§ 3.42 p.m.
§ The Chairman
I am afraid I must rule that the first Amendment, that in the name of the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts)—In page 1, line 11 leave out from "be," to "and, "in line 13, and insert:the constituencies constituted in pursuance of the Schedule (Determination of Parliamentary Constituencies under System of Proportional Representation) to this Act—is out of Order. The first Amendment which I propose to call is that standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and other hon. and right hon. Members.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
Without wishing to question your Ruling, Major Milner, I am in some difficulty, because Mr. Speaker has only this minute ruled out of Order the Motion for an Instruction to the Committee on the grounds that, if it were given, it would disfranchise a whole community. We hold the view that this Bill is not a Representation of the People Bill at all, and that under this iniquitous electoral system—[Interruption.] Those are the views we hold, and they are entitled to expression. Under this electoral system envisaged in the Bill——
§ The Chairman
Order! We cannot have a discussion on the question of enfranchisement or disfranchisement. I have ruled the Amendment out of Order because it cuts across the whole principle of this Bill as decided on Second Reading and is so different from the Bill as drawn, as to make the Bill a nullity in the event of a decision being given in favour of the Amendment. One has only to look at the Schedule which deals with this particular matter to see that it would mean that the Boundary Commission would have at once to begin its labours all over again, and that would, in my view, bring about an entirely fresh situation. I theft-fore rule the Amendment out of Order.
§ Mr. Byers
Without wishing to challenge it, may I say that it is a most important Ruling which you have given, Major Milner, because it means, in fact, that we cannot seek to alter the Bill, if in any way we are going to change the object of the Bill. Would it not be possible for us to put down this Amendment on the Report stage?
§ Mr. Peake (Leeds, North)
I beg to move, in page r, line II, to leave out "county and borough."
It is now four weeks since the Second Reading Debate, when, upon the matter raised by this Amendment, charges were made against the Government of a breach of faith, to which contradictory and mutually destructive defences were put forward by the Lord President of the Council and the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am not sure who had the best of this public disagreement between Ministers. We shall have to wait and see 1895 on which side the Home Secretary gives his casting vote today. I had hoped that, in the interval of four weeks which has now elapsed, the Government might have recognised their error, and might themselves have put down an Amendment such as that now before the Committee.
The Amendment is one of a series designed, in the words of the unanimous recommendation of the Speaker's Conference, "to maintain university representation and methods of election." This series of Amendments would also fulfil the recommendation of the Speaker's Conference that the registration of university graduates should in future be automatic and free. I would point out in passing that, in the Second Reading Debate, the hon. Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay) was in error when, in speaking of the 1945 Act in relation to this matter of university registration, he said:Other recommendations from that Speaker's Conference, such as changes in the fee paid by university voters, were also abolished.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1948; Vol. 447, c. 1047.]That was not so. The Act of 1945 did not touch this question of the fees paid for registration at the universities.
On the merits of this issue of university representation, I would say that the case for abolition of university seats is weaker today than at any time in its long history. For a long time past, university education has not been the privilege of a well-to-do minority. It is open to all who have talent, and, in the future, go per cent., at least, of graduates will be drawn from the ranks of the elementary schools. Nor is there anything undemocratic about giving extra representation to the best educated section of our people. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is all right, I will make my point. "One man, one vote" is really rather a silly slogan, unless we also attain to "one vote, one value."
Under the redistribution proposals in the Schedule to the Bill, a vote in some of the county constituencies of Wales will be two and a half to three times as valuable as a vote in some of the larger boroughs, because the number of electors there is only one-third of what it is in these larger boroughs. Moreover, I have been told—and hon. Members opposite will, of course, be able to correct me if 1896 I am wrong—that in the conference of the Labour Party, which, I am also told, settles the policy of the party, trade union representation of a special character is given. I understand that a member of the Labour Party may, so to speak, have a vote for his territorial representative at the annual conference of the Labour Party, and may also have a say in choosing a trade union representative, to whom special vocational representation is given. Surely, if it is all right for the Labour Party to give special weight to the trade unions in the formulation of its policy, there is nothing very wrong about this House of Commons giving special representation to the best educated section of our people.
What are the arguments advanced today in favour of the abolition of university representation? The Home Secretary, in moving the Second Reading, could find nothing better to do than to quote a lot of very stale extracts from the Dictionary of National Biography criticising the university representatives of a century or more ago. Those arguments might have been highly relevant to a proposal to abolish university representation in the Reform Bill of 1832, but they have singularly little relevance to the situation today.
The Lord President, who has a better sense of reality than the Home Secretary, directed his charge against the present university representatives, not against those who had passed on a century or more ago; his charge against them was that they were singularly bad attenders —I think "shocking" was the word he used—at this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad to hear hon. Members opposite cheering, because that argument is just as feeble in every respect as is the Home Secretary's. Since we do not clock in and out here, as at a factory, that charge can only be based upon Division List records. I confess that I have not troubled to study the records of the university Members. That sort of argument, about attending Divisions in this House, may be all right in the constituencies of Hackney or East Lewisham, although it appears to be less effective in North Croydon.
§ Mr. Peake
I would rather not give way now; the right hon. Gentleman will have his own chance. That argument does not really cut much ice with hon. Members of this House. We are well aware that we often debate vital issues, such as foreign or economic policy, for days at a time, on Adjournments or other occasions, without a Division, whilst, on other occasions, we may have half a dozen Divisions in a single day on some perfectly trivial Measure, such as the Requisitioned Land and War Works Bill. A large proportion of our Divisions, too, are on the question of the Suspension of the to o'clock Rule. That is a matter upon which, I have observed, it is particularly difficuit for independent Members to make up their minds and to cast a vote with genuine conviction. I remember that even Miss Eleanor Rathbone used to get into rather a flapdoodle over this question. Moreover, if university Members vote so much less frequently than others, that proves that they cannot really be a serious threat to the political future of the Socialist Party.
As regards the quality of university representation, which, I think, is a really relevant consideration, I would only say that, during the years that I have been in this House, it has been distinctly above the average. I will name only three university Members, none of whom is at present serving in the House because I do not wish to draw invidious comparisons. The three Members who stand out in my memory are Lord Quickswood, Mr. Edmund Harvey, and Miss Eleanor Rathbone. Lord Quickswood was better known here as Lord Hugh Cecil, and he was admittedly one of the great Parliamentary orators of the present century, and one of the few men who could empty the smoking-room and fill the House.
Mr. Edmund Harvey, whom I defeated in North Leeds in 1929, subsequently passed the test laid down by the Secretary of State for Scotland and secured election for the Combined English Universities under the label of an "Independent Progressive." He is a man of exemplary and unexceptionable character. The third university Member I would name—indeed, whom I have already named—is Miss Eleanor Rathbone, who, although she was the bane of my official life as Under-Secretary at the Home Office for nearly five years, had, in the words of the 1898 hon. Gentleman the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert), "a whole bagful of noble causes."
The case for the retention of the university representation rests today, however, on grounds which, in my opinion, transcend mere merit; it rests on grounds of honourable agreement and good faith between parties. On the Second Reading, I endeavoured to establish three propositions: first, that a bargain was struck in the Speaker's Conference of 1944—this, though at first denied, is now unchallenged; secondly, that, at the time the bargain was struck, it was binding, not only on the individuals who subscribed to it, but also on the political parties which they claimed to, and in fact did, represent at the Conference. This also went unchallenged by the Lord President in winding up the Debate.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
§ Mr. Peake
In that case, I shall have to quote from the speeches of Lord PethickLawrence and those of the Lord President of the Council in 1945. Speaking on 17th January, 1945, on an Amendment to the Representation of the People Bill to abolish plural voting moved from the Liberal benches, Lord Pethick-Lawrence said:But I hope a good many will feel that we, in a sense, were their representatives and that, in making a compromise, half of which we have already secured, they will not wish to take a course which will be contrary to the compromise which we, who to some extent represented them, voluntarily made."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1945; Vol. 407, c. 298.]If hon. Members say that was qualified by the words, "to some extent," I will now quote the words of the Lord President of the Council at that time, speaking on an Amendment to maintain plural voting in accordance with the Speaker's Conference recommendation. He said:That is the spirit in which I would appeal to my hon. Friends opposite, not by putting on them any obligation to vote for the Government on this matter, but on the ground that their representatives did very well."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1945; Vol. 407, C. 312.]1899 Does the right hon. Gentleman still want to challenge the fact that he and his colleagues on the Conference represented the Labour Party there?
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I explained in my speech that we were there as representatives and not as delegates. The right hon. Gentleman has confirmed that by quoting these speeches, which showed that we had to come back and persuade our colleagues to accept the decisions reached at the Speaker's Conference.
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
Is it alleged that this arrangement was made at the Speaker's Conference, because how is it that other members of the Conference knew nothing about it, as has been said in the House?
§ Mr. Peake
We have had all this out before. There was an accommodation reached at the Speaker's Conference which has been referred to by almost everybody who has spoken in this matter, time and time again, and I really think it is a waste of the Committee's time to go over that ground. If the hon. Gentleman likes to refer to the speech by the present Lord President of the Council on 17th January, 1945, he will see repeated, time and again throughout that speech, a statement that what was done at the Speaker's Conference was an accommodation, a compromise, and an agreement between the political parties, which he was then trying to persuade his own party to carry out.
It has not been challenged, first, that there was a bargain, an arrangement, and, secondly, that those who made it were acting as representatives of their party. The bargain, of course, could not, and did not, bind every individual member of every party, whether in or outside the House. In the course of the Debates in 1944, 13 hon. Members voted for an Amendment designed to eliminate university representation. They included the present Secretary of State for War and Minister of Pensions, and those individuals 1900 or such few of them as are still with us in the House, have of course safeguarded their position. In the majority in that Division, numbering 152, in favour of retaining the university representation, were the Lord President—I am glad to see he has just come in—the former Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Westwood)—the present Secretary of State for Scotland, the present Patronage Secretary, the present Minister of Town and Country Planning, the right hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers)—whom I think is Lord High Commissioner for the Church of Scotland—and the Minister of National Insurance, who is sitting rather shyly down there. I think the hon. Member for North-West Hull told us that, although he was not a Member of this House, he did vocally dissent at the time from some recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, and in that way, no doubt, he also has safeguarded his individual position.
I want now to examine the third proposal I put forward on which I endeavoured to secure the agreement of the House at the Second Reading. That was, that the agreement then made was binding and operative today and was not, as the Lord President argued, automatically terminated upon the dissolution of Parliament in 1945. This alone of the three proposals I advanced is still challenged by the Lord President, on behalf of the Government or most of it because we must except the Secretary of State for Scotland. Let us examine the evidence on this issue, and may I hope that my points will be noted and dealt with by anyone who replies for the Government in this Debate? First, we had Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the leading Socialist representative on the Speaker's Conference, pleading repeatedly on behalf of the Labour Party, of which he was vice-chairman in 1944 and 1945, for the fulfilment in every particular, including university representation, of the agreement which he then described as one which he hoped would survive. Now, nearly four years later, he has given an explanation of his position in the "Evening Standard," which was quoted by the Lord President of the Council in reply to the Second Reading Debate. The Lord President quoted "Londoner" as saying: 1901Lord Pethick-Lawrence today admitted to me there was a gentlemen's agreement, but says it applied to the Parliament of the time. He said, 'There was never any mention in the Conference, or in any of the pourparlers connected with it, of any understandings as to what the attitude of the parties should be in any future Parliament. '—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1948; Vol. 447, c. 1105.]Of course, there was no mention in the Conference of anything of the kind. I am sure everybody in the Conference would have been horrified if it had been suggested for one moment that any parts of the agreement reached, which had not been carried out within a few months, were automatically going to lapse when a General Election occurred. If there had been any such understanding in the Conference at that time, surely it should have been a specific term of the agreement reached and set out in Mr. Speaker's letter of 22nd May, 1944. Moreover, the Report of the Conference itself, as I will now demonstrate, envisaged legislation in a future Parliament, and rendered such legislation necessary and essential to the fulfilment of the objects of the Conference.
Let me first, however, refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) in the Second Reading Debate. He was another member of the Conference, and at that time was on the executive committee of the Labour Party. He said:I resent the continual charges of bad faith …against the Labour Party in general and Labour members of the Speaker's Conference in particular. There was certainly no idea of any bargain being made between parties, beyond the fact that we were trying to reach some kind of agreement regarding legislation that might be introduced in the lifetime of the last Parliament"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1948; Vol. 447, C. 904.]It is a great thing to find one of the hon. Members on the benches opposite who resents these charges of bad faith.
That is in happy and striking contrast to the attitude of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who began his speech 24 hours after those charges had been made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) by saying that he had not intended to deal with this point, but since he was a member of the Conference he could speak with some knowledge on what happened; in happy contrast also to the attitude of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), who 1902 spoke late on the first night of the Debate and ignored these charges altogether. In winding up the Second Reading Debate, the Lord President followed the same lines as the hon. Member for Dagenham, in an endeavour to explain away Lord Pethick-Lawrence's statement of 1944 that the Conference had reached an agreement which it hoped was going to survive. The Lord President said:I am perfectly certain it never dawned on my noble Friend, it certainly did not dawn on me, and the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland have assured me that it did not dawn on them—how could it dawn upon any of us?—that we were making an agreement in that Parliament … which would commit the Members of a Parliament which was not yet elected."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February; Vol. 447, C. 1103, 1104.]It certainly did dawn, if I am correct, on the Lord President, and upon Lord Pethick-Lawrence—or it should have done, if he took the trouble to read the Report to which his name was appended. I shall not express any opinion as to how much ever does dawn upon the Secretary of State for Scotland—although he signed the Report, also. Both the hon. Member for Dagenham and the Lord President are quite wrong, and all those with whom the Lord President associates himself are quite wrong, in thinking that the agreement related only to legislation which could be carried out in the lifetime of the last Parliament.
What did the Report of the Speaker's Conference itself in terms recommend? It recommended an interim scheme of redistribution by the splitting of the 20 largest constituencies, and it recommended a temporary increase in the present Parliament to 640 in the number of Members of this House. It went on to recommend that thereafter the Boundary Commissioners should prepare a scheme of complete redistribution providing for approximately the same number of Members as the House had in 1944, that is to say, 615. I must now read the twenty-third recommendation of the Speaker's Conference, dated 22nd May. This is on the scheme of complete redistribution to take place after the election:The reports of the Boundary Commissions should be submitted to the Secretary of State concerned, and the Secretary of State should be required to lay every such report before Parliament together with a draft Order in Council giving effect to any recommendations for redistribution.1903 The important words are the words of this proviso:There should, however, be provision that when the Boundary Commissions have made their first general report with respect to the whole of the United Kingdom effect should be given to this first comprehensive scheme by Bill and not by Order in Council.Is it not as clear as daylight that the Speaker's Conference in 1944 not only contemplated, but demanded, that there should be legislation—not in the then existing Parliament only, but in a future Parliament, in order to implement their recommendations? I do not know why this did not dawn on the Lord President of the Council when, in his capacity as Home Secretary, he first saw the Report of the Speaker's Conference of 1944.
At this stage I think that the Home Secretary, whose integrity and candour, if I may sincerely say so, are appreciated in all quarters of the Committee, could assist the Committee. In moving the Second Reading of the Bill he paid a graceful tribute to the work of Mr. Speaker's Conference, although it would now appear that there is very little relation between the work of the Speaker's Conference and this Bill. The question I should like the Home Secretary to answer—and by his answer I think he would do the Committee a service—is this: Is this Bill, so far as it relates to redistribution, a quite voluntary and spontaneous act on behalf of the Government, or does it represent the fulfilment of an obligation? Which is it? Are the Government free agents to carry or to withdraw this Bill as they please? Or are they under a moral obligation to proceed with it? It is not a very difficult question. Is the right hon. Gentleman able to answer it? I am quite ready to give way. The right hon. Gentleman is very candid with the Committee as a rule. Is he unwilling to answer this question?
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
Really, the right hon. Gentleman is not learned counsel cross-examining a witness. I shall answer the Debate in due course. The right hon. Gentleman has so little respect for university Members that he declined to give way to one right hon. Member representing a university, and I do not desire to interrupt him.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Peake
I am extremely sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has refused to answer a very simple—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has not."]—a very simple and a very easy question, the answer to which would enable hon. Members in all parts of the Committee to make up their minds on the merits of this issue. I am now going to tell the right hon. Gentleman whether he is morally bound or not to bring in this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then why ask him?"] Because I thought it much better that the right hon. Gentleman should make a candid admission to the Committee than that I should have to show him up. There was introduced in the autumn of 1945 the Elections and Jurors Bill. The right hon. Gentleman will recollect it. It made a number of alterations regarding the con. duct of elections. On the Second Reading of that Bill there stood in my name an Amendment, which read as follows:this House, whilst welcoming the proposal to extend facilities for absent voting"—to a number of different classes of per-sons—declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which ignores many of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference.…"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1945 Vol. 416, C. 455.]That was the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing his Bill, chose to deal with this Amendment in advance of its being moved, and in the course of his speech he made the following statement, which I should like the Committee to note:The Amendment that has been placed on the Paper alludes to the question of the Speaker's Conference. We have not implemented all the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, and for this reason, that I announced in the House, on filth October, that I proposed to appoint a Committee, which would consist of Members of the House, the chief agents of the political parties and certain departmental representatives, to examine the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference and make a report, on which the appropriate legislation could be passed.He went on:It is the intention of His Majesty's Government, when we get the report of the Committee, to base legislation thereon, and to submit it to the House as soon as Parliamentary time can be found thereafter; and we regard ourselves as bound during the lifetime of the present Parliament to submit to the House the necessary legislation to give effect to these recommendations."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 452–3.]
§ Mr. Peake
Yes. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:and we regard ourselves as bound during the lifetime of the present Parliament to submit … the necessary legislation to give effect to these recommendations.The words "these recommendations" refer back to the earlier sentence which I have already read to the House, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke as follows:I propose to appoint a Committee … to examine the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference and make a report. We regard ourselves as bound during the lifetime of the present Parliament to submit to the House the necessary legislation to give effect to these recommendations.The right hon. Gentleman must give his own explanation of this when he speaks. It is perfectly clear that at that time he was saying the Government felt themselves morally bound to carry out the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes—subject, of course, to any technical difficulties which might appear as the result of the work of this committee.
There is another vital piece of evidence. Many of the main technical problems in 1906 the Second Report of the Speaker's Conference, dealing wtih corrupt practices, election expenses and matters of this kind, were referred in November, 1944, by the Lord President of the Council, as he now is, to another committee, also containing the party agents, presided over by Mr. Speaker's Counsel, Sir Cecil Carr. That committee, at the request of the Lord President, made an urgent interim report on a certain part of their terms of reference. That committee then continued in being throughout and after the General Election and did not make its final report until November, 1947. This committee, under Sir Cecil Carr, examined proposals made by the Speaker's Conference and sat for just over three years. Its final report refers in paragraph after paragraph to recommendations of the Speaker's Conference and the methods in detail which the Carr Committee proposed should be adopted in order to carry out these recommendations. If the agreement embodied in the Report of the Conference died an automatic death in the summer of 1945, how was it that this Carr Committee was allowed to go on for three years working out detailed methods of implementing the Conference's recommendation? These labours, be it noted, were all designed with a view to legislation in the present Parliament.
If hon. Members will look at the final report of the Carr Committee, which came out at the end of November, 1947, or only a little over three months ago, they will find two very interesting paragraphs dealing with the question of university elections. Paragraph 26 reads as follows:University Elections. Our attention has been called to complaints about the lack of secrecy at elections for university constituencies; the voter's name appears on the face of the voting paper, which is open to inspection by the candidates and their representatives.Accordingly, certain recommendations are made. In paragraph 27 it is stated:The Speaker's Conference recommended … that every person who has received or receives a degree … shall be automatically registered and that no fees shall be charged for registration expenses.The committee, in its report, then deals with how that matter should be handled. This is very curious to me because one of the 15 Members of the Carr Committee, which produced a unanimous report, was 1907 the chief agent of the Labour Party, a certain Mr. Shepherd, if I am not mistaken.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
A certain Lord Shepherd now.
§ Mr. Peake
Well, very frequently at any rate. Does it not seem to the Committee a shame that Lord Shepherd should have been allowed to go on for two and a half years after the Election of 1945, cudgelling his brains about this question of university representation, and how it should be properly dealt with, when the Lord President had killed the thing in June, 1945?
Another question I would like to ask is why we had to wait nearly three years for the claim that the dissolution of Parliament in 1945 terminated the agreement. Why was not the Carr Committee reappointed with new terms of reference? Why was it allowed to go on examining these recommendations of the Speaker's Conference with a view to their implementation? Why, also, did the Lord 'Chancellor, in another place, lead us to believe that this Bill would contain the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference? During the Debate on the King's Speech hi October of last year my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asked the Prime Minister what was the meaning of the phrase in the King's Speech:You will be asked to approve a Measure to reform the franchise and electoral procedure and to give appropriate effect to recommendations of the Commisisons appointed -to consider the distribution of Parliamentary seats.I wish to know why the Prime Minister said in his reply:The sight hon. Gentleman raised some points with regard to the Redistribution of Seats Bill. That is brought forward from the Speaker's Conference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st, October, 1947; Vol. 443, c. 633.]Why did the Prime Minister call this Measure the Redistribution of Seats Bill? 1908 It deals with a far wider scope than that. Moreover, why did he say it was brought forward from the Speaker's Conference if there is no longer any connection between what the Speaker's Conference did in 1944 and the Bill which right hon. and hon. Members have now placed before the House?
Finally, we have the absolutely devastating admission—I am almost glad he has gone out—of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland. He took a definite view on the Second Reading, that the agreement reached in 1944 continued operative in 1946, at which time the naughty Tories broke it by putting up a candidate for one of the university seats who had the good fortune to go and get elected. The Secretary of State for Scotland not only says the agreement was still binding, hut he imports into the agreement a secret clause that no Conservative shall be elected for universities in the future. I am very surprised that my hon. Friend the senior Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) should have put his signature in some way to a secret clause by which universities in the future should return only Liberals, Progressives, Socialists or Communists.
The claim that the Dissolution of Parliament in 1945 put an end to the agreement, and absolved the Government from any obligation to carry it out, cannot for one moment be sustained. The whole of the evidence points to exactly the opposite conclusion. The part of the agreement which was to the advantage of the Socialist Party had already been fulfilled. The question may be put, how long, if this agreement continued to bind parties, as it clearly did after the Election, was it to last? The Lord President interrupted me in the Second Reading Debate and asked whether it was to last for ever. Of course, an agreement can always be dissolved by mutual agreement between the parties. There has been no mutual agreement about this matter.
Apart from that, in my opinion there are two essential pre-requisites of an honourable discharge from the obligations then incurred. First and foremost, a mandate should have been obtained from the electors in 1945 to abolish university representation. So far as I know, not a single word was said on behalf of the 1909 Labour Party at the 1945 General Election to give anybody the slightest inkling that they intended to abolish university representation. Were not the voters in 1945 entitled to assume that the Labour Party policy on university representation had been expressed by the Labour Party representatives on the Speaker's Conference 12 months before? They were given no indication that Labour policy had changed between May, 1944, and June, 1945. Surely, before bringing in a change of this description some mandate from the electors should have been sought and obtained?
The second condition of honourable discharge from these obligations would have been to follow what is now well-established custom, and to have assembled an all-party conference to discuss alterations in the electoral law. In winding up the Second Reading Debate the Lord President relied on an exception which he said was to be found in the conduct of Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, in 1928 when introducing the so-called "flapper vote." That example is of very little value to the Lord President, because every year, from 1924 onwards, on Private Members' days, the Labour Party brought in Bills to provide universal adult franchise. Those Bills received the support, not only of Socialist Members but of Liberal and Conservative Members in the Lobbies. Therefore, in adopting these proposals in 1928 Mr. Baldwin was assured in advance of all party support for his policy, apart from a handful of diehards on his own side of the House. A conference at that time was quite unnecessary.
Where does responsibility lie for this proposed outrage on the elementary decencies of our political and public life? I do not think that even hon. Members who were new to the House of Commons in 1945 can disclaim all responsibility for fulfilling an obligation to which their party is so deeply committed. After all, when one inherits one's father's estate, and with it the means and the power to discharge his unpaid tailor's bill, one cannot repudiate liability on the ground that one does not care for the pattern of the suit. That is what hon. Members opposite are seeking to do in this matter of university representation. But the primary responsibility lies in a very special degree on Members of His Majesty's Government. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Lord President were all Members of the 1910 War Cabinet which accepted these recommendations as a whole. Practically every Minister who holds an important office today held office in the Coalition Administration—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister of Defence, and many others. In 1944 many of them voted, as I have shown, for the retention of university representation.
It is difficult to find Parliamentary words in which to express my feelings upon this matter, or to describe my horror at the act of petty party spite and perfidy to which former colleagues in the wartime Coalition are now prepared to put their hands. Seldom in peacetime have we faced such danger and difficulty as confront us now. All over Europe democratic Governments are falling, and free peoples are being enslaved.
§ Mr. Peake
The lamps of learning and of liberty, relit in 1945, are being extinguished once more. Yet this is the time chosen by Ministers to disfranchise our universities, to repudiate their personal obligations, and to depart from the traditions of good faith and fair play between parties, which are the essential foundations of our public life. I ask them, even at this eleventh hour, to think again.
§ Mr. Ronald Chamberlain (Norwood)
I do not want to follow the arguments of the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), because I am sure they will be dealt with adequately by the Government Front Bench; moreover, they were gone over fairly extensively during Second Reading.
I want, briefly, to put a point of view which has not so far been put clearly. I do so as a member of what is probably the premier university, namely, the University of Cambridge. That, of course, might be questioned, but at least it is a university second to none. On all grounds I support the abolition of university representation; but at the same time I fully realise its importance. While I support its abolition, I submit that it can at the same time be retained. That may sound paradoxical, but I hope in a few words to explain exactly how it can be done. Not only can the university contribution be retained, but its value can, 1911 in the way I suggest, be considerably enhanced.
In 1604, James I, Sir Robert Cecil, then Chancellor of Cambridge University, and Sir Edward Coke, a former Speaker, made a crucial mistake in their proposal for university representation. Instead of including the university representatives in the ranks of the House of Commons, the proper course would have been to bring them within the Upper Chamber. I am well aware that for a variety of reasons, that probably would not have been practical at that time. In those days, the Upper Chamber was very much a closed shop, a dosed corporation, and consisted of landed interests, the aristocracy, the Church, and very little else. It is probably right to say that James I who was a good patron of learning, wanted to bring the university interest and voice, as well as the voice of the Church—because the university voice was virtually that of the Church—into the Lower House and so to broaden it.
I appreciate the motives which led them to take this course. But the whole history of this representation would, in many ways, have been very much better had the university representatives been brought into the Upper Chamber. After all, the Lower House, the House of Commons, has, all the way through its history, for over boo years, been based essentially on the territorial conception. We know that the franchise was extremely restricted early on; we know that there were pocket boroughs, rotten boroughs, and the rest. But in any case nominally, the House of Commons was not a House of particular interests; it was based on a territorial aspect, and not the aspect of interests.
The House of Lords has, however, always been essentially a Chamber where particular interests have been located, and it is for that reason that I wish the decision of James I had been different in 1604. May I say, in passing, that if these representatives of the universities had been located in the House of Lords, instead of the House of Commons, then many of the tragic happenings which were referred to on the Second Reading Debate—when most distinguished figures who represented universities were sometimes thrown out rather unceremoniously —would not have happened. I refer to Sir Isaac Newton, Peel, Palmerston and 1912 Gladstone, all of whose periods of representation came to an untimely end. Had they been put into the House of Lords on a different basis they would not have reached that unhappy consummation——
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
They were all Members for over 10 years.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
That may be, but because they took a certain line, in the main in ecclesiastical matters, they were unceremoniously bundled out. If they had been brought into the House of Lords as representing the universities, they would not have been at the mercy of the kind of votes which sustained them.
On 16th February, the Leader of the Opposition said:There are … many famous men who have come to this House from the universities, many of them as independent Members able to speak with freedom on a lot of topics such as, for example, divorce and gambling, which might prove embarrassing to what are -ailed territorial Members.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February. 1948; Vol. 447, c. 871.]I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman's allusion to the value of these Members, and the fact that they have been honourable and famous men, but I rather question his statement as to their being able to speak with freedom on a lot of topics. Actually, the course of history has shown that they were under considerable restraints, certainly far more in by-gone days than they would be today. I am so far only dealing with the historical point that a mistake was made in 1604.
The proposal which I wish to make today, and which I do not suppose for a moment can be accepted at once by the Government, is that the true interests of the universities might find a more proper and appropriate place in a reformed Second Chamber, alongside many other interests, such as the Church and other ecclesiastical bodies, learned societies, trade unions, and organisations of employers—distinct interests. It is not appropriate, I know, in this Debate, to go fully into the matter of the reform of the Second Chamber, but I am trying to make it clear that while I believe that university Members should be abolished from the Lower Chamber, they could find a more appropriate place in a reformed Second Chamber. That Chamber would have restricted powers, of course, but it would be better from 1913 every point of view that they should be in that Chamber, perhaps nominated by the Senates of the universities, and not be subject, in the ordinary way, to election by postal ballot and the rest. They should be real nominees of the universities, and should be regarded as the voices of those universities. By that means there would be true university representation. Members of this House who are Members of the universities, and some of whom gave elaborate obituary notices of themselves on the Second Reading, might perhaps take heart from the suggestion that if they go out of here they may usefully go to another place——
§ 4.45 P.m.
§ Sir Alan Herbert (Oxford University)
Is the proposal of the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain) that the present university Members should be life Members of the House of Lords? If so, they cannot be quite so bad as we have heard.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
I have been making it clear that I greatly value the contributions which university Members have made throughout the ages, including those who represent the universities at present —I make no invidious comparisons. The exact form of nomination, whether it for life, for five years, for the term of Parliament, or longer, would be a matter for negotiation. I do not think that the details are particularly relevant to the essential principle I am putting forward. I put it forward not because I expect the Government to accept it today, but because I think it is a reasonable proposition. I greatly value the representation of my own and other universities, but I believe that it should find its appropriate and proper medium in a reformed Second Chamber.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Perhaps I may be permitted to begin by referring to two things which have been said already this afternoon. To take them in inverse order: first, the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain): I was a little surprised, without in the least desiring to criticise the Chair which, as you know, Major Milner, is the last thing in the world I should ever do, that his 1914 suggestion was within the scope of the Bill. But whether or not that is so, I do hope that nobody will think, whether or not there ought to be university nominees in the House of Lords, that that has any relevance to what we are debating here today, which is the function which university Members can and should perform by sitting here. I do not dare to boast of all the university Members, least of all of myself, adequate performance of functions, and I do not think that many Members in this House would dare boast similarly for themselves, for that matte'. We are considering the function which university Members should perform in this House, and not the functions which could be performed by their sitting in the House of Lords, which could not be the same, at least not more than to a very partial extent. Nor do I understand the Jacobin democrats opposite who wish to cut down the universities from representation in Parliament for corporations of the total graduate population to representation of the resident teachers in each particular university.
There is one other thing which has been said this afternoon, which, also, I cannot understand—and I am sorry that the Home Secretary is not here, although I make no complaint about that; a nice cup of tea now and then does no man any harm—the argument, in which he indulged rather coyly, the invitations from this side he resisted for some time but, in the end, like the lady protesting almost too much, he did consent to engage in a duologue with my right hon. Friend. When he did so, I was very much surprised by his argument, and by the—so far as they were intelligible and not merely inchoate—noises behind him, which appeared to confirm the argument. What he argued was that when he spoke—I think it was on 21st November, 1945, but I do not tie myself to the date—about the moral duty of implementing "these recommendations," he meant not all the recommendations "of the Speaker's Conference hut, he argued, and the noises behind him appeared to argue, the recommendations of the Committee he appointed that day.
That seemed to me a very extraordinary argument, and the most extraordinary of all the extraordinary tergiversations to which occupants of the Treasury bench have been forced during this argument. They have performed the most miraculous 1915 feat of rotating simultaneously on their vertical axis and their horizontal axis, and in both directions at once. This was the oddest performance of the lot. I ask the Lord President of the Council to tell us: did the Home Secretary really mean the Government to be morally bound to introduce a Bill legislating, accepting the duty to implement legislatively, the recommendations of the Committee which he only that morning appointed? That is the most extraordinary abdication of government in the history of mankind, but that was the argument which the Home Secretary ventured—I think that is a fair word. "Dared" might be regarded as controversial and I wish today not to be controversial. [Laughter.] No, so far I have been, I think, not controversial, at any rate not contentious. That was the argument which the Home Secretary ventured to put before this Committee.
I now come to the more general argument which I wish to submit. I shall try to do so without being intolerably long or scandalously repetitious. I hope, however, that the Committee may think it right to give me a certain latitude. It has always been usual that the accused man in the dock should be allowed to say something in his own defence and that he should be given rather more freedom than any other person addressing the court. In those civilised days when we had responsible Government in this country, and unsuccessful politicians got their heads cut off, it was usual to allow them to address some remarks to their fellow citizens from the scaffold. Now that everything, or almost everything, in the way of procedure and so on is streamlined, although there are still, for all the streamlining we have done, a certain number of anomalies and vestigial excrescences, like, for example, a Lord President of the Council. But we have streamlined a good long way. This House, which is too fond of referring to itself as the High Court of Parliament, is streamlined perhaps to the point where the dock of the accused and the scaffold for the victim have become one and the same thing. I hope that I may claim both privileges on this occasion.
I have some slight title to speak rather lengthily, in that I was a Member of the Speaker's Conference. It is not usual— 1916 [Interruption.] If this is to be the end of University Members I am entitled to proceed without too much interruption or "chy-iking." I was a Member of the Speaker's Conference and I am aware of pretty well everything that happened there. The arguments for and against University representation were not, any of them I think, produced there, but those arguments are well known. They can be infinitely elaborated and illustrated. There are not very many. There are two arguments against it. One is that it offends against the strict arithmetic principle of the representative microcosm, and the other is that one does not like particular University Members at the time, or University Members in general in recent history. Those are the only two arguments against it. There are half a dozen arguments in favour of it, and I wish to say a word about one or two of those.
I think that the two which have been least stressed and which, therefore, I hope I may be forgiven for saying something about, are, first of all, the argument from the representation of overseas graduates. I would ask hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench to believe that this is a matter of very great importance. If we take what we may regard as a pedantically arithmocratic view—but everybody agrees that there are exceptions to it for all sorts of reasons and the constitution of even the Labour Party Conference admits great exceptions to it—there are great exceptions to it. And it is obviously, subject to considerations of time. If we take the arithmetic view, we must, of course, go in for annual Parliaments, as the old Chartists did, because the relations between the House of Commons and the electorate may shift considerably in even two years.
I do not think that anyone really sticks to the strict arithmocratic principle. If we do not, there is a very strong argument for university seats, from the overseas end. A very high proportion of those Britons who serve their country overseas, whether directly in the public service or in private employ or in personal professions, are university graduates. That is of extreme value, as I can testify, and could justify with instances except that it might seem rather boastful and in some cases might be indiscreet, with important instances to stress the extreme value of 1917 the fact that there is that channel, in this institution, of communications with Whitehall and Westminster. It is not good enough to say that they can communicate with the Member of Parliament for Chatharm, or Wigan or wherever they happened to live when they were boys, or wherever their parents live, or wherever they intend to retire to. That is not the same thing.
One advantage of the university Member is that he can be personally known to a very high proportion of his constituents. I think I dare boast that I am personally known to a higher proportion of my constituents than is anyone else in this place. [Horn. MEMBERS: "No."] I think it is mathematically demonstrable. One can hardly live in a university town and be an active teacher, getting about the place, for 37 years, without being known indirectly to, one might almost say, almost all the graduates who live at the end of those 37 years, and directly at least to a very large proportion of them. There is nothing personally boastful about that statement, because it is in the nature of the case. Even university graduates overseas who may not personally know a university member will probably know the sort of chap he is through knowing somebody who knows him or having some acquaintance in his college, or what not. It provides a means of confidential communication running both ways which, I am sure if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were candid, they would admit has been of very great public service indeed, which service it will be very difficult to replace. Incidentally, I would say this about them: almost as often as not, I had almost said more often than not, those of my constituents who have written to me from overseas and asked me, for example, to take up matters with Government Departments—I think I am right in saying "more often than not," although obviously I have not got any statistics—have been anxious about the interests of the local population rather than about any personal or professional interest of their own. That ought to be said to their credit, and I think it is also to the credit of the institution of university representation.
The next of the familiar half-dozen arguments in favour of university representation which in my judgment has so 1918 far not been very much stressed is the necessity for what is called academic freedom. Academic freedom is very difficult to define. Any freedom is, as we all know; but I think we all know pretty well what we mean by it. As the poet Housman said on one occasion, his dog was not very good at defining the difference between a rat and an elephant but he knew a rat when he smelled one. Similarly, I think we know roughly what we mean by academic freedom. If not, I am willing to debate it at length with anyone at any stage.
This is the point which I wish to put to hon. Gentlemen opposite and particularly to the Treasury Bench: First, if the universities in this country compare not unfavourably with the universities in any other country, and I do not think that anyone would deny that our universities compare not unfavourably with those of any other country from any point of view, what are the reasons? No doubt they are numerous, but one of them certainly is that the English university tends to go, on being a corporation to which all the graduates are conscious of loyalty, and in. which they are all conscious of membership, throughout their lives. And that is done without the sort of ballyhoo and, over-organisation which sometimes, happens in many American universities. And, mark this, it is done without any attempt by the graduates who have gone away from the university to control the academic management of the universities, which is one of the great dangers, as anyone with experience of the United States knows, to educational life in the United. States.
That is one of the factors in the virtues of English universities. What are the factors that make that possible? I do not say for a moment that the existence of university seats is the whole story, but it is an important factor in the matter. It means that graduates go on periodically receiving letters from their Members and from candidates, and in that and other Parliamentary ways go on being reminded of and being conscious of a corporation to which they belong and, therefore, go on communicating with the universities and being communicated with; and go on, though not so much or as efficiently as I would wish, trying to take some trouble to keep their addresses up to date. So, although they are scattered all over the world, the university has a reality and 1919 unity about it. There is not the least doubt that one of the factors in that is university representation in this House, and it would be a great pity if that should be lost.
I cannot myself subscribe to the view which was taken by the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) when he spoke on the Second Reading of this Bill. He said:I take rather a different view of the university from those who have spoken in defence of university representation here. To me, what matters about universities is that, at any given moment, there are a lot of young people there, with a few teachers When one collects a number of ancient graduates scattered throughout the country—a professor here, a clergyman there, a stockbroker or a Member of Parliament—and say that these classes, somehow or other, form a separate and real community … seems to me to be total nonsense."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1948; Vol. 447. c 937–8.]I have left out of that passage the word "not" because I am sure it was a misprint. I am pretty sure that I have read what the right hon. Gentleman said. That seems to me to be an extraordinary perversity of logic, which almost begins to explain the cheap money policy. The only thing that matters about universities, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is the young men there, until the moment at which they graduate. At that moment they become ancient graduates scattered throughout the country—a professor here, a stockbroker there, and so forth.
The truth is that university constituents are considerably younger in average age than those of any other constituency. That will not always be so but it will be so for at least our lifetime. It must be so when we have the number of the population increasing, so that the number graduating in the last 20 years is higher than that in the previous 20 years. As the right hon. Gentleman ought to have known, one thing a professor cannot be is aged; he has to retire when he is 65, unlike an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer who can go on being an ex-Chancellor or the Exchequer for quite a long time, if the Lord Almightly permits him. In my submission, that is a false view of the university. There is a real corporate entity about a university in which one factor is university representation.
I have another thing to say about the right hon. Gentleman: I am sorry he is 1920 not here. In his speech during the Second Reading Debate on this Bill he said:No one will accuse me of not having done something for the universities …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February. 1948; Vol. 447, c 937.]Because as Chancellor of the Exchequer he had authorised grants from the Treasury, etc. I think it is pretty dangerous when an individual person says, "No one can accuse me of having done nothing for the universities," ballet dancers, or anything else for which public money has been handed out. That seems to me to be a dangerous kind of argument.
I invite the attention of the Committee to this point: If it has become necessary for the Treasury to make considerable grants to the universities, why is that? It is because of the change which, for all I wish to say for the purpose of this argument I am prepared to describe as the wholly beneficial change, in social and economic circumstances in the last 20 or 3o years, which has, in view of the present extreme Government interference with everything by legislation delegated legislation and legislation by suggestion, one might almost say, reduced the capital of the universities effectively or potentially to nil, and there is no chance of their being re-endowed, a possibility which was very great only a comparatively few years ago. Eight, nine or 10 years ago they were still receiving large endowments. That also has been removed by this process of which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are a part, or the process is a part of them, I do not know which.
Therefore, when it is said that there has been "generosity" to the universities in this matter, it is important to remember the other side of the case. It is universally agreed that if the normal rule of,Who pays the piper calls the tuneis exercised at all excessively in regard to the universities, the effect is bound to be—and I have never heard anyone of any point of view in politics deny this—intellectually and scientifically bad in the long run, and indeed, in a pretty short long run. I think that that is generally agreed.
It is now more than ever important that universities should have two channels of communication with Whitehall and Westminster. They have one, as any formed 1921 body of men has. Their vice-chancellors, hebdomadal councils, etc., can come to London or write to London, negotiate with Ministers, top civil servants, the University Grants Committee, etc. That is a beneficent channel of communication, and, for all my argument needs, is exercised on both sides with perfect wisdom and perfect virtue. But if that becomes the only channel of communication, then the danger to academic independence will be overwhelmingly great.
Even if the universities have not done a thing, actively and positively, for the relations between the universities on the one hand, and Whitehall and Westminster on the other, if all of us have not done a thing, the mere fact of our existence has acted as a ventilation and a safeguard to the other channel of communication and if you abolish this institution, I believe you cannot replace it. I hope that that argument is plain. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think it is merely partisan, but will take it seriously. There is much else I should like to say in general defence of the university seats. At the risk of wearying the Committee—I am bound to admit that today I am unscrupulous about that —there are a good many things I feel bound to say on this occasion.
I want to come to the so-called bargain, and to this point of whether there was a bargain, and whether the bargain is being kept. I really' do not think that there can be any doubt, after listening to my right hon. Friend's speech today, or to his speech on Second Reading, certainly anyone who has studied both those speeches cannot doubt it, that there is a conclusive proof that there was a bargain, an agreement, an accommodation, or call it what you will, to which both great parties were bound. I do not think that there really can be any doubt about that at all. I do not think that any candid mind—please note both words, "candid" and "mind "—leaving out prejudices and even hearts, can really doubt that he demonstrated that this agreement was intended to last for more than six months, or a year—until a new Parliament had been elected. I think that the case can be put even higher than he has put it. I beg hon. Members opposite to listen to me on this point. A constitution is the mode in which a State is 1922 organised; a body of fundamental principles according to which the State is governed. I know that, because I found it in the dictionary.
Hon. Members opposite are anxious to be social democrats. They are anxious that we should not confuse them with some of the supporters whose votes they had at the last election, and with the two whose votes they still have in this House of Commons. I should be the last to complain of that. If they are anxious to be constitutional, I ask them to consider what is the constitution of this country. It almost boils down to this: that anyone who can get 51 per cent. of the House of Commons on his side, at any given moment, can do anything he pleases, the only limit being that the House of Lords may hold it up for a few months, if it is something legislative, and secondly that in a barely conceivable set of circumstances the Crown might think it right to risk its very existence by refusing the desire of the majority, and trusting to get an alternative majority.
I do not think that anyone will question me so far as I have gone. I have forgotten what is exactly the proportion of hon. Members opposite in this House. I think it is 65 per cent., on receiving 47 per cent. of the votes at the last General Election. What is the very last thing with which a House of Commons, so near to the point of extreme uncontrolled omnipotence, can interfere with without avowing itself unconstitutional in any sense of the word "constitutional" which was current before 1945? That this majority in this House should be used for the purpose of altering the constitution of this House of Commons, is the most extreme of all exercises of constitutional power. It is contrary to all precedent and habit that this House should ever arrange for alterations to its constitution, except after great, and I think always successful, efforts have been made to get a wide degree of agreement between the main parties beforehand. [Interruprtion.] 1832 is quite a different thing. If it is the "flapper" vote, that, I think, was sufficiently dealt with by my right hon. Friend from the Front Opposition Bench. This is a very extreme thing to do. Therefore, I say that not only was there a bargain or accommodation at the Speaker's Conference, but that there was something more than a bargain; this is much more 1923 nearly an Original Compact, on which everything legal and constitutional depends: that this House should not itself arrange for a change of its own constitution by a transitory majority.
The Lord President of the Council must be very familiar with the things he has said on this point. I can give him the references if he likes. Not only was this a sort of compact, but it was more than a compact—something almost amounting to the Original Compact of Locke. Why on earth did the Conservative majority make any concessions at all? The Lord President of the Council said that he could not imagine how, unless it was for the British genius for compromise and the desire for compromise at the Speaker's Conference, how the Conservatives had come to do certain things, including adding six million votes to the municipal franchise. If the intention was all along that whoever has a majority at the next election does exactly what he chooses about the composition of the House of Commons, why did not whoever had a last majority then do what suited them—that was us?
There is really no room for argument; if there were, the argument of my, right hon. Friend was unanswerable. But there is really nothing to argue about; the whole nature and essence of the Speaker's Conference was that there should be some degree of permanence; it has no meaning whatever without that. Hon. Members who light-mindedly, without taking the trouble to look into it doubt that, are making quite certain of disaster, apart from more important entities, to their own party. You cannot for long get away with intellectual nonsense, or with a plain and obvious neglect of elementary fairness. There is not the least doubt about it that the whole nature of the Speaker's Conference was such as I have indicated. I have one other argument on this point, and then I have a sentence or two more before I sit down. My last argument is this. I should like the Lord President of the Council to listen to me. If the Speaker's Conference was intended to last only six, 12 or 18 months, how long is the present Conference about the relation between the two Houses intended to last? Is that also intended to last only to the next General 1924 Election? I am not going into that question, Major Milner. I am merely asking how long it will last, because that question blows away the whole argument we have had from the Treasury Bench.
There is something general to be said finally. I would not be sentimental about this; and certainly I would not disavow personal concern in the matter, as many of my colleagues have done, no doubt quite honestly. I have extreme personal concern in the matter. [Interruption.] Certainly, I have. Why not? I would not be sentimental about it. Let hon. Members pause and consider what we at this moment owe to the universities in the quite recent past. The Home Secretary has spoken about Limehouse and the present smallness of its population being due to enemy action. The smallness of the university population is very largely due to enemy action. The percentage of deaths among university graduates is very much higher than among the general population. That makes a perceptible difference to our numbers. That is one of the things fair to remember about the last two wars.
Right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite are rightly proud of what they have done to make it easier for scholars to go to the universities, to do well there, and to do all the better afterwards. I entirely agree with that. Perhaps I may be forgiven for saying this: I think I am probably the first university Member who owes his education wholly to scholarship, and perhaps I may be permitted a moment of sentimental regret when I see that I may be the last as well as the first. Right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not nearly sufficiently grateful to the universities and colleges for what they have done in that matter in the past. When some courtier came to Henry VIII and suggested that, having got all he could get out of the church, he should take another pocketful of capital out of the universities, he appointed a commission to go into the matter, and when they came with their report, he said that he was amazed that so many men were decently maintained and usefully occupied at so low a cost, and he refused to attack the universities. The resident teacher members of the universities have never been at all well to do even by professional standards. They have always done, both in their 1925 personal and in their corporate capacity, all that they could for the encouragement of scholarship among those whose parents were not well endowed, and to ensure help to them. About that there is not the very least doubt.
Do not let us throw away this safeguard for academic freedom. It is a great safeguard of academic freedom. One of the drawbacks of treating the withholding labour as the strongest of all economic and political forces—one of the drawbacks to that habit of mind is that it acts in a disgenic manner. If academic liberty were seriously infringed, it would not be so obviously inconvenient in three days' time as if all the dustmen went off, or all the liftmen, or all the furnacemen. That is true, but in a short period, whether we were conscious of it or not, we should be extremely inconvenienced. If we must throw away this safeguard of academic freedom, do not let us pretend that we do it because it is intolerable on arithmocratic grounds. That can be shown to be a piece of hypocrisy. And do not let us say that it is done because the universities in fact at the last General Election tended to swing the opposite way to the general population and because most university members are not such as would be nominated by Transport House. That is not really a respectable argument, and I hope that it will not be used any more.
Do not let us pretend this is not a blow at learning and the learned professions, because it is. We had the argument, when talking about the health service from two hon. Members and I think from one right hon. Gentleman opposite, that of course medical men could not be expected to have valuable opinions about politics because they were so busy being medical men they had not the time for politics. If we are now to be told that graduates in general are not such that the community ought to make sure of their having a small representation—I do not say that 12 is the right number—chosen by themselves—I have forgotten how many miners there are in the country and how many graduates; there are more miners than graduates but not so very many more; someone told me there were 50 miners' Members appointed directly by miners' lodges and another 5o indirectly; assume that that is an exaggeration and that the total is 6o or 7o—is it too much to say that graduates, who do not happen to be 1926 conveniently or properly organisable on a trade union basis and do not happen all to live together and are scattered about—to say that it is desirable in the interests of the community that in this Chamber which has become so extremely sovereign over all our activities, that they should have some representation here? To say that that cannot be accepted clearly deals a blow at learning and the learned professions.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
There have been two aspects of the Debate which has taken place. One concerns the breach of faith alleged against His Majesty's Government and against the Labour Party. The other-concerns the merits of the question which is before us, namely, the wisdom or otherwise of university representation. I aril glad that the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) developed the last argument, because it had not, up to that point, had a great deal of consideration in this Debate, and I do not know that it was adequately expressed on Second Reading. It is, of course, the real issue which is before the House, although it is perfectly legitimate to argue, if it is believed, that the Government had committed a breach of faith.
I want to say at once that I entirely dissent from that allegation and I would say that if an allegation of breach of faith is made it is for those who allege it to prove it. I should be willing to submit to any impartial body that the Opposition had not proved their case that the Government are guilty of a breach of faith or that the proceedings of the Speaker's Conference in the last Parliament or the proceedings of the last Government in any way bind the present House of Commons. They have not proved their case in the least, and I do not admit it for one moment.
I do not think that the hon. Gentlemen who have the power are being very generous. I am quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to be uncandid, but it has never been asserted here that it bound the House of Commons. What has been asserted is that it bound the Ministers and party opposite.
§ Mr. Morrison
If it is argued by the hon. Gentleman that if the House of Commons is free, but the party sitting on this 1927 side is not, it means that the party leaders on this side have got to dictate to the newly elected Members of the House of Commons how they hall conduct their business irrespective of their wishes.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Morrison
It has not and it ought not to occur that a university Member should advance a constitutional doctrine which is utterly destructive of Parliamentary rights. This is a fundamental right.
I wish to deny that party leaders in the last Parliament or the Speaker's Conference, as far as I know, not having been a member of it, sought or intended to fetter their own or anyone else's discretion in the new Parliament. Further, I will advance this argument, that in any case they had no right to do so, because if there is anything which stands out in our Constitution it is that the Parliament of the day has the right to act within the proper limits of the Constitution. If party leaders on this side were to have gone to my hon. Friends in this new Parliament—a very different Parliament and a very different Labour Party—and had said to them, "We are sorry but you cannot do these things because we entered into certain undertakings with the last Government and with the party leaders in the last Parliament," I could tell hon. Members on the other side what my hon. Friends would have said to us. I can assure them it would not have come off, and I would say that my hon. Friends would have been absolutely right to resent and resist any such argument.
I do not rest the Government's case on that point alone. I absolutely and flatly deny that there were any undertakings or commitments as far as the Labour Party leaders in the last Parliament, or as far as the Labour Party Ministers in the War Coalition Government, were concerned. I repeat, there were no commitments whatever, and no restriction either on our freedom to consider the merits of each case in the light of the circumstances as they occurred, or on what our point of view would be in this Parliament. What we did in the last Government was to reach accommodations as to what could be done in that Parliament in so far as legislation 1928 was necessary and expedient. We arrived at that accommodation, and on the Floor of this House we voted for the implementation of those conclusions by that Government. I myself stood at this Box and resisted more than one Amendment to two Bills moved by my hon. Friends from the Opposition side of the House because I took the view—naturally—that the Government of which I was a Member had come to a decision, and I must uphold their point of view in the House of Commons.
Moreover, the proceedings of the Speaker's Conference naturally influenced the Government and the party leaders of the day, even though we were free to disagree with those conclusions had we so wished. They were discussions as to what should be done by that Parliament and by that Government. Not the smallest evidence of any substance has been produced to show that either in the Speaker's Conference, in the attitude of the Government, or in the proceedings of Parliament was there any commitment to the view that when we came to the new Parliament we should be bound by all the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference. The right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), in somewhat extravagant language at times, accused us of a breach of faith. He argued that there was a bargain which was binding on the parties, lip to that point there is some truth in that, but when he went on to say that the bargain is operative today I absolutely, flatly and categorically deny it, and I say he has not proved it. He actually had the indiscretion to quote Lord Pethick-Lawrence who was a member of the Speaker's Conference. Lord Pethick Lawrence, in an "Evening Standard" interview, said that there was a gentleman's agreement at that time and that there were accommodations, but he went on specifically to deny that those committed future Parliaments. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman quoted Lord Pethick-Lawrence at all, as he is clearly a witness on my side.
The right hon. Member for North Leeds argued that his case was proved in part by the fact that the Boundary Commission, with whose report we are dealing in this Bill, was appointed under a Statute passed in the last Parliament which he and I piloted through the House of Commons. He said that, therefore, is proof 1929 that the Government themselves did commit this Parliament. I cannot understand this argument at all. There was an Act of Parliament in the year 1944. Under that Act it was provided, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that a Boundary Commission should be appointed and that the case of the first redistribution should be submitted in this Parliament in the form of a Bill. That was clearly the implication of the Act, and, thereafter, it was to be done by Order subject to affirrnative Parliamentary Resolution. That is perfectly true. To allege that, because the Government have carried out the intention of an Act of Parliament and the actions of a previous Parliament, therefore, we are not free to take a different view from the previous Government or Parliament is quite beside the point and is ill-founded. If we had wished to disagree with the Act of r944 we could have disagreed with it, but to allege that merely because we have carried on with a number of the provisions of the Act of 1944 and brought into being a high proportion of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, therefore, we have got to carry out all the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference is ridiculous. It is almost inviting us to disagree with every one of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference for the fun of the thing, and to prove how logical we are. So there is nothing in that argument.
The right hon. Gentleman has asked—and this follows upon what I have said—is this a voluntary action or is it because of certain commitments made in the last Parliament. This Government and this Parliament, within the proper constitutional field, are entitled to do what they like about this matter. It must be so, and it is true, therefore, that this Bill is a deliberate act on the part of the Government, because it believes that the Bill is right. There was a reference to various committees, some of which were appointed by myself and some by the present Home Secretary. He will deal with that and it is better that he should deal with the indictments against him. However, I am bound to say it does not impress me, although I think it was a bit ingenious —or ingenuous, I am not sure which—on the part of the right hon. Gentleman quoting from my right hon. Friend and taking a chunk out of the middle of what he said and remarking, "So there you 1930 are." My right hon. Friend will deal with that.
Because some of these committees were appointed by myself under a previous Government and reported in this Parliament, and because the Carr Committee report made some recommendations about universities, therefore it has to be assumed that this Government is bound to preserve university representation is again pre posterous and absurd. The Carr Committee had referred to it a whole number of technical things. I forget whether I set it up or whether my right hon. Friend did, but I rather think I did in the first instance. If I did, it was perfectly natural that the universities should come within this sphere because I was acting as Home Secretary in a Coalition Government, and in any case it was desirable to have their observations on certain technicalities connected with, university representation because at that time no decision had been reached whether the university representation should go on or not, except that it obviously went on over the period of the last General Election. I just do not follow all this argument—that because certain things ran on from the last Parliament to this and that because these things arose out of the Speaker's Conference—we have, therefore, to do in this Parliament everything the Speaker's Conference recommended. I really do not follow it and I cannot accept it——
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with this point? I am sure that he would agree that the abolition of the university seats is at least important. Why did the Lord Chancellor when he was questioned on what the King's Speech meant, say that if noble Lords looked at the Report of the Speaker's Conference and two other documents which he named, they would know precisely what this Bill was going to do? Surely that was an absolute undertaking at that time that the university seats were not going to be abolished?
§ Mr. Morrison
It is not easy for one man to follow the exact mental processes of another man in answering a Parliamentary point. My impression is—I believe this to be the case—that points had been raised by Lord Samuel referring particularly to proportional representation, and it was in thinking of the proportional 1931 representation aspect that my noble Friend referred to the Speaker's Conference. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] There are reasons which I could add, but they are of an internal Cabinet nature, from which I am quite clear that my noble Friend could not have meant to say that the university representation would be preserved. In any case, it was a very short passage. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It was——
§ Mr. Strauss rose——
§ Mr. Morrison
One moment. Let the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities keep cool. Anybody who reads that passage and seeks to build upon it a specific pledge on behalf of His Majesty's Government that university representation is to be preserved, is much too imaginative for my understanding. It is entirely beside the point.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sure that it is the right hon. Gentleman's memory which is playing him false. The Lord Chancellor in another place specifically informed Lord Samuel——
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of Order. How far is it in Order either for the hon. and learned Member to ask or for my right hon. Friend to answer questions about what somebody said in another place during this Session?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I understand that the hon. and learned Gentleman was referring to a Government announcement of policy. This is in Order.
§ Mr. Strauss
It is the Debate on the King's Speech to which I am referring. The Lord Chancellor informed Lord Samuel that he must make it quite clear that the Bill would not deal with proportional representation, but then he went on to refer to the Speaker's Conference and said that if the noble Lord would refer to the Report of that Conference and two other documents which he named, he would know precisely what the present Measure was going to do. Surely it is incredible that the Lord Chancellor would have said that unless he was saying the truth about the position at that time?
§ Mr. Morrison
The trouble with the hon. and learned Gentleman is that it is incredible to him that anybody should ever say anything which is inconvenient to him and his convictions——
§ Mr. Morrison
Therefore, he prefers to make whatever interpretations of anybody's statements are convenient to his convictions and opinions. I only say that any fair-minded person reading this very brief reference by my noble Friend in another place really would not bind him to the details of a big Bill of this kind and to the whole of the Speaker's Conference Report——
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden).
The right hon. Gentleman tries to dismiss the argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) but the Prime Minister at a very equivalent date—21st October, 1947—on the Debate on the Address said, in answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), who asked some questions about the Representation of the People Bill:That is brought forward from the Speaker's Conference, and I am sure he will await the Bill…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1947; Vol. 443, C. 33.]This is giving the impression—
§ Mr. Morrison
The two right hon. Gentlemen had better stick to the same words. I have not got the quotation before me but the right hon. Member for North Leeds said that the question put to the Prime Minister was in respect of redistribution——
§ Mr. Peake
No, but I can give it from memory. The question was in regard to the meaning of a phrase in the 1933 King's Speech relating to electoral reform. In reply, with reference to the Redistribution of Seats Bill, the Prime Minister said—and this is where the right hon. Gentleman has got confused—that it was brought forward from the Speaker's Conference.
§ Mr. Morrison
That is what I am getting at. That is rather different from the way in which the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) put it. This is a Bill for the redistribution of seats and it is being brought forward and it is a matter which was dealt with by the Speaker's Conference. Cannot the Prime Minister say that without being accused of having promised to preserve university representation? This only shows the utter thinness of the Opposition's case and the peculiar liking they have for the belief that Labour people are the kind of inferior people who cannot keep promises.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I do not wish to go into details on this, but is it not perfectly well known that the Cabinet came to this decision during the last two years? Nobody can tell what date, but it was at a later date. Whatever was said then, this is a decision made at a later date and the previous statement might be completely inconsistent with the later decision.
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman, who has been a Minister, will appreciate that I cannot reveal the details of Cabinet discussions. The question he has put is a perfectly fair one. I can only say that the partial assumption behind the question is not accurate. I cannot say more than that.
It is also asked how we could have got an honourable discharge from these undertakings or bargains. I deny the undertakings and deny the bargains and say that no material evidence has been produced to show that there were any such undertakings or bargains. On the assumption that he was right, the right hon. Gentleman asked how we could get an honourable discharge. He said that we could have had another Speaker's Conference. I think I answered that before in the case of the statement made by Mr. Baldwin when he was Prime Minister. The other point was that we ought to have had an electoral mandate for the 1934 specific proposals in this Bill. I speak from memory as from 1918, but I do not see how there could then have been any electoral mandate, for that Parliament had lasted since 1910 and, as far as I know, there was no electoral mandate, and anyhow it was a Coalition Government——
§ Mr. Morrison
I will come to that. There was another argument in the case of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, 1928. As far as I remember, there was no electoral mandate for it. I do not think the Conservative Party had it in their electoral manifesto of 1924. Probably the diehards in the party machine were too powerful for them to put it in; they were the trouble when it was put through Parliament. Therefore, I do not see that there was a mandate——
§ Mr. Morrison
One moment, I will come to that. As a matter of fact, in my own Measure in 1944, which made some important changes in electoral law, no party had any mandate for doing that, I think. The mandate argument and the Speaker's Conference argument both go down on their own bases, but there is always another shot in the locker of the Opposition, and that is that there was agreement. So it is now being argued that the Opposition has a sort of veto, that if they do not agree with the Government doing something in this sphere, we cannot do it. We have had quite enough trouble on this question of vetoes in the matter of another place and I suggest that the argument that the Government cannot act unless they carry with them the Conservative Party in this class of business is unreasonable and, quite definitely, we are not prepared to accept it. I shall now leave the argument of an alleged breach of faith. I deny and repudiate it with vigour and with absolute definiteness, and I assert that it has not in any way been proved. The accusation has been made, but there has been no proof.
Now I come on to the merits of university representation, which is really what the Debate is about, but one was bound to occupy some time in answering these 1935 allegations of bad faith. The right hon. Gentleman said that the universities had returned notable people, and that there have been many recruits into the universities from the elementary schools. The same argument was made on that last point by the hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Piekthorn). I entirely agree with him that over the last 50 years or so, even a shorter period——
§ Mr. Morrison
—there has been a remarkable change in the composition of the universities and their students. When I was a boy, my recollection is that the chances of an elementary schoolboy going to the university were negligible.
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) grew up at about the same time, I remember, because he was a trouble to me even in those days, and he says, one in a hundred.
§ Mr. Morrison
I agree with the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) that the hon. Member for Rugby is optimistic and that it is nearly one in a thousand. I may be quite wrong but, as a matter of fact, I do not recall examinations for the secondary schools in the school at Stockwell Road to which I went, and I do not believe that central schools then existed. That was the situation then, and so I was a child, and am a child of the elementary schools. It makes me proud of the fact that, notwithstanding that, the elementary schools helped to give me a good knowledge, and perhaps helped to give me some good and useful reasoning powers, and I am grateful for my elementary school education. It is possible, being an elementary school boy and never having got beyond it, and having left at 14, to have a vindictive feeling, if one liked, against the universities, but I assure the Committee that I have no such vindictive feeling.
I am delighted that, as the years have passed, a very high proportion of the university undergraduates have come from the elementary schools on scholarships. 1936 Indeed, why should I not be delighted, because the Labour Party, as much as any party, has advocated that that should he so, and our local education authorities in the great corporations of Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, the London County Council and others, and we ourselves, have played a big part in facilitating boys and girls of the working classes going to the universities. And I am delighted that at long last, after years of stodgy reaction, the University of Cambridge has begun to admit women in a proper way to the university.
Therefore, one is glad that that should be so, and I agree that there has been an almost revolutionary change in the composition of the universities over a limited period of years. But to argue as the Opposition does, that because boys and girls of the class to which many of us belong have now got to the universities, that ought to give us a class bias in favour of this form of plural voting and the separate representation of the universities, is really a very naughty argument. It is an appeal to selfish class interests; it is urging upon us that we should take, not a wide public-spirited view of university representation, but a purely class-conscious point of view, a proletarian class-conscious point of view, so that that will fit in with other class-conscious points of view, and a coalition of the two will pull off the university representation.
I do not care whether the whole 100 per cent. of the university undergraduates come from the elementary schools; I do not care whether the whole of them are thoroughly proletarian and working class in origin; I still say that that form of plural voting representation is wrong, and that it has no more right to special representation in Parliament than has the Old Scholars Association of the Stockwell Road Board School to which I went. No more and—I want to be fair—no less. I submit that that argument goes down.
The hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Cambridge University, I thought, took a little too much pity on himself when he drew a picture, which nearly brought tears to my eyes, of being the accused person in the dock, waiting to be dragged along to the Tower to have his head cut off. He is quite right about the Tower. I have just been reading a book on the life of Henry VIII——
§ Mr. Morrison
I was looking up the possible origin of delegated legislation. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Gentleman says, as far as I can tell, that it was customary for the prisoners about to be beheaded to be permitted to make a speech to the populace who were witnessing the sad occurrence, although I am bound to say that the executioner or the gaoler at the Tower had a habit of saying "You can say something, but don't say much; cut it short." Well, we did not say that to the hon. Gentleman and, indeed, were delighted that we did not, because he gave us an interesting speech, with most of which we disagreed, but it was an interesting speech. I remember that Anne Boleyn was particularly encouraged not to say much, which perhaps was just as well in all the circumstances of the case.
The hon. Member referred to overseas graduates, but, if I may say so, I think he overdid that argument. I cannot believe that the people overseas have such an intimate tie-up with university Members of Parliament in particular that they would think it was absolutely essential to preserve them. He also argued that the university Members are known to a higher number of the electors of the universities. If I may say so with respect, I doubt it very much. They may be, I concede this; I imagine that they probably are quite well known to a high proportion of the persons now in the universities, working in the universities, and so on, and, of course, to a proportion of those who have left and whom they have known personally in earlier years. However, there must be a high proportion of the university electors who have been away for such a time, without revisiting the universities, that they would not necessarily know the hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Cambridge University or the other university Members. Moreover, there is this awkward fact, that at the last General Election the percentage of electors voting in the university elections was abnormally low as compared with the country as a whole. It was about 50 per cent.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Morrison
My recollection is—and by all means let me be corrected if I am wrong—that the facilities for Service people voting were open to university electors like other electors and I have no doubt that they took advantage of their opportunities as much as other people. I do not think that is a very valid argument.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Perhaps I did not make myself plain. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has missed the point. In a normal constituency nine-tenths of the people were present and the odd tenth were away on active service. With us the whole thing had to be done by postal facilities. Some nine-tenths of the constituency is masculine and more than half were of military age.
§ Sir A. Herbert
One more reason is that in the case of overseas voters, who came to one in six, or one in seven, of these voters, because of the shortage of aeroplanes, we were not allowed to send them the papers and they could not vote.
§ Mr. Morrison
Of course we are all speaking from memory and I may be wrong, but my recollection is that the facilities open to candidates in the case of university elections were the same as in other elections. The hon. Member for Cambridge University may be right in saying that the actual percentage of university people away on active service may have been higher than in the case of electors in other constituencies, but that does not account for the dramatic difference in the percentage of the poll between the universities and other constituencies.
I think the truth is as indicated by the hon. Member the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) that by its very nature the university election cannot be intensively conducted. It is a very polite affair. Election addresses go out and it is a postal affair. The electors are left to do what they like about it, or nothing, whereas in the territorial elections there are elaborate party machines, or independent machines, if desired, and there is canvassing. That is one of the difficulties about university representation, that it is difficult to get life into the battle that goes on to determine who is to win.
1939 I cannot see the argument that there is a connection between the return of M.P.s and the academic freedom of the universities. I cannot see the argument of the hon. Member for Cambridge University, although I listened to him with very great care. It seems to me that academic freedom is neither guaranteed nor promoted by representation in the House, nor do I believe academic freedom—to which I attach much importance—would be affected by the absence of hon. Members from this House. In any case, I do not think that is a relevant consideration.
The hon. Member for Cambridge University also referred to the fact that the Labour majority is higher than the electoral figures. That is perfectly true and it has happened before in our island story and we are glad that it is so this time. But the validity of our argument cannot be challenged because we have the fortune this time which has been held by the Conservative Party in the past. The hon. Member also said that this was a blow to learning and the learned professions. Again, I cannot see the argument. I cannot see that the presence or absence of Members of Parliament from the universities either helps or injures learning or the learned professions. The learning will go on and the learned professions will go on, and from time to time one of them will have battles with Ministers of Health.
The Labour Party has not experienced, the difficulty from which I understand the party opposite is inclined to think it suffers, of getting persons of intellectual attainments adopted in ordinary constituencies. We have had no difficulty and if we take the general run of university M.P.s, although it is perfectly true that some of them have stood out in the course of history, I must say that those have been well used in the course of this Debate. They keep cropping up, as Miss Wilkinson's Hire Purchase Bill and the Matrimonial Causes Bill of the hon. Member for Oxford University kept cropping up in Private Members' Time. That is all very well, but while there have been some distinguished persons there have also been plenty of others sent from the universities. I do not want to go into personal discussions as to the relative merits of hon. Members who sit in this House, but to suggest that the general run of university Members is 1940 of such a special nature and above the average of the rest of us, is a suggestion which I do not think bears examination, even though I admit that from time to time the universities have sent distinguished people here.
The objection we have is that this means a plural vote and a type of Parliamentary representation which is not rationally justified, and is not constitutionally justified. There is no more right to pick out universities for representation than the law, science, technical people, the learned societies, the medical profession and so on. There is no case for picking them out. It is an anomaly which started with James I, for some reason I have been unable to fathom, and even he did not get many university people into Parliament. We think it is an anomaly which is not now justifiable, if indeed it ever was.
I do not want the Committee to think, and I do not want the country to think, that the Government are taking this course out of any antagonism to the universities. We admire the universities, and it is perfectly true that the Government have not been ungenerous in relation to the universities, nor would we wish to be so. We have been as helpful as we can and the universities have been very helpful to the Government, and distinctly and notably to myself as Lord President of the Council, because I asked them for many things in connection with scientific affairs for the Government and the nation. Our relations with the universities have been good, and we would wish them to be so. I am an admirer of the universities, although I have never been a student there. I have been to debates, and knocked about in universities, and I wish I had had a university education. Do not let the Committee think that we are doing this out of ignorant class prejudice against the universities as such. We are taking this course because we genuinely and sincerely believe that it is inappropriate at this time to have this type of Parliamentary representation, which is not in accord with properly conceived democracy and which we think should now come to an end. In that spirit I commend the proposal to the Committee.
§ Sir Hugh O'Neill (Antrim)
I wish to intervene for a short time because, as the Leader of the House knows, I have been concerned with this matter probably 1941 rather more than most hon. Members. I was a member of the Committee on Electoral Machinery which was set up by the present Leader of the House in 1942. I was also a member of the Speaker's Conference. Both these Committees had one thing in common. They were set up to deal with two definite and distinct situations. First of all, to deal with the Election which would take place in the immediate postwar period, which was difficult because of the change in the population, and matters of that kind, and also to deal with the more permanent aspect of the matter which would result after the first postwar Election. The purpose of the Speaker's Conference was to try to obtain agreed solutions on various controversial points, such as the university franchise, to be incorporated in the redistribution Bill, which was going to come, and which is now before the House.
I say with complete confidence that no hon. Member entered that Speaker's Conference with any other idea than that its recommendations would be binding, in essentials, for both the immediate postwar Election and also the next General Election, after conditions became more normal. That is the situation in which we are today. I strongly maintain that the suggestion which is now made that its decisions are not binding on this Parliament is quite unwarranted. The right hon. Gentleman stated, quite properly, and quite truly that the House of Commons can do anything. Of course this House of Commons can do what its majority desires it to do. The right hon. Gentleman also said that he did not think the Government were in any way bound to carry out the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference.
But that conference was set up because there were a lot of highly contentious matters such as university representation, and it was desired, if possible, to reach an agreed decision from an all-party conference. It would not of course be binding for all time, but I contend that its decisions were certainly meant to bind the first postwar Election and the subsequent Election. The point is that the Speaker's Conference did reach agreement on a lot of very controversial matters. It was a very remarkable conference. Members of the Labour party, the Conservative party and the Liberal party, working together harmoniously, 1942 reached a lot of agreed solutions. One of these, adopted without a Division, was that university representation should continue. The right hon. Gentleman must surely realise that, in these controversial matters, a very great deal was given away by Members on this side of the Committee. There was the question of the local government franchise. Contrary to the views of most Conservatives, it was agreed to add some 7,000,000 voters to that register. This was a very large concession.
Another point, which I do not think has, been mentioned, was that at the Speaker's Conference the Conservative Members agreed that practically the only change in, redistribution which took place before the last Election, and that was that the very large seats were to be split up. The Conservative Members would have liked to see not only the large seats divided, but many of the small seats merged in larger seats. Because the Labour Party did not like that, as many of these small seats were held by them, the Conservative Members gave way on that point in order to secure unanimity and the small seats were not interfered with.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I find this very difficult to follow, but I am seriously worried about this point. I cannot see how all the Members of the Speaker's Conference on one side could have come to an agreement with all the Members on the other. No one has yet said by whom agreement was reached and between whom that agreement itself was concluded.
§ Sir H. O'Neill
There was no agreement in the sense that there was any signed document. It was a general all-party conference, which came to certain decisions, unanimously on the main points. Certainly we all thought, and I believe that my Socialist colleagues also thought, that that agreement would be binding, not only for the one election, but certainly for two. There was no agreement signed. It was what we have come so often to hear of now—a gentleman's agreement.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Was it expressed orally? The right hon. Member has said that there was no agreement signed. Was an agreement reached verbally, and if so, by whom, and when?
§ Sir H. O'Neill
Agreement was reached in the Speaker's Conference on certain controversial matters. It was understood that if one party gave way on one thing the other party would give way on another. That was, at any rate, my understanding of it, as a member of the Conference. I cannot tell the hon. Member any more than that. I think it is not denied that there was an agreement. The only thing which is denied is whether the agreement binds this Parliament. I maintain that it does, or that it ought to.
I do not propose to deal with the merits of university representation. I am in favour of it. I think university seats have a very strong claim to maintain their ancient representation in this House. It has been said that that means plural voting. If plural voting is the only objection—I know this point has been put forward many times before—why not allow the university elector to choose whether he will use his university vote, or his other vote? If that were done, there would not be plural voting. What I have said on the general question arises out of my experience on two important conferences in recent years, concerned with electoral reform and redistribution. I must say, in spite of the eloquence and able pleading of the Leader of the House, that this is a sorry business. The repudiation of the unanimous recommendation of the Speaker's Conference on this question of university franchise is a definite breach of faith, it is discreditable to this Government and it lowers the whole tone and standard of our Parliamentary institutions.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I have been most interested in this discussion. I do not want to deal with the controversial question of what happened before this Parliament was elected. The things which matter now are whether the special representation of the universities can be justified and whether that system leads to good results. While the Communist Party may be out to create a classless society by various means of which we cannot approve, we are out to lay a basis of equal values and opportunities so that all people will have the same chance, either in public affairs or in other respects, to get what our natural potential powers give us the chance of obtaining. I listened to one of the speeches from the opposite 1944 side of the Committee with great interest. I know that it was a great intellectual effort to show reason why the attitude of the Government ought to be changed but, for some reason or other, I could not follow the intellectual argument. I do not know whether that was due to my want of intellect or due to the rather indifferent exposition of the university representative. It may have been due to both.
The point may be laboured that there have been representatives of the universities in this House and that, in many cases, they have stood out as individuals; but the question arises whether that was due to something arising out of the special representation of the universities, or whether it was not particularly due to the fact that those individuals had special opportunities, perhaps from their youth onward, to develop their capacities. Perhaps because of that, they were outstanding compared with many other hon. Members of this House at that time. I noticed also that one of the speakers seemed to have a feeling that the miners were over-represented in this House because of the method of selection. I happen to be a miner although I represent a mixed constituency which includes one of the important areas on Tyneside connected with shipbuilding, and also a suburban area of Newcastle. I began to wonder whether, in reality, behind the opposition to this legislation, there was a feeling that someone was being prevented from taking advantage of special opportunities and others, like the miners, were over-represented.
On the question of representation in this House, what is it that matters? Is there anything in this Bill which retards the opportunity of any university man? Of course, there is not. If anyone wants to get into political life and he has been through a university, has he not had an opportunity above many other people to develop his capabilities and, as a result, will he not be in a better position to get into this House in ordinary competition with the rest of his fellow men? If he is not a Labour man, he is usually a Conservative or a Liberal. If he is an outstanding character representing a special viewpoint, he still has the opportunity of becoming a Member of this House. Thai is all we want.
We want opportunity to be given for the selection of the men best able to 1945 represent public life in the country. Of course, if they have ability and can express themselves and indicate that ability, then they have the same opportunity to be selected as anyone else. As the Leader of the House indicated, there are all kinds of classes and sections of society. There are all kinds of universities in life itself. There is the experience of the working man who has ability, who goes amongst his fellows and does a hard day's work. He may get special knowledge of a given industry which enables him to represent his fellows, deal with complaints and present their viewpoint on public matters. That is a university and, in many respects, if a man has ability, it is a better university than the real university.
This Bill merely represents the spirit of the times. We are out to do away with special privileges. We believe in equal opportunity being given to man. Having got that, we cannot see the necessity for having special representation of a special interest, whatever that interest may be. The old university representation, as it developed, was a class representation arising out of class interest. Whatever viewpoint we may have in politics, I think we all agree that the days of sectionalism and special representation are over, that we should have equality of opportunity and let the best man win. By passing this Bill, I think we are getting further down to the bedrock of democracy.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) who gave certain general arguments against the university franchise. The Leader of the House said just now that he was sorry that too little time had been taken up in discussing the intrinsic merits of university representation, which, he said, was the real question. Of course, it would be the real question if there were not a previous question, namely, whether it is right and proper for the Government in present circumstances to bring in this proposal. I think that previous question does arise. I was surprised to hear the Leader of the House dismiss the charge of what I will call a breach of an honourable obligation as lightly and cavalierly as he did just now. I would like to repeat that charge, and to make it quite clear to what address I send it.
1946 I do not, of course, claim that Parliament is not free to do whatever lies within its legal powers. But this proposal was not made by Parliament, it was made to this Parliament by Ministers who were deeply involved in the Speaker's Conference and in what followed after. I make no complaint of hon. Members on that side of the House, who gave perfectly respectable reasons why there should not be university representation as a permanent feature in our Constitution. I do not agree with those reasons, but they are perfectly respectable reasons, and I do not complain of hon. Members who having come in, like the hon. Member himself, at the last election express their views against the universities representation.
My charge is against the particular Ministers involved, first, the Ministers who were on the Conference, and, secondly, Ministers who, while not members of the Conference, were Ministers at the time the Conference took place. I think that, if we ask ourselves if there was an honourable obligation upon them to see that the recommendations of the Conference were implemented, whether in the Parliament of that time or in this Parliament, there are four reasons, which are cumulatively decisive for saying that they are so bound.
The first reason is that, in the very nature of the case, an all-party conference is intended to transcend the oscillations of party fortunes from Parliament to Parliament. I will not argue that further as it has been argued before. The second reason seems to me much stronger. Let us look at the actual Report of the Speaker's Conference. It includes a plan which is a balanced whole, one part of which could be, and, in fact, was, quickly enacted into law, the other part of which, in the nature of the case, could not be, requiring, as it did, the intervening work of the Boundary Commissions. The Speaker's Conference met in 1944. No member of that conference can have expected that the Boundary Commissions could complete their work in less than a period of some years. No member of that conference then expected that the Parliament of that time would last as long as would be required by the Boundary Commissions to do their work. Surely, that is clear.
1947 Therefore, it must have been in the minds of all members of the conference that, while part of the recommendations could be put into law in that Parliament, the other part must and could only be enacted in a later Parliament. Indeed, I need not argue as to what it is that hon. Members must have thought, as the Speaker's Conference Report is quite clear itself. It starts off by making a distinction between certain temporary recommendations, which, as it says, can and should be enacted before the election, that is to say, in that Parliament; and the other recommendations, which are to be enacted and brought into effect after an election, that is to say, in another Parliament—this one. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the members of that conference must have thought that part of their recommendations would be enacted in a later Parliament than the Parliament sitting at the time of the conference.
My third reason, which has already been referred to, is the statement made on behalf of the Government in another place. When we were discussing this question a little earlier, I complained to the Leader of the House that we had had no warning from any responsible quarter that this change was contemplated until 30th January, to which the Leader of the House replied, "Don't you read the Press?" I replied, "Yes, I do read the Press." I said I had seen in the Press, and my constituents had called my attention to, certain rumours that this step would be taken. I said however that I had also read the formal statement made at the end of the Debate in another place in reply to the King's Speech by the spokesmen of the Government, which said, quite definitely, that what would be in the Electoral Bill would be precisely what had been recommended. I asked the Leader of the House whether, in future, when we had a formal statement on behalf of the Government, on the one hand, and anonymous and unauthenticated rumours in the Press on the other, we should believe the second and disregard the first, to which I had no answer, except the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave a few moments ago.
There is one other reason, my fourth, why I consider that not Parliament, not private hon. Members, but Ministers are 1948 personally bound, and it is what the Secretary of State for Scotland said on Second Reading. Now, the Secretary of State speaks with rather a special authority, because he was the one Minister who was both a member of the Conference and was also chosen by the Government as one of their principal spokesmen to defend the proposal on Second Reading. What the right hon. Gentleman said was not that there was no agreement, but that, on the contrary, the Labour Party was released from the agreement by the fact that the Conservative Party had broken it. When we asked him how, he said in two ways; first since the General Election, two universities had elected Conservatives; and second, some of the hon. Members who already represented universities had voted against the Government. He referred in particular to the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) and myself. Those were the reasons why the agreement could be broken—because it had already been broken by the other side. They are extremely interesting reasons, and I will come back to them in a moment. I quote them now merely as recognition of the fact that there was indeed an agreement, and an agreement intended to operate not only in the previous Parliament but in this Parliament.
The speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland was very interesting indeed, because of the character of the reasons which he gave and because the reasons were quite clearly those which had actuated the Government. There is a convincing candour about the right hon. Gentleman and indeed a transparent honesty of the kind which is particularly revealing, because it comes from a man who blurts out the truth without apparently quite understanding the full implications of what he says. I think that all of us would admit the complete sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman and recognise that when he spoke to us he gave the real reasons which had actuated the Government in taking this step. What did he say? He said, as I remarked just now, that the agreement had been broken because two Conservatives had been elected, and because my right hon. Friend and myself had sometimes voted against the Government.
Let us examine what those reasons mean, and what they imply. They mean 1949 that when the Secretary of State was deliberating with his colleagues at the Speaker's Conference, he thought that he was binding himself, and that they were binding themselves, not merely to make some changes in an electorate, but binding themselves also as to what Members the electors would afterwards elect. This is a most extraordinary theory as to what members of a conference do and can do, and a very interesting constitutional theory. It is worth inquiring, too, what was the nature of the offence committed. It clearly was not that a party Member stood for a university constituency because Mr. G. D. H. Cole stood as a Labour candidate and as my opponent in a university election; and his first supporter in that election was the Prime Minister. That therefore is not the offence. Is the offence, not that they are party candidates, but that they are Conservative Party candidates, or is the offence that they are elected? Anyhow, it is a very interesting theory.
The other part of the right hon. Gentleman's doctrine is even more interesting. He not only said that it was an offence for Conservatives to stand as candidates, and to be elected; he said that my right hon. Friend and myself, in some way or other, justified the Labour Party in breaking this agreement because we had sometimes spoken and voted against the Government. That is to say, he thought that he and his colleagues were binding themselves at that time to secure that my right hon. Friend and myself, and other hon. Members, should vote in a particular way, or should not vote in a particular way. This, again, is an extraordinarily interesting constitutional theory. It is also extremely interesting as a candid and honest exposition of the reasons which apparently guided the Government in coming to this decision.
I asked the right hon. Gentleman in the Second Reading Debate whether he seriously meant that the Government's reason for the permanent abolition of University seats, some of which have been in existence for over three centuries, was to be found in the fact that he disliked the party complexion of some of the dozen present incumbents of these seats, or the personality or the votes of some of those actual individuals at this time. That, apparently, was his position. Is not 1950 such a reason petty, personal and perverse? I have no doubt that we shall now be given certain other reasons, and more respectable reasons, for this change as they have been given by the Government's back bench supporters, But these are the reasons given by the Front Bench.
§ Mr. Peart (Workington)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give a reason for his defence of plural voting? We are hearing a criticism of why its abolition has been introduced by the Government, but we should like to hear the case for plural voting.
§ Sir A. Salter
I will say a word in answer to that in a moment. It is perfectly clear that even if the intrinsic case against the universities were a strong one, it is still a fact that present Ministers were not acting honourably in bringing this proposal before Parliament at this time, and in these circumstances. If they had not done so, then the discussion on merits would not now arise. However, as I have said, I will make some reference to that in a moment.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
Would the right hon. Gentleman say how it would not arise? He would have to decide, and to vote, on the proposal before the House. We are being told by the right hon. Gentleman that we have in no sense honoured the pledge given, but will he tell us why any discussion on the proposal is irrelevant, and why he will not state the case for plural and university voting?
§ Sir A. Salter
It would not now arise, because this proposal has not been brought before Parliament by Parliament; it has been brought before Parliament by Ministers who, in my contention, were in honour bound not to bring it forward at the moment.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
I am one of the people on these benches who were not in the previous Parliament, but who, if the Government had not introduced this Measure, would have put down a Motion, which would have been carried.
§ Sir A. Salter
I say at once that I have no complaint against hon. Members such as the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) who has just made the intervention. Perhaps it would have arisen by a Motion put down 1951 as he says. However, it has, in fact, arisen through Ministers bringing forward the proposal on their own full ministerial responsibility.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the merits of the proposal? They are what we are interested in.
§ Sir A. Salter
If the "previous question" were decided as I think it should be, then the question of merits would not arise. Looking at the whole of the case, not merely as I put it now, but as it has been developed, both in Second Reading and today, I find it extraordinarily difficult to understand how any objective observer could come to any other conclusion than that the Ministers who have put forward this proposal were not honourably able to do so in these circumstances. I was extremely glad to hear the Leader of the House say just now that he was willing to submit this question to an impartial body for their advice and expression of opinion on this point. I hope that was not an idle word, and that such an arrangement will be made.
The Committee may think that I have spent rather too much time in talking about the speech made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, but it really was a very interesting speech. I would just add that this Parliament may end our political life as university Members in this House, and may stifle our voices in this House. But if the university franchise is killed, some of us will still have enough life in us to attend the obsequies of the victim, and we shall have the right normally exercised by the mourners to choose the epitaph on the tomb. We shall certainly use our voices and our pens outside this House, even if no longer inside it; and I think we shall agree to choose as the epitaph the crucial words of the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
But the Secretary of State for Scotland was not alone. In winding up the Second Reading Debate, the Leader of the House began his speech at 10 minutes past nine, and did not refer to the universities—which was, after all, the main departure from the Speaker's Conference Report—until, I think, 9.55. At 9.58, he suddenly lauched a personal attack on university Members in respect of their personal attendance. He knows perfectly well, as 1952 my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) said, that the Division record is quite irrelevant because, as regards those of us who are Independents, we frequently attend the whole day and do not vote. That is not because we find it more difficult than other people to make up our minds on a particular question, but because, when hon. Members who belong to a party have no particular view on some minor details of a Bill, they naturally vote for the general purpose of either supporting the Government, if they are hon. Members opposite, or of weakening the Government if they are hon. Members on this side of the House.
But I was pledged to my electors—and other Independents may be in the same position—not to vote except on particular questions on which I had an opinion to express in accordance with the policy I advocated to my electors. Of course, therefore, the Division record is no barometer of attendance at all. My point, at the moment, is that the Leader of the House, in justifying this proposal in the last few minutes of a speech which took three quarters of an hour to deliver, gave a petty and personal reason, and made a shocking personal attack upon university Members. He deliberately timed it for 9.58, two minutes before the Closure, when, as he knew, no effective intervention could be made. If there was anything shocking, it was to make such a charge at such a time.
I have not spoken in general on the intrinsic merits of the university case and I do not propose to do so, except for a few words, for two reasons: first of all, if the case I have tried to put forward is right, this question would not arise, and, secondly, I think, as a university Member, that the positive merits of the university case are perhaps best put forward by other Members.
Just a word on the arithmetical principle, on which opponents of the university franchise chiefly rely. I am much intrigued by the metaphysical subtlety of the Labour Government's application of this arithmetic principle. In its relation to the university franchise it has an absolute sanctity; in relation to Scotland and Wales, and those other constituencies in each part of the United Kingdom where the recognition of some kind of special community has been allowed to lead to 1953 more than the arithmetical representation —in such cases, this principle has not an absolute sanctity but a qualified sanctity; and when we come to electoral procedure and such a question as proportional representation, it has no sanctity at all. This principle is the reason, the main and almost the only reason which is relied upon by people opposing the university franchise on merits; and in view of the exceptions I have quoted, it is really too much to regard it as sacrosanct in this one case.
I must say one or two words about Independents, because they were referred to both by the Secretary of State for Scotland the other day and by my right hon. Friend today. It is, of course, true that I and some other Independents have tended to vote and to speak more against the Labour Government than in their support. This is not an accident. The natural tendency of Independents is to be more often than not in opposition to any Government, whether of the right or of the left. The mere fact that they tend to be in the middle of the way, leads to this result. They are half way between—naturally tending to protest against Measures proposed by the right and to oppose Measures proposed from the left.
I can assure the Government that, so far as I am concerned—and I think this is true of other Members—I certainly do not speak or vote against this Government more frequently and more consistently than against the Conservative Government when it was in power. Independents are, of course, rather unpopular and likely to be disliked by any organised party, particularly by the organised party in power. That is not a novel or surprising phenomenon. I well remember that some 10 years ago the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) taunted me by quoting words of his distinguished ancestor to the effect that an Independent was a person who could not be depended upon. I said at once, that certainly the party organisation cannot depend on him but, for that very reason, the electors, to whom certain pledges of policy have been made, can rely on him rather more.
The fact is that any party organisation finds its ideal Member in the best disciplined Member. Walter Bagehot talks of a visitor coming into this House, looking along the serried ranks of the Government supporters and exclaiming in ecstasy of 1954 admiration—"By Jove, the finest brute votes in Europe." That, of course, is the natural ideal of any organised party, particularly the organised party which is in power for the moment. I do not for one moment contest the orthodox view that it would impair the efficiency of the Government if there were 100 or 200 Independents in the House. I recognise that the main basis of the Parliamentary representation must be through party organisation. Nevertheless, I suggest it is of some value, at any rate commensurate with the number of the University seats, that there should be at any time some Members—there are not likely to be more than about a dozen—who are not under party discipline. I well remember in the years before the last war that a very considerable number of the party supporting the Government which was in power differed strongly from the policy of the Government but could not say so. There was, indeed, one great man in the party of sufficient stature who could speak on any occasion and speak with effect. But it was an advantage that there were also certain independent Members—who did not have anything like his status, and who could not have spoken with effect had they been disciplined Members of the party then in power. It helped Parliament to crystallise its views that those Members should be in the House.
There is one other point I would suggest to the Government. I think if they go on with this proposal there will be very considerable political consequences. This will be regarded, whether rightly or wrongly, as another blow at the professional middle classes, who constitute a very considerable part of the floating vote which determines one Election after another. Over the last two and a half years this class has suffered one material injury after another. Many members of it, who supported the present Government at the last Election, have been wondering, and wondering more and more, whether these injuries were only the incidental and inevitable result of the Government's general Socialist policy, or whether there was not, sometimes, something like sectionalist malice as well—not, indeed, consistent hostility by the Government or by the mass of their supporters, many of whom, of course, belong to precisely this class, but a suspicion that now 1955 and then, here and there, the policy was in fact deflected by a certain incursion of political forces in which there was an element of malice. This suspicion has been mounting. It was because it existed that the silly phrase, "tinker's cuss," which would otherwise have been quickly forgotten, had such importance. It seemed to reveal and to confirm that suspicion. But this proposal is not just a silly phrase; this is action, this is a wanton and unprovoked blow. It is neither required nor justified by any mandate. It is not required by the general Socialist policy of the Government; it is a wanton, unprovoked blow without warning and, as I have argued, against what could properly be regarded as pledges by those who strike the blow.
In my last words I would like, not to discuss, for reasons I have mentioned, the intrinsic merits of the university franchise, but to make a request to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary who has, with the Prime Minister, a very special constitutional responsibility for what is now being done—while they were not equally involved with the other Ministers in the earlier stages, in the Speaker's Conference and so on—I would ask those two Ministers whether they will now carefully review the whole of the case which has been put on Second Reading, and again today, to the effect, not that the university seats should be permanent elements of the Constitution, but that in these circumstances this proposal should not now have been made. If they are convinced that it should not have been, I have sufficient respect for them to believe they would withdraw it. I would urge Private Members who have entered Parliament for the first time to vote against these Government proposals, even though they may have many reasons for voting against university franchise as such. Let them reserve their right to continue to advocate abolition later. But I would ask them not to vote against the university franchise now, if they are convinced that the Ministers whom they support were not free, in view of their previous engagements, to make this proposal now.
Let me repeat my exact charge. It is against Ministers. I do not allege any additional agreement reached outside the conference. I say that when 1956 Members take part in a conference like the Speaker's Conference, and agree unanimously, after a process of give and take, to certain recommendations which form a balanced whole, they are honourably bound to give effect to those proposals for the period to which those recommendations were intended to apply; and, as I have tried to argue, that period certainly extended beyond the Parliament of that time into the period of this Parliament. I say, therefore, that for that reason they are honourably bound to refrain from making the proposals they have now made.
I say to hon. Members who on merits desire the abolition of the university franchise that they might well on this ground vote for the Amendment reserving their position to attack, the university seats as such on a future and more appropriate occasion. My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) is opposed to university seats, but she is against this proposal now, and said it ought first to be submitted to another Speaker's conference. I commend her example to other Members who take the same view as she does on the intrinsic merits of the question. I would therefore ask hon. Members who are in favour of the abolition of the university franchise to consider, before they take their final decision, whether there is not substance in the case that has been argued, and if so, whether they will not vote for the Amendment, and, while reserving their rights for the future, vote against the Government's proposal now.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I have listened, as I am sure all hon. Members here have, with great interest and attention to the very powerful and cogent arguments which have been addressed to us on this matter by the right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). Although I cannot bring myself to support his views, and, for reasons which I intend to indicate very briefly, cannot support this Amendment, I would assure the right hon. Gentleman that we all in this Committee admire his honest independence and integrity, and feel on all personal grounds that it would be very regrettable if, unhappily, he did not seek and obtain a seat here for some territorial constituency in another Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman addressed most of 1957 his speech to what he called the previous question, that is, to what has been called the breach of faith by certain Ministers; and he addressed only a relatively small part of his speech to the merits of the matter. He appealed to hon. Members on this side who are back benchers, and who, as he admitted, are not in any way bound by any pledges or agreement which he conceived to be binding upon certain individual gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench. I want quite briefly to explain the reasons why I am unable to support the retention of the university franchise.
First, however, I should like to say that I think we all agree that new Members of this House are not bound by pledges given in previous Parliaments—even if there was an agreement. Speaking for myself, I am convinced that, on merits, the balance of argument is for the abolition of the university franchise; but I would attach so much importance to the preservation of good faith between the parties, for the reason put forward in the argument of the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), that even although, on the merits of the case, I were obliged to vote for the abolition of the university franchise, nevertheless if I were convinced that there was a case of bad faith by the party to which I have the honour to belong, or by Ministers of the Government, in bringing forward this Measure, then I would accept that as more important, and support the bargain which was made.
However, having listened to or read all the speeches made on Second Reading and those which have been made tonight, having heard to what has been said on both sides, I find it very difficult to bring myself to believe that there was anything in the nature of a definite, hard and fast bargain between the parties, clearly and definitely recorded, precise in terms, precise in its extent, precise in its period of duration, which is of such constitutional importance that it ought to be binding not only on those who made it but upon this Parliament, and, indeed, upon the electorate, who are the people with whose interests we are primarily concerned. It seems to me that there may have been room for a great deal of misunderstanding about what went on in the Speaker's Conference. I do not think it is necessary to challenge the recollection 1958 or the good faith, either on the one side or the other, of those who participated in that Conference.
The noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady M. Lloyd George) did not know anything about this bargain, if there was a bargain at all. I gather it was a bargain between the parties. Incidentally, it seems to me that it ill becomes the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Burgess for Oxford University to plead this, because he claims all the merits and advantages of independence. I do not think he can have the best of both worlds. If he is relying on anything, I understand he is relying upon a bargain between parties from which he holds aloof.
§ Sir A. Salter
I said nothing whatever about a bargain between parties. What I did say was that when Members participate in a conference like the Speaker's Conference there is, surely, an honourable obligation upon them when, after discussion, they unite unanimously on certain recommendations, to carry those recommendations out. It is obligatory in honour upon the Members of that Speaker's Conference to carry out those recommendations, not only in that last Parliament, but in this one, too.
§ Mr. Fletcher
What emerges from that general proposition is, that if in future there are discussions between parties, such as those in a Speaker's Conference, or such as those now going on in regard to the powers and constitution of another place, it would be eminently desirable, when any agreement is reached, that it should be written down, recorded, and published, so that everybody may know what was intended by the participants, and so that there may be no further room for misunderstanding. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman that all this difficulty has arisen now because of various interpretations that are put on the one side and on the other upon certain speeches which were made subsequently to the Speakers' Conference in a Debate, and which contained merely incidental references to this matter. The position today on which back benchers have to express themselves is the intention at that time with regard to the duration of the alleged bargain.
§ Sir A. Salter
The Speaker's Conference Report of May, 1944, stated quite clearly 1959 the matters on which there was unanimous recommendation and this was one of them. The names are appended, the details are precise and there is no question of any difference of opinion. The only question raised was whether they were intended to apply beyond that Parliament. The Report itself makes a distinction between matters which could be enacted quickly and those which, in the nature of the case, could not be enacted until a later Parliament.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not think I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. The argument has now been repeated almost ad nauseam. I am bound also to give weight to what has been said by the Lord President and by other hon. Members who thought quite definitely that there was nothing binding upon any subsequent Parliament. If in future there are discussions between the parties on Constitutional matters, it would be desirable that they should be reduced to terms which are understood not only by those taking part but by the whole country. That, clearly, is not the case here. At the time of the election I knew nothing about this alleged bargain.
The matter was not directly in issue in my constituency. I do not claim to be in the position of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay), but if such a matter had been in issue and I had been asked to give my opinion, I should have said that I was in favour of the abolition of the university franchise. I am quite sure that the overwhelming majority of hon. Members on this side were not aware of any alleged bargain which would bind their voice and votes on this issue when they were returned to the House of Commons. I am equally convinced that if they had been asked to express an opinion to their constituents, or give a pledge to the electorate, the overwhelming majority would have said that the Labour Party long stood for the abolition of the university franchise and that, if the issue arose in the new Parliament, they would support the abolition of the university franchise.
That is the position in which we find ourselves today. The right hon. Gentleman addressed most of his remarks to the Secretary of State for Scotland and others who, he said, were responsible for 1960 introducing the Bill. But they also have a responsibility for doing the right thing by the electorate in this Representation of the People Bill. They cannot escape the responsibility of facing the issue of the abolition of the university franchise. As my hon. Friend in his intervention pointed out, if this question had not been raised by the Government it would have been raised by independent Members as, in fact, it has. As a matter of form there is no proposal in the Bill for the abolition of the university franchise. It is a Measure proposing that in future there should be certain constituencies. That may be only a procedural point, but it indicates significantly that this matter would have been raised in some way or other in the Bill. It is now being raised on an Amendment and the issue has to be faced on its merits.
I would explain, if I may, why I am personally opposed to the retention of the university franchise. I speak in common with a number of hon. Friends on this side who are university graduates, who are great lovers of the universities, and who believe intensely in the powerful contribution they can and will make to the efforts of this country. They believe also that it is quite unnecessary for the universities, in discharging their responsibility to the country to have this additional political privilege of special representation in Parliament. I approach the matter also as one who does not accept the suggestion that the university seats, if retained, will before very long be the concern of the Conservative Party. The hon. Member for the University of London (Sir E. Graham-Little) had a very narrow majority at the last Election and, if I may say so, scraped in by only a very small number of votes over his Labour opponent.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Fletcher
The views and principles of the hon. Member and his record of voting are well known in his constituency. All I would say is that the University of London is one, but not alone, of the universities which in all probability would have returned a Labour candidate at the next election. Therefore, Members on this side should not be accused of approaching this matter in any partisan spirit.
1961 On all sentimental grounds, I would like to see the university franchise preserved. It is an interesting feature of our Constitution which has a great deal of history to recommend it. This is a matter in which we must be really serious. The whole problem of framing our constitution as we go through the centuries is to arrive gradually at a closer approximation to a more perfect form of democracy. When university seats were first introduced, in the days when most other seats were the preserve of the landed aristocracy, they may have fulfilled a very real function. It cannot today be said that the preservation of the university franchise is necessary for the voicing and expressing of university interests in this House. Those who argue for the continuation of the university franchise must justify it on merit.
We have heard very little in support of the view that university franchise is necessary, but there have been attempts to support it for two reasons. One is that it is good for the universities and, the second, that it is good for the State. With regard to the first, it is now realised that there are numerous hon. Members on both sides who are able to put, in its wider sense, the point of view of the universities and the professions of learning and of education, irrespective of whether or not they sit for university seats.
I would remind the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), who spoke during the Second Reading Debate, that he gave his whole case away on that argument. He pointed out that in this country:we lag behind many other countries in the proportion of our people who seek and obtain a university education."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1948; Vol. 447, c. 888.]
§ Mr. Fletcher
The presence of university representatives in this House has not enabled us to achieve the much greater degree of university education that the United States and many European countries have obtained.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
If the hon. Gentleman will permit me, I would like to ask him whether he really considers that to have a higher proportion of the population at universities is proof of achieving a higher degree of education.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not want to get out of Order, but I will say that I do not think all is perfect with the universities.
§ Mr. Fletcher
We want many more universities; we want better universities; we want more popular interest in the universities; we want more money spent on the universities; and I think that the Government, during their period of office, have shown consistently their interest in and concern for the universities; but the needs of the universities are not necessarily best served by having a few representatives in this House of Commons. After all, education at a university is in itself a privilege: a privilege which carries with it responsibility, and which ought not, in my view, to be used as a basis for conferring additional and political privileges upon those already privileged. I resist this Amendment because I believe that the interests of the universities can be and will be promoted by this and subsequent Governments on their merits, and that real service to the universities and to education generally is not advanced by the presence in this Committee of Members specifically representing university constituencies. I do not think that argument can succeed.
The other argument is that the existence of a few independent Members, such as are provided by university constituencies, is something of value to the State; and it is said that in that way there can be elected to this Committee a few persons who would not be elected for any other constituency. I admit that I do not think much of that argument, because it is precisely the one used to justify the rotten boroughs before the great Reform Bill of 1832. The opponents of the Reform Bill said that unless there were rotten boroughs certain people who had rendered outstanding and distinguished service to the State could not get themselves elected, and it was argued that the requirements of the State made it necessary to retain the rotten boroughs. But that argument was rejected by the House of Commons and by another place, and has now been universally approved in this country. Precisely that self-same 1963 argument is now used for the retention of university franchise. It is said that in that way, and that way alone, can we enable certain hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies to render service as Members of Parliament. That argument has been rejected.
It is then said that, through the universities alone do we get a measure of independence, and that that is a good thing in these days when party discipline is becoming so strict, when most people are governed by a party caucus and can never break away from what their Party Whips say. That argument is manifestly untrue. If the Lord President were here I do not think he would say that there have never been any signs of independence on these benches. I would have said the contrary was the case. Since I have been a Member of this Committee there have been numerous occasions—perhaps too many for the Home Secretary and his colleagues—on which hon. Members, to whichever party they belong, have exercised their undoubted right to express their own opinions, fearlessly and independently. That claim to independence which I think is a good thing, is not involved in the retention of university seats. There will always be hon. Members prepared to put their own honest independent views—even if they disagree with their party—above the ties of party allegiance and party discipline.
Then it is said—and I mention it only in passing—by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University that one of the reasons why we should retain university franchise is that it produces some very interesting correspondence from British citizens residing abroad, who are also graduates, and who otherwise would not be represented. Why, I ask, of all the many British citizens who live abroad, should graduates alone be entitled to be represented? I have spoken for longer than I intended, but I hope I have indicated why, despite the sentimental reasons—which if they stood alone would prompt one to regret the passing of university franchise—I feel obliged to oppose this Amendment.
§ Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)
I am very pleased to follow a distinguished constituent of mine in the 1964 hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher). However, I wish to introduce quite another aspect into the Debate. University representation goes back to 1603. At that time the purposes of the representation were expressed as affording to the universities Members of the House of Commons who would be able to defend their interests. Unfortunately, that aspect of university representation has been omitted from the Debate so far. I want to illustrate how important university representation in Parliament may be to the universities concerned. I hope the Committee will forgive me for introducing a personal explanation, which I am afraid I cannot avoid.
In 1924 the Member for the University of London died suddenly, and coincident with the by-election caused by that death was a movement by the Labour Government then in office to reconstruct the University of London along the lines of what was known as the Haldane Report. That Report had been produced for the purpose of abolishing the external side of London University, in which it is unique. The hon. Member for East Islington is himself a Senate representative of that side, the external side, of the University at the present time. That report threatened the external side of London University, which dates from its foundation more than 100 years ago, and which has afforded opportunities of higher education to persons unable to afford the expense of resident colleges; and that opportunity has been taken advantage of by very many persons ever since that date. The proposals in the Haldane Report were supported by the Labour Party at that date, partly because Lord Haldane was a very prominent member of the party.
When that by-election took place, it was obvious to the university itself that a very determined effort would be made to abolish that side of London University. At that time I was chairman of the council which looks after the interests of external students, and had long taken an interest in that side of the university. I was then urged to offer myself for election to defend that particular interest in the ensuing contest. I was very reluctant to accept the invitation; I was head of a medical department, at a great teaching hospital; I was absorbed in my medical work, and such a step was entirely foreign to any ambition I had previously held.
1965 But it was represented that unless somebody stood to defend that particular interest that interest would vanish. I offered myself for election, and I was opposed by a nominee of all the political parties—Conservative, Liberal and Labour. I won as an Independent, and I have remained an Independent for 24 years without interruption. I have had, of course, my own political feelings, but I have been a somewhat rebellious person in this House. Let me say, in passing, without bias, I hope, what would have happened if London University had actually suffered the fate which seemed quite inevitable at that time and which was averted by my election.
I would like to explain the external side of London University, which has been called, with great justification, the "poor man's university." It has afforded a higher education to many people who could not have got it in any other way, but it has done a very much more important thing. By reason of its privilege of conferring degrees for external students a number of university colleges in the country have sent their students to our examinations, and have built up a reputation for good education in that way. What has happened subsequently has been that these university colleges have developed into universities on their own account. In that way London University has been the mother of a very large number of modern universities. For instance, Reading University was a university college until it got its charter as a university, and the same change is likely to happen with other university colleges, such as Southampton, Exeter, Hull and Leicester. The work which has been done in that way, in the development of modern universities, has very largely come from the external side of London University. I contend that the abolition of that function would have been a very serious loss to this country and to education in general.
I would now like to say a word or two about Independence. I have the privilege of receiving Whips from the Conservative and Labour Parties. It is a very pleasant courtesy, which I am very glad to acknowledge. I am not a party Member; I have never been a party Member; I have never had any discipline from the parties and I realise, of course, that the Independent Member is a thorn in the 1966 flesh of the party Whips. The compilation of attendances at Divisions is one of the prime functions of the party "stooge." He has to make a record in that way to keep in the good graces of his party. That has never been required of me, and has never been performed by me. I am very glad to feel that, as an Independent Member, I am accountable only to my constituents. I have no obligations to any of the party Whips.
An attack was made upon me recently for what was called my "scandalous attendance" at Divisions. I was not present when the attack was made, as I had not received notice that it would be made. I can only reiterate that as an Independent Member I am accountable only to my constituents, and that the opinion of my constituents is the sole consideration I need keep in mind. The fact that my constituents have returned me for an uninterrupted period of 24 years is an indication of the confidence I have enjoyed from them. Perhaps I may indulge in a little retort: the Lord President of the Council was the Member who made that accusation against me by name. I have one very small advantage over the right hon. Gentleman. I understand that he has never been elected twice for the same constituency, in a very long and distinguished political career. I, at any rate, have that advantage over him.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
I speak as a graduate of one of the "red brick" universities, as one who has always been proud to be associated with that university, as one who has been a member of its Convocation for many years. Now, not because I am a graduate, but because I am a Member of Parliament for a Lancashire and Cheshire area I am a member of Court of my university. There can be no antagonism towards university representation from one such as me. Nevertheless I agree with the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher). When he used the phrase "sentimental attachment to the university franchise," it awakened in me a feeling of nostalgia for my own university. I approach this problem of university representation wishing that I could find logical arguments in its support. I would that I could persuade my conscience, in this year 1948, that there was one democratic argument 1967 of merit which remained to support special university representation. On whatever ground I approach this matter I find that there is no real argument of merit.
When I was recently in Liverpool I took my lunch at the University Club there. That is not only the Liverpool University Club; it is open to graduates of universities all over the country. There are many members of that club, and I was bombarded with so-called arguments, all of which began with the words, "Now, what about Eleanor Rathbone?" That is the only really sound argument I have heard. There was a fine woman, a proud Independent Member who was a worthy representative of the Combined English Universities. I regret to say that she was followed by the present representative, the junior Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), who is a diehard Tory, who does not represent the proud spirit of the North at all, and who, every time he speaks, adopts a violently venomous partisan attitude. The hon. and learned Member shows little of that detachment which one would expect from a university representative. I am sorry that he is not here at the moment; this is not the first time we have collided, and it will not be the last. We have expected from university Members the balanced kind of speech which we had from the senior Burgess of Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) and the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little).
Although we may object to one or two Members for the universities on personal or political grounds, that is no argument. We on this side support the Government because we believe they are doing the right thing. I believe there is no other democratic country save one, where there is exceptional representation for the universities. It is true to say that this Legislature differs from all similar legislative bodies, except Eire, and that is not a good precedent to follow.
Then one comes to the argument that this is an ancient right, but it is not one of the great ancient rights. It does not go back to Magna Charta. It started off with a bad Scottish precedent in 1603, and it was not for many years that the other universities obtained any franchise. Right up till 1832 there was no university representation except for the older universities. 1968 Dublin had been added in 1801. What are called the "red brick universities" were all added in the Representation of the People Act, 1918. One would have thought that after a war for democracy was not the time to give special representation rights or to make new university constituencies. I understand that the argument was put in this way: To the question, "Why should there be these anomalies"? the answer was, "Let us have anomalies for all." So all the universities were given representation.
What is the result of that? The Scottish Universities return three Members. They have 63,000 electors, less than my constituency. The Combined Universities, of which I am an elector, though I did not vote—yes, I am a plural voter—at the last Election I could have had three votes and at the next election I shall have one, which I regard as perfectly proper——
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
Wait till I have finished these figures. There are 43,000 electors for the Combined Universities; with two Members; 42,000 for Cambridge University, which returns two Members; 29,000 for Oxford, which returns two Members; 23,000 for London, which returns one Member. Wales returns a Member of Parliament with 12,000 electors. The hon. Gentleman who asks so many questions about Eastern Europe, the Member for the Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory), represents only 5,000 electors. Indeed of that number only 1,923 took the trouble to vote for him. His opponent recorded 728 votes, so out of the 5,000 electors only 2,651 troubled to record their votes.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sure that the hon. and learned Member does not wish to be misleading. Of course, he is misleading when he tells the Committee that he has three votes. He is qualified in three constituencies, but he cannot use more than two of those votes in one election. I hope that he will remind the Lord President of the Council.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
I am much obliged to the hon. Member. Perhaps he is not aware that I am a lawyer and am quite aware of my rights. I said that I did not use my university vote. One reason was that I felt it was more democratic to use my residential vote and, as it is 1969 still given to me, my professional vote. I used my business vote, and now under this Bill I am to have one vote, like all my fellows and most of my constituents in Crewe. I do not believe that my voice should count three times that of any of my constituents in Crewe. That is a bad principle. We shall never, of course, get one "vote," one "value," for which an hon. Gentleman pleaded this afternoon. Where any body of people in the community is given more votes than other bodies, the tendency in the past has been for those people to use their votes and their power in their own interests. That is contrary to the democratic principle. The total of the whole university electorate is 218,000 people, making the average for the university constituencies 18,000, against the average in non-university constituencies of about 66,000.
Let us turn to the composition of this House. It is said that if we abolished university seats the voice of the universities will not be heard efficiently and effectively in this House. That is a most unsound argument. On these benches are 31 Members of Parliament who are graduates of Oxford University, 15 graduates of Cambridge University and 55 graduates of other universities, making a total university representation on these benches of 101. [An HON. MEMBER: "Too many."] On the other side of the House are 62 Members of Oxford University, 39 Members of Cambridge University and 18 Members of other Universities, making 119 on that side of the House. That is a total of 220 graduate Members of the universities. It is absurd and ludicrous to suggest that the voice of the universities will not be heard in this Parliament. Any one of us would be only too ready to voice any of the demands, grievances or wishes of our own university or of other universities.
I am a graduate of my university and I am on University Court, but never have I been asked by my university to express their point of view. I find it invariably being expressed by the representative for the Combined Universities. When the special representation for the universities goes, it may well be that the universities will call upon their own Members of Parliament to put views before this House. They will find us very ready and able to do so. I see no reason for retaining this anomaly, and I propose to vote against the Amendment.
§ 7.45 P.m.
§ Sir John Graham Kerr (Scottish Universities)
We are constantly being told, in these days, of the national importance of our exports, but we do not often hear about one really valuable part of our exports, the export of university-trained men to our Dependencies overseas. Those people play an important part in our Colonies, as has already been mentioned by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn).
After more than 12 years' experience as a university representative, I can say that the most interesting and not the least important part of my work has had to do with such people. Perhaps I might cite a couple of cases at random to illustrate what I have in mind. One of these cases concerns the Mustapha school, near Aden, destroyed by a flood, the governors of the school having appealed in vain for Government help to rebuild it. The matter was taken up with the university representative, and he took it up with the Colonial Office. At that particular time Aden was not under the Colonial Office but under the Government of Bombay. This resulted in quite a long complicated set of negotiations which at last ended in a despatch from the Government of India saying that they had voted the necessary sum.
I quote another case, this time of an individual, an expert in science. He was a specialist in a particular branch of science rather than in tact. He "fell out" with his administrative superior and received notice of dismissal. His university representative was appealed to, and took up the matter. It is true that the man's dismissal was not countermanded, but after a while he was given a much more valuable post in another colony, where he proceeded to be the head of a great research department, and turned out splendid work. Instances like these tend to make me believe that it is most valuable that these people whom we export to our Dependencies should have the means, through their university representative, of having matters brought before a particular Government Department.
I do not mean to proceed with the Debate because I think it has already brought our all the arguments for and against university representation, certainly those for it. I do 1971 not happen to have heard any particular arguments against it, but I assume that they have been pretty well threshed out. I would, however, add a further point. Most of us have views about education. Some, like myself, have rather violent views about our present education in schools, and think that it is entirely unsuited to these days, and who believe that a revoluntionary change is required in our whole system of school education. But though we may vary in our opinions about that, I am sure that we are all at one in regarding the education of the citizen as one of the greatest and most important objectives. The most numerous representatives of education in our community are, of course, the school teachers. The one or two teachers in any one territorial constituency are numerically insignificant as compared with the other voters. They have little influence with their territorial representatives, but so long as they have got a university representative they can approach him, and he is bound to attend, and does attend, to their complaints.
I have quoted these two points because I should be sorry to think that after its three centuries of history university representation is now nearing its end. To my great regret the right hon. Gentleman told us that the present Government are shackled to that strange slogan, "One man, one vote," whether the one man is a lazy, drunken ne'er-do-well, or one who has shown himself to be a leader in trade, industry or science. However, the right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Government are inextricably shackled to that idea. If so, I beg him, while not not giving up his cherished bondage, least to think of allowing the university vote as an alternative to the topographical vote.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge (Bedford)
The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Graham Kerr) must forgive me if I do not follow up all the points he has put. I disagree with his assertion that the pros and cons of this issue have been fully put in this Debate today. I do not believe that the pros of the issue have been at all adequately presented. Most speakers on the other side of the Committee have been much too apt to get bogged down in accusations of breaches of faith and of what ought to have been 1972 the sequel to the last Speaker's Conference. What happened or what did not happen at that conference has very little to do with my case tonight in favour of the retention of university representation in this House. I think that the Government are wrong, so much so that I intend to go into the Lobby against them in favour of the Amendment.
As I have hinted, there has been much too much irrelevant talk and irrelevant writing about this question of university representation. The real issue was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) in his opening remarks. Has university representation achieved the objects for which it was designed, and if not, can it be made to function so that the ends which it is meant to serve can really be realised? On the whole, I think that university representation has been a success. There was some evidence, in the speeches of various hon. Members on the other side of the House during the Second Reading Debate, completely to disprove this contention, but to get involved in personalities and to judge the matter by the impressions formed of university Members in this House, even if in some cases they have seemed to be little different from party "stooges," is completely to confuse the issue. Several of them are, in my judgment, quite indistinguishable from ordinary Tory back benchers.
I am all in favour of variety and I am against drab uniformity in the membership of this House. Too much tidiness, too much symmetry and the application of too many rule-of-thumb methods in securing the election of Members can only have one result: It will lead to an increase of the robot type of M.P. who is completely subservient to the all-powerful party machine. It remains true that at the present time entrance to Parliament through university representation is about the only channel left which affords an opportunity of avoiding this undesirable development which I have mentioned.
As a people we in this country are inconsistent, and it is one of the good characteristics of our national life that we are inconsistent. Our soundest judgments are often arrived at as a result of the sway of sentiment rather than from the application of pure logic. I ask the Minister, when he replies, to bear this very much in mind, especially when he stresses, as no doubt he will, the impor- 1973 tance of the maxim, "One man, one vote; one vote, one value." On the whole, I think that university representation would, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain) said this afternoon, be more appropriately provided in a reformed Second Chamber, where the university Members would at least be spared the catcalls and backchat to which we are so constantly subjected. But until this idea can be put into operation I ask the Government seriously to continue to make it possible under this Bill for university representation in the House to be maintained in some form or another.
One recognises, of course, that this involves the extension of an anomaly. But this Representation of the People Bill allows far more flagrant anomalies to continue in our electoral system. First of all, let me mention that not every Member of this House under this Bill will represent the same number of constituents, be it in Scotland, England, or Wales. Moreover, both Scotland and Wales have more representation under this Bill than they are really entitled to, as compared with England. Take my own constituency. The body which drew up the new delineations of constituencies, the Boundary Commission, was instructed to have regard to local ties and to local loyalties. That request has been completely ignored in the case of Bedford, Elstow, the birthplace of Bunyan, on the very doorstep of the town, has been filched away from my division and shoved into another. That, I think, is a breach of the proper arrangements which should have been made under this Bill and is an anomaly. Incidentally, it is, of course, offending my constituents in Elstow, and will lead to a slight diminishing of the big majority which I shall get at the next Election.
The point is that this Bill perpetuates a great many of these anomalies. Why, then, should we boggle at this particular one of university representation? I am quite certain that those who are qualified to vote for a university member would very gladly forego the chance of voting for an ordinary constituency candidate. If the number of electors to each university Member is too disproportionate, then I suggest that the total number of university members could be cut down. A point which we would do well to bear in 1974 mind is that at present they represent less than 2 per cent. of the membership of this honourable House. On their side, I think that the university selection committees should be scrupulous in choosing as candidates men who are genuine independents, men who are non-party and can speak for higher education, historical knowledge, philosophy and the humanities. I believe the fact that this issue has been so fully debated in this House will lead to this desirable result, if the Government will have the common sense to leave things as they are. The enclave in the representation here of people who are not hamstrung and harried, as are the ordinary "back-benchers" representing normal constituencies, is a very good thing.
We all want time to stand and stare. We all want time for reading and for weighing and considering the great national issues which are facing our country at the present time. All conscientious Members of Parliament returned by ordinary constituencies are, in my judgment, hopelessly overdriven in these days of stress and strain. I wish that our constituents realised this. We are afflicted, everyone of us, by a quite bewildering multiplicity of cares and calls, and as a result we can rarely collect our thoughts and ideas in a way which is fully desirable. This, I suggest makes it more than ever necessary to maintain this small section of people here who are comparatively free from the burdens which afflict the bulk of us. I should regard the abolition of university representation as a sign of indifference on the part of the Government to these circumstances, and I think it will be thus interpreted throughout the country.
I dissent very strongly from the allegation made by the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) that the Government have been motivated by malice and class spite. Nothing of the sort is the case. I am quite certain that I should not be speaking in the sense I have been speaking tonight, if I believed that that kind of motive was behind these proposals. I think, however, that the motive is, at any rate, tactless from the point of view of political standing in the constituencies, and the Government's prestige in the country. I know that in my own constituency the line I took during the Second Reading Debate met 1975 with the widest approval among people of all sections of the community, and this has encouraged me to go on and even to say that I would vote against the Government tonight. The retention of university representation does not involve any departure of principle, as has been alleged. Rather is it based on the broad application of those very principles which have made this House unique throughout the world. I ask my right hon. Friend not to create conditions under which such principles can easily end and are at best likely to degenerate into mere narrow and restrictive rules.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
I welcome the sign of independence on the part of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge), in that he has announced that he is prepared to carry his convictions into the Division Lobby. I agree with him that it is not fair to say that the Government, in proposing to abolish university representation, are influenced in any way by any ill-feeling or malice towards the universities. The whole of their policy towards the universities, since they took office, has shown that there is no justification for that. I also agree with him that it would be a reasonable compromise, between the two views expressed during this Debate, if the Government could see their way to reduce the number of university representatives.
The Debate has centred around two lines of argument. There has been, on the one hand, the question whether the Government, in proposing to abolish university representation, are guilty of bad faith and whether this House has been committed, and, on the other hand, the rights and wrongs of university representation. In regard to the first argument, after listening to both sides today and on Second Reading, I confess myself in agreement with the Government. I do not believe that the Government, in deciding to abolish university representation, are guilty of a breach of faith, or that this Parliament was necessarily committed by what was decided at the Speaker's Conference during the previous Parliament. I disagree profoundly with them, however, on the question of the merits or demerits of university representation. The Lord President of the Council said that there might just as well 1976 be a case for other learned societies and bodies being represented in Parliament, as well as the universities. That line of argument would be perfectly sound, if we were proposing in this Bill to give the universities representation for the first time; but we are dealing today with a feature of our constitution which has existed for over 30o years. The question now is whether we ought to continue in this Bill the practice which has obtained for so long a period.
Nor do I think that he was fair in assuming that it was class consciousness that made those in favour of the maintenance of university representation bring forward the argument that today the universities are happily much more representative of all classes of the community than they were, and, in particular, a large proportion of the undergraduates and graduates have been drawn from the elementary schools. I should be the last person in the world to encourage anything in the nature of class consciousness, whether class consciousness on the other side of the House or class consciousness on this side. The real strength of the argument lies in this: That today a university representative would be able to speak for a much wider section of the community than ever before in its history, and it is from that point of view that particular argument was used.
In deciding, therefore, whether we ought to abolish university representation after over 300 years, I think it is only fair to ask what is to be gained from the point of view of this House by so doing and what are the arguments in favour of it. It has been said that while a very fair proportion of the university representatives have been men and one woman of distinction and also of independence in politics, they have not all been so. I welcome the enthusiasm which has been shown for having in this House a certain number of men and women who do not belong to any of the three parties. I think that when we talk about independence we should have in mind not necessarily whether that independence goes to the extent of being shown in the Division Lobby, because there may be good reasons why that does not always take place, but whether it is shown in the contributions to our Debates and the general work which this House has to carry out.
1977 I am quite prepared to agree that university representation over a long period has not fulfilled all the hopes and expectations which it might have done, and that there have not been as many really distinguished Members from the universities as we would like to have had, and not enough men and women of independent views, but that is not an argument necessarily for abolishing university representation. Supposing we were to apply that argument to Governments, how many supporters, for instance, of the present Government could lay their hands on their hearts and say with absolute sincerity that this Government has realised all the hopes and expectations which stirred in their breasts in 1945? How many Members of the Front Bench would be prepared to admit that the Government had been able to do anything of that kind? The supporters of the Government would say, and I agree with them, that is no reason for getting rid of the Government. Hope lives eternal in the human breast, and there is always a reasonable expectation in their minds that the Government may do better. Now, so far as university representation functions, it does provide what I consider to be the best channel of all existing ones for bringing to this House men and women of distinction, and men and women not associated with any particular party. I think that it would be a mistake, therefore, to close this particular channel at this time.
It is also true that at the present moment a large number of university representatives in this House are members of the Conservative Party. I would ask the Home Secretary if he will be quite frank with the House in his reply and answer these two questions. First, is it because the large number of university representatives are members of the Conservative Party that the Government decided to abolish university representation in this House? Secondly, suppose the position had been the reverse, and the larger number of them had been supporters of the Government, would the Government then have been prepared to allow university representation to continue? I think that it is a very dangerous line of argument to say that because particular representatives of any constituency are of a political colour different from the Government in power that, therefore, there is an argument for getting rid of that particular type of representation.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Then does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the Secretary of State for Scotland or not?
§ Mr. Lipson
I accept the answer given by the Home Secretary, and I am glad to know that, at any rate, the Government have not been in any way influenced by the fact that the majority of university Members today are not political supporters of the party which is now in office, and they have decided to pursue the course that they are doing on what they consider to be the arguments for and merits of the particular policy which they have adopted. It is sometimes argued that the universities do not need special representation any more in these days because there are in all quarters of the House hon. Members who have themselves been educated at the universities, and have, in many instances, been associated with them in lecturing and teaching capacities. I do not think that argument meets the case of university representation.
The universities stand for something that is of vital importance in the national life. They stand, as we have been reminded, for the humanities, for learning, for the arts and for the sciences, and it is a great advantage to the university authorities when any matters in which they are concerned ought to be raised in this House to have definite university representatives to whom they can turn. We all know the saying that what is everybody's business is nobody's, and I do not think that it is quite the same thing, particularly in view of what the hon. Member for Bedford said about the many calls made on the territorial Member of this House from his own constituency, for the universities to expect that in addition he will be able to take their particular problems on his shoulders.
The argument is used that university representation must be abolished because it conflicts with the principle of the Bill—one man, one vote. I approve of that 1979 principle, and I am quite prepared to stand by it. That being the case, I ask the Home Secretary what is the objection to agreeing now that a university elector should be given the choice either of voting in his own residential constituency or voting for a university candidate? One advantage of that would be that those who elected to vote in university elections would be those who are specially interested in university problems. Therefore it would give added point and value to university representation.
If it is argued that the result of that may be that the electors at universities would be very small there are two answers. I do not see why we should be so very insistent on the principle of one vote, one value so far as university representation is concerned. It is quite obvious that even in this Bill that principle is not fully and absolutely embodied. There is a difference in the value of a vote in one part of the country compared with another. That is seen in practice from the constitution of the House in the total of votes cast for one party as against another. My hon. Friends the Liberals have a particular grievance in this matter for which they have their own remedy, but the House on Second Reading refused to accept it. It is hardly fair to insist upon the principle, therefore, so far as university representation is concerned, but any anomaly created could be met by reducing the number of university representatives. Therefore, I hope that the Government are not going to close their mind to this Amendment but that they will show a generous spirit. For myself I must confess I am convinced that if we decide to abolish university representation this House will be poorer and not richer; it will not be more representative of the people but be less; and so that that should not happen I most earnestly beg of the Government to give the matter further consideration.
§ Mr. Stamford (Leeds, West)
I confess I find it a little difficult to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) in defence of independent representation in this House. One might agree that independent representation has its merits, but it does not seem to me necessarily to follow from that that one is committed to the view 1980 that the best way to secure that independent representation is by retaining the university seats. I am not in the least surprised that the Opposition should have selected the ground of university representation as one of the main points of their opposition to the Government's proposals in this Bill. Indeed, I should have been very much surprised if that had not been the case, because this is a proposal to remove a vested privilege in political representation. Anyone who has followed the political history of this country will know perfectly well that every proposal to limit political privilege has been met by the resistance of the Conservative Party. On every occasion that a proposal of that sort has been made, we have witnessed exactly the same spectacle as we have witnessed during the course of this Debate.
The hon. Member for Cheltenham seemed to question the motives which the Government have in submitting this proposal to the Committee. The Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) early in the Debate accused the Government of entertaining motives that were not of a very highly respectable order. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) on the Second Reading of the Bill said—I do not quote his words exactly, but I quote the sense of them—that university representation was being swept away for the sake of some fleeting political advantage to the Labour Party.
It seems to me quite useless to try to-dismiss this proposal as a rather shabby party manoeuvre. It is nothing of the sort. To accuse the Government of that, seems to ignore completely the facts upon which this proposal must ultimately rest. I have no doubt if I were to accuse hon. Gentlemen opposite of acting in this manner under political influences and for political reasons they would resent the imputation. I have sat here and found it rather difficult to resist the conclusion that political considerations are by no means absent from the minds of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee. Indeed why should it be otherwise. University representation has, up to now, been a political asset to the Conservative Party, and why should they not fight to retain what for so long has been a political asset from their point of view? I am not at all surprised at the 1981 attitude they have taken. It is the attitude we have been taught to expect from the Conservative Party, and the Conservatives tonight are running entirely true to traditional form.
What is the case for the retention of this privilege for the universities? I submit it is not enough to say that the universities send a number of brilliant men to the House of Commons. I agree that it is correct that a number of brilliant people have come from the universities, but a number of equally brilliant people have come from the territorial constituencies. Some of the most brilliant figures in British politics have been here, not as university representatives but as ordinary territorial representative of constituencies. In a speech on the Second Reading of the Bill the hon. and learned Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) posed a question. He asked was not this House, as a result of university representation, a better microcosm of the nation than it would be without it? I am bound to say that the hon. and learned Gentleman left the House in no sort of doubt as to what his own answer would be. My answer would be entirely different. It would be that the absence of the university representatives, agreeing, as I am prepared to agree, with all that has been said in their favour, would not diminish in any degree whatever the representative character of this House of Commons. It would remain as it is today with the university Members present.
To suggest that the House of Commons will suffer in its representative capacity and, in the rather surprising words used by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) this afternoon, that therefore we ought to preserve special representation to the better educated sections of the community, seems to be little more than an expression of sheer intellectual snobbery. The proposal to retain university representation is quite obviously against the spirit of our British political system. We are here not, I hope, as representatives of any special interest but as representatives of citizens in geographical areas, and I submit that there is no other sound basis on which representation in the British House of Commons can properly rest. I am in favour of the abolition of university representation. While I agree that many 1982 things can be said in praise of the representatives the universities have sent to the House of Commons, I accept the Government's proposal without any qualms.
On the Second Reading the junior Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) went a little further than the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities. He said that the only question we had to consider was whether the House was better off with university Members than without them. I submit that that is utterly and wholly irrelevant to the issue which the Committee is now discussing. Even if the university Members possessed all the merits that are claimed for them and even if they possessed all the merits which they often appear to claim for themselves, that in itself would not constitute a title to representation in the British House of Commons.
The real question is not whether we are better off with the university representatives than we would be without them. It is not whether in any respect the university Members are superior to the rest of us. The simple question is whether this type of representation can have a place in any electoral system which is based on democratic principles. Obviously it cannot. A significant feature of this Debate, to the greater part of which I have listened, has been that not one hon. Member defending university representation has sought to do it on the principle of democratic representation, which is, after all, the most important principle of all. Quite obviously it is impossible to defend the proposal to retain university representation on any ground of democratic principle.
For that reason I am very glad that the Government make the proposal, which will undoubtedly be supported by an overwhelming majority of hon. Members, that this electoral anomaly shall be removed from the Statute Book. I do not on this occasion appeal to the Home Secretary to stand fast by his decision, as was done on the Second Reading of the Bill, because I know that he will do so; and I know that in standing fast by his decision to move a step further forward in the direction of a real political democracy, and a really representative electoral system in this country, he will have the 1983 overwhelming support of the Members on this side of the Committee.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
It ill becomes me as an Independent Member, to defend the Conservative Party against the strictures levelled against it by the hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. Stamford); I doubt, indeed, whether it could be defended, but if the endeavour is to be made, I am sure it will be made very effectively by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler).
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
There is no need to defend the Conservative Party: the defence must come from the benches opposite.
§ Mr. Harris
I will leave that to the right hon. Member to develop further a little later, if he thinks fit. Rising at this late hour of the evening, I do so under no illusions. I realise that hon. Members opposite are obdurate in their perversity, and it only remains to demonstrate that if the weight of voting is on that side, we have the weight of reason on ours. It do not want to pursue the vexed question of the electoral bargain, everything that can be said about has been said; all that I will say for myself is that, having read the Report of the Speaker's Conference, having heard everything that has been said about it, I got the impression that there was a gentlemen's agreement and I like to see a gentlemen's agreement kept. However, I know that opinion is not held largely by hon. Members opposite, and it is no use pursuing it further because we can reach no finality.
I listened with great interest and with sincere admiration to the speech of the Lord President of the Council, particularly in those passages where he became autobiographical. There are only two comments I want to make on his speech. Let me deal first with his reference to the electoral bargain. He dealt with great adroitness with one quotation made from this side of the Committee from the Prime Minister. I understand that the Prime Minister referred to a Bill on the redistribution of seats as coming down from the Speaker's Conference. The Lord President of the Council, in referring to that, said it was a Bill on the redistribution of seats and that it "did have to do" with the Speaker's Conference. 1984 That seems to me a very different thing from coming down "from" the Speaker's Conference. When I hear of a Measure coming down from the other place or from the Speaker's Conference, I assume it is coming down in a particular form, with the intention of being passed by this House in that particular form. I do not labour that point, but I think there the Lord President was bringing forward an argument which will not hold water.
The only other argument in his speech to which I want to refer, and on which the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) has touched already, is when he suggested that we were adducing in support of university representation the argument that a large number of boys from the elementary schools are now entering universities. The only use, and I think legitimate use, made of that argument was to counter the suggestion which some years ago would have had great validity, that universities were the homes of aristocratic privilege. That may have been true at one time, but we have simply pointed out that today it is not true, because the vast majority of boys at universities are going up with public help and a large proportion have come from elementary schools. I do not desire to put it higher than that, and I think that really meets the case of the Lord President.
I shall speak briefly because, although I have no doubt that the House was deeply impressed by my observations on Second Reading, hon. Members will not now wish me to repeat those observations verbatim this evening. Therefore, out of this vast panoply of arguments available I will choose one or two which I have not mentioned before. I take my stand on the single contention that university representation in this House is a good thing for the universities, and a good thing for this House. In doing so, I will say one thing which I said on Second Reading. In considering this contention I am quite sure that present university Members should be eliminated from the discussion altogether. We may be an asset or we may be a liability to our cause, but this question of principle is not to be argued on those personal lines. We must consider the matter in the light of history.
All I claim—and I do not lay undue stress on the argument—is that we would find that the older universities—I mention 1985 them because they alone go back three hundred years—have sent to this House more men of great distinction than any other single constituency. I think that by the nature of things that should be so. I do not lay undue stress on that argument. I think it a good thing that there should be this alliance between legislation and learning, not, of course, learning represented by the university representatives, but by the great seats of learning which sent them here. Universities are very important training grounds for politicians. Perhaps not the most important—trade unions may be greater—and they have never sent more Members of the party opposite to this House than they send today. That is to the good of all concerned. They train politicians and increase the interest of the average undergraduate in politics generally, and in the politics of the moment. I hope on the other side that if university Members do their duty they are able to achieve something here by increasing interest in the development of the higher learning. The hon. Member for West Leeds referred to vested privilege. I do not look on this as a question of privilege at all.
§ Mr. Stamford
Does the hon. Member regard it not as privilege, but as a right that the universities should have representation in this House?
§ Mr. Harris
I was interrupted in a sentence which was along the lines suggested by the hon. Member. I hope hon. Members representing universities will never use this House to press the interests of their universities. They represent the desires, aims and aspirations of their universities, but they endeavour to speak in the name of higher education generally. I make this claim, which is backed by the letters I have received since this matter was discussed; the average university voter pays more attention to the use of his vote than does the territorial voter. It is not a privilege which does his university any special good, but he considers it very seriously and uses his vote with great responsibility. It is not a privilege, nor right, but a responsibility, which I think is well used.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Heywood and Radcliffe)
Could the hon. Member give figures of the university graduates who have exercised their prerogative?
§ Mr. Harris
The figures were given this afternoon. I do not know whether the hon. Member was present.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
Those figures did not bear out the argument the hon. Gentleman is deploying.
§ Mr. Harris
It is true at any rate of those who do use their vote, to judge by those with whom I have been in contact. We ought not to discuss this matter in the light of present personalities, but in the light of the history of university representation. It is perfectly true that every Parliament is not only entitled to take its own decision, but is under a certain responsibility to take its own decision. Nevertheless, this Parliament might consider for a moment whether it is necessarily right, in the course it is taking, since every Parliament which has dealt with university representation has taken another course.
I am not going to deal with the original decision of James I, which was largely the exercise of the Royal Prerogative rather than the decision of an elected House, but comparatively lately, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, we find in the last 150 years the whole tendency of this House in connection with the university vote has been in the direction of expanding university representation. In 1800 a vote was given to Dublin University, Ireland then being an integral part of the United Kingdom. In the Reform Bill of 1832 a second vote was given to Dublin. On the Representation of the People Act of 1867 a Member was given to London University and in the following year two Members to the Scottish Universities. In 1918, when the whole question of representation was under discussion, the English Universities were brought in and two Members given to them, one Member also was given to Queen's University, Belfast, and one to the University of Wales. Finally, in 1928, when there was a general extension of the franchise, a wider university franchise was enacted. The whole history, as I say, has been an extension of the university franchise.
§ Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)
Would the hon. Member also deal with the 1931 Parliament which decided to abolish the university vote?
§ Mr. Harris
It did not. I have yet to learn that a vote was taken to abolish university representation. I conclude therefore with the appeal: What many Parliaments in their wisdom have joined, let not this Parliament, in summary and gratuitous folly, put asunder.
§ Mr. Parker (Dagenham)
I would like strongly to support the Government. As a graduate of Oxford University, and a resident in the City of London, I can support both of the Government proposals. It is extraordinary the way in which we hear so many speakers in this House take the line that, because a person happens to have a certain number of degrees or letters behind his name, which may show him to be very learned in the subjects of history or science, he necessarily happens also to be expert in politics. Nothing of the kind. A person may be an excellent technician in some particular field, or have a great knowledge of some form of learning, but that does not make him an expert in politics. On the other hand, the ordinary person, who may go to the village pub every night, may, by discussing everyday matters with his fellows become very learned about matters regarding the Government of the nation. Therefore, I think the whole case for giving separate votes to people who have degrees' and giving them separate representation in the House, is based entirely on the error that people are politically wise because they happen to be professors of French or Greek or something of that kind. There seems to me to be no case at all for giving separate votes to university graduates.
I was delighted to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge), but it did seem to me that the most charming thing in his speech was the argument put forward that there were so many anomalies in the franchise in our system as a whole that another one would not matter. That does not seem to me to be a very strong argument in favour of keeping the university seats. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson-Harris) gave the history of university seats, but I would say to him and the 1988 right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) that they seemed to have overlooked the whole history of the opposition of the Left in this country against university representation. History, for 100 years past, has been full of great campaigns in favour of "One man, one vote," and the abolition of this special privilege. The Liberal Party, for many years carried on a big campaign for the abolition of the university seats, and the Leader of the Opposition himself voted frequently for Bills for the abolition of the university franchise.
I discovered a very charming speech by Lord Samuel, when he was Sir Herbert Samuel in this House at the time of the 1918 Act, in which he strongly opposed the extension of the number of seats for universities, and particularly disliked the giving of a seat to the University of Wales, the only university which has now a representative of the Liberal Party in this House. He took the line that it was merely creating a pocket borough and he saw no reason for that. As for the suggestion that we should allow university graduates to vote either for university or for territorial seats, I am certain that if such a system is introduced, the great majority of the graduates would vote where they lived. There would be an even tinier vote for universities than we now have.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
I did not want to enter into this Debate, but I happen to have in my pocket a large number of letters with signatures from five of the eight universities which have not been spoken about tonight and which say the complete opposite. They take the opposite view. When the hon. Member makes a remark like that, I must ask him what ground he has for making it.
§ Mr. Parker
Take the example of the University of London. There are over 72,000 graduates. Only about 20,000 of them have taken the trouble to "contract in" to try to get the vote. That is on the assumption that they can use the two votes.
§ Mr. Parker
It is a fact that they have to pay a sum of money for the purpose, but it was only in about 1930 that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge 1989 changed over from the system of "contracting in" to "contracting out," which is the present system there. Even then, we are a very long way from having all the graduates actually registered for votes in those universities.
I take the view, and there is evidence in support of it, that if we were to give graduates the opportunity of voting either for the university seats or for their residential seats, most of them would prefer to vote where they lived rather than in the university, which is a much more artificial organisation for representation. If we were to try to give any kind of equality to votes, even on the present number of people voting, we would be able to give only about two seats to the universities as a whole. I am certain that there would be a much smaller registration for votes for university seats if the graduates had to choose where they wished to vote. There might not be enough electors to return even one Member. It is absurd to make any such suggestion.
I conclude by saying that the case for university Members has not been proved. The suggested possible compromise of people being able to vote either for university or residential seats would not work, because I do not think there would be a sufficient number of people registered to make it worth while, even grouping all the university graduates together in one seat. I hope that the Government will stick by their proposal, "One man, one vote," and abolish university seats.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I was rather loath to join in this Debate, because it is a little embarrassing, but I think that one Member at any rate, representing the eight Combined English Universities ought to be heard. We have heard the representatives of Oxford, Cambridge, Scotland and London, and here I would like to say how sorry I feel that the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Prof. Gruffydd), who is in a nursing home, is not here to speak in his own Welsh eloquence on behalf of Welshmen.
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
Is the hon. Gentleman sure that the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Prof. Gruffydd) would support his point of view?
§ Mr. Lindsay
If a man is ill, I am entitled to say that we are sorry he is not here. The fact of the matter is that this whole thing has been sprung on the university Members. That is why I put the point to the Lord President this afternoon. I do not believe that this decision was firmly in the minds of the Government when the Lord Chancellor spoke in the House of Lords and when the Prime Minister spoke here. I have already said that I know the Home Secretary's point of view. He has been consistently in favour of abolishing the university seats. Many hon. Members on the other side have equally taken this line. I do not think there is any case in logic or arithmetic or in the special distinction of university Members, and I think anybody who tries to make out this case will probably come a cropper before he is finished. It is quite absurd to pretend that the university franchise at this moment can be defended on any of these grounds.
What I object to is this. I was elected as an Independent. I happen to think that there is a case for the Independent university Member—[interruption.] I will tell my hon. Friend exactly why. I fought three seats in the old days, and the first time I had £5 in the bank. My fare to Oxford was 11s., there was £4 9s. in the kitty, and the rest was collected on the streets or with a little support from the few interested persons. It is absolutely impossible for a poor man to enter this House today as an Independent. Either he has to have very strong local connections with an area where he has lived all his life, or, as in the case of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), he has to have behind him a powerful trade union, by which, as the hon. Member has told the House, he is paid. I am a little tired of hearing the case of my old colleague Eleanor Rathbone being quoted. It has been quoted by people who opposed her tooth and nail, and it has been quoted by both sides of the Committee, but I cannot help remembering some of the things said about her when she was alive and it makes me think. We have to remember that, when she was writing "The Disinherited Family" 25 years ago, she had to fight it out through the trade union world, the Labour Party world and against every conceivable opposition.
1991 It is a pretty difficult time nowadays for an Independent within a party. It is pretty difficult for an Independent in the Conservative Party, but I still think that there is a case for having in this House voices which can speak without being tied completely to any party. We are asked to say what is the case for the university seat. I do not know that there is any case in logic or arithmetic, but I think there is a case. I have these figures: Leeds, 1,694 for and 240 against; Liverpool, 1,638 for and 170 against. We only knew three or four weeks ago that this was coming, and those are the first views of my constituents. I do not know what other university Members do, but I have meetings in all of the eight universities, and, as they are in different places of the country, it is like fighting another election. There are meetings of Birmingham graduates in London, and meetings of Manchester graduates at Preston and Durham graduates in London.
What I object to is having the thing sprung upon us. What is the point of springing it on us in this way, so that these graduates have no chance at all to express their views? I must express the views of my constituents, who have shown their wholehearted and overwhelming opposition. I feel that the Government ought to allow this special con-constituency to have the option of giving their vote, if they wish to give it, and that they should not be disfranchised without further consideration and without putting it fairly and squarely before the people concerned.
If it were put fairly and squarely before the people at the next election, or at another Speaker's Conference, I personally, would abide by the result, and would have no objection whatever. But it seems to me to be a very arbitrary action. The argument which I find so dangerous is that any one party can thus change the Constitution. That argument was so well put by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) that I dare not repeat it. It is for this and other reasons that some of us are so worried over this Bill. We still cannot understand why we have not heard the real reasons for this sudden action, except the one that the Labour Party—and I can see their point 1992 of view—are overwhelmingly against plural voting.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
This is an old controversy, and many of us remember taking part in it before. We think ofold unhappy far-off things, and battles long ago.We only wish that this battle might end in the same way as the battle in 1931 ended, with the defeat of those who proposed the abolition of university representation. Unfortunately, we have before us the picture which we shall see in short time of the droves of supporters on the Government side being driven through the Lobbies to support this odious and detestable "reform," except the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) and others who may follow his excellent example.
Like many who have taken part in this controversy, I have read my past speeches, and unlike many others, including the Lord President, I have read them with relish. In fact, when I read the speech which I made in the controversy of 1931, I was astonished that I had so much wisdom at that time, and wondered whether I had progressed at all since. No doubt that doubt is shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House. We have, at least, the satisfaction that my Friend the Home Secretary and I have been consistent in this matter because I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has always objected to university representation. Though he has erred from time to time from the path, we do not desire on this occasion to take quite the same firm attitude towards him as we desire to take towards some of his colleagues.
We are dealing, on this occasion, with a matter which involves the traditions of the House. Those traditions go back something like 345 years. Therefore, it is no mild or light question that we are considering this evening. However ardent and honourable the hon. Member opposite may be in desiring, for the sake of some mathematical principle, to sweep away university representation, I would remind him that his ancestors found it useful, and that it is not a good thing, under the British Constitution, to remove what has done good and to substitute what may do bad. In fact, to brush aside the traditions of over 300 years is 1993 not a matter to be regarded in a lighthearted way.
Therefore, we attach great importance to this discussion this evening, and we certainly do not approach it with any feeling that the great Labour movement is in any way suffering from an inhibition, or is incapable of taking part in this Debate on the highest intellectual standards, or with any other such motive whatever. In fact, I would say at once to the Lord President that, if I could debate as well as he can, I should be extremely glad, because, whatever one may think of his views, he made a debating speech today. That is what we like to see in this Parliament, and what you, Mr. Speaker, and your predecessors have always liked to see, namely, the "cut and thrust of Debate." The right hon. Gentleman even went so far as to say that if there were such representation for the old scholars of his school, he would like to be represented.
The only sign of offence in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks was that he would persist, as did the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), and also my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), in referring to the "elementary" schools. Elementary schools are things of the past, and, ever since the Education Act, there are no schools to which reference as such, should be made in this House. I am quite frankly surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, desirous as he is to be so correct in his nomenclature and his approach, should have used any such expression. I understand that the Home Secretary is to spend most of his speech defending the Secretary of State for Scotland With the few odd moments he has to spare, I hope he will defend the Lord President of the Council and will reprove him for his language.
I am surprised at the Lord President of the Council, because when I served with him in the Government, I found he was a particular defender of tradition. I found, in fact, that he was the one man who wanted me to preserve the title of President of the Board of Education, and he was very shocked when his right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood) proposed that I should call myself the Minister of Education. On many other occasion's he has attempted 1994 to defend tradition in this House and I am, indeed, horrified today to see him taking part as the spearhead of the opposition to university representation and so far forgetting tradition as to make one wonder, as I shall attempt to show in the concluding portion of my remarks, whether political expediency is not his first, foremost and last guide in all important matters.
I believe that hon. Members and right hon. Members opposite are putting forward this so-called improvement in our methods of representation under the pretext of the slogan of one man, one vote—an egalitarian, or equalitarian, whichever you prefer, mathematical principle which I do not believe conforms with the spirit of our Constitution. It has always been the aim of the House of Commons to be representative of the country, and looking back on the Debates that have taken place on this subject in the past, one of the most remarkable speeches on the subject ever made was that by Lord Hugh Cecil, now Lord Quickswood, in the Debate in 1931, which led to the defeat of the Government of that day. He used this expression: "The House of Commons should, by its representation and its composition, reflect the sense of the commons of the Realm."
The first test I wish to apply to university representation is whether we as a House, or as a Committee—which we are now—are more representative of the commons of the Realm with university representation or without it. I claim, in answer to that first proposition, that we are far more representative of the commons of the Realm, as a whole, with university representatives among us than we are without them. I am particularly devoting most, at any rate of the first part of my remarks, to this positive value, as I see it, of university representation, which is the issue before us. I believe university Members represent a type, which would otherwise be less adequately represented in our Chamber and in our Debates.
That form of representation has sometimes been attacked because it is regarded as functional, and many people have a great fear of functional representation. They associate it with efforts made in the corporate State in Italy and regard it as utterly objectionable, and if I may say so, having always been firmly based on democratic principles, I agree with them. 1995 I do not defend university representation as a functional form of representation. In fact, I would repudiate those arguments which have been used this afternoon and which refer to university representation as representing this interest or that. I regard this form of representation as a supplement to the territorial form of representation in which many great interests in this country automatically find their voice in this House. Agricultural interests, the miners' interests, business interests and so forth, find their representation quite clearly in this House in a way to which Burke referred in immortal terms.
We have, in fact, managed by the territorial method, to get into this House interests which it is important should be represented here, but I do not think that we entirely manage to represent every section of the community through the territorial method alone. The Lord President in his debating speech this afternoon, in which he attempted to conceal the weakness of his case, said that lawyers, scientists and medical men were not represented as such in the House of Commons. I claim that it is precisely that type of man, representative of the professional classes, who should have representation and self-expression through being able to vote in a university constituency. I maintain that it is that type of interest which it is most important to have represented in our midst today. Reference was made to Miss Rathbone. I would only say that her most remarkable speech, and one of her last in the House of Commons, was on this very subject. In 1945, in the Debates of that day, she claimed for university representation precisely what I am claiming now—that it is through this means that the professional classes are most adequately represented. I was very glad to hear the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) taking the same line earlier tonight.
We regard the Government's action in attempting to abolish university representation as a direct blow at the professional classes. This is not the first occasion that the Government have attempted to hit the professional classes. The Lord President in his speech said, "We must not be class conscious." If anybody is class conscious, what about the Lord President himself? I have 1996 never known any public man angle in a more naked manner for the support of what he calls the middle classes than he did himself in a recent issue of "Picture Post." In this estimable document, of which I here have a copy, the right hon. Gentleman, with the aid of the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman), has gone through one of those odious interlocutions which have been prepared beforehand, but which, with the aid of the cameraman, look so spontaneous; and he has gone out of his way to capture the middle classes. The right hon. Gentleman has deliberately, by a series of statements, gone out to try to capture this vote.
What I noticed, however, in this article—with which I shall not trouble the Committee at this hour—is that the right hon. Gentleman refers to the middle classes as useful people, as distinct from the capitalist, industrialist classes. If that is not class distinction, I should like to ask the Committee what is. The right hon. Gentleman is probably more class conscious, and probably more conscious of the deficiencies of his own party in appealing to the nation as a whole, than any of my hon. or right hon. Friends on this side of the Committee. I would if it were in Order detail some of the instances in which, whether through the Minister of Health, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Minister of Fuel and Power, most terrible blows have been aimed at the middle classes in this country by the party opposite—to be topped in this instance, by the fact that in this article the right hon. Gentleman does not condescend to refer to the universities, or to education at all.
I want to come to some other aspects of the importance of the university vote. It is important, as was indicated by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), to remember that it is through the university vote that we are able in this Committee and in the House to represent the overseas voters. That is, I think, the most important aspect of the university representation, because otherwise many of those overseas persons would, in fact, be disfranchised. When the Government have pursued their fell design, I am afraid we may lose many of those who bring an overseas experience to the act of casting a vote, as they will be, in this way, disfranchised.
1997 It is also most important to retain the university vote in order to keep persons of independent mind in this House. I realise that in saying this I must expect a natural reaction from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I realise that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) dismissed Independents in the House of Commons as being quite unimportant, and he took from Mr. Oliver's work some small extract to attempt to prove his case.
I would like modestly to put my own impression of the House of Commons as we see it now. We see a House of Commons in which private Members' time has been taken away, a House of Commons from which it is proposed that the university Members shall be extracted. I am convinced that by this double act of killing private Members' time and removing Parliamentary representation from the universities we shall be placed completely in the hands of a bureaucratic Government. We are not to be able to raise many of those issues of importance to the individual which have been raised by university Members in the past. Our time in Parliament is to be very much less well spent than before.
The right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland went on to dismiss a large part of the university electorate as being ancient voters. This issue was taken up by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University, and he showed in his speech some of the great weakness of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. It seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman was going back into his own training and background when he referred to the ancient incumbents who formed part of the university voting machine. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman realises that a great proportion of the university voters today are, in fact, young people. Does he realise that not only has the university electorate never been composed of more young people with degrees, but is now also more democratically constituted than ever before?
Recent aids given by way of scholarship, by schemes supporting open scholarships and exhibitions, have resulted in no fewer than 6,000 students going annually to 1998 the universities with the aid of public funds. If we add to these, the number of people who receive grants for teacher training, and the fact that some 53,800 persons have received one grant or another under the further education and training scheme, the Committee will realise what an immense change has been made in the constitution of the universities, and ultimately of the university electorate. Yet it is at this time that the Government choose to abolish university representation. The more democratic is the university electorate, the less the Government think it right to give them the power of using the vote.
I have been asked on many occasions whether I consider this will be a blow to higher education. I say emphatically that, in my view, it will be such a blow. I am supported by the words of the Master of Trinity, Professor G. M. Trevelyan. In a recent edition of "The Times" he said:To abolish the university Members will be taken as a sign of indifference to higher education. It is possible"—he goes on,to sacrifice too much to the desire for absolute uniformity everywhere and in everything.The Lord President of the Council asked what were the motives of King James I in instituting the university franchise. I would reply to him in the words of Blackstone, of the Commentaries. When he was referring to the university burgesses, he said:To serve for those students who, though useful members of the community, were neither concerned in the landed nor the trading interest, and to protect in the Legislature the rights of the republic of letters.I believe that to be one of the objects of the university Members. It is extremely sad that the Labour movement, after all these years, should have chosen deliberately to affront that republic of letters.
Coming now to more controversial matters, I am asked why the Government have decided to abolish university representation. Summing up what I have already said, it appears to me, in the first place, that Parliament will not be more, but rather less, representative than it was before, so that cannot be their reason. The second point which I have discussed 1999 —the formula of "one man, one vote," without ensuring "one vote, one value"—will not be achieved in this new Representation of the People Bill. For example, under the Bill a Welsh vote is 14 per cent. more valuable and a Scottish vote 19 per cent. more valuable than an English vote—a singularly backhanded method of trying to give satisfaction to those two countries. But if we examine it, we find that in no way, by a mathematical formula, can the "one man, one vote," principle be achieved under the distribution proposals of this Bill. Indeed, the first report of the Boundary Commission was more mathematical than the one we are now considering. A deliberate attempt has been made in this second report, not so much to stick to mathematical formulae, but, in the words of "The Times" of today,to keep the constituencies with distinctive traditions in being.Yet, despite that, the Government have decided to destroy some of the constituencies—namely, the university constituencies—which are the most distinctive of all.
Let us take another criterion. If the Government were to keep the 12 university Members, would the House be too big? I would only say that this House as proposed will be the smallest since 1801. From 1801 to 1885 there were 658 Members; from 1885 to 1898 there were 670 Members; and from 1922 onwards approximately 615 Members. I do claim that with the general total now proposed it would not be at all impossible, in relation to those figures of the past, to add 12 more university Members and to give the universities the representation they deserve.
If we look at all these reasons it seems to me that for none of them have the Government made up their minds. What is more, every statement and every indication up to approximately the end of January of this year, as the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) pointed out, led to the belief that the whole findings of the Speaker's Conference would be implemented. I repeat, every statement and every indication: the Lord Chancellor's indication in another place the Prime Minister's indication in this House; the report of the Conference itself, to which 2000 my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds alluded, when it referred to the introduction of a Bill to implement the whole findings; and the Home Secretary's own statement about the recommendations having to be carried out, which was quoted by my right hon. Friend.
When the Home Secretary was quoted as speaking on the Elections and Jurors Act he interjected that he was referring to the report of a committee, the recommendations of which ought to be carried out. I ask him—and I reinforce the point put by the senior Burgess for Cain-bridge University—is it not a very strange constitutional doctrine that before appointing such a committee, he should undertake, as the Home Secretary said he did in his introduction, to implement their findings before knowing what their findings were? There is no doubt in our minds that when he was referring to the recommendations, as the context shows, on 21st November, 1945, the Home Secretary was referring to the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference.
That leads me to my general decision, which is that the real reason for the Government deciding to abolish the university seats is purely and entirely political. That has been made perfectly obvious by the honest blurtings of the Secretary of State for Scotland, to whose observations the Home Secretary is to devote the major part of his speech. It is also quite clear to me, from reading a special edition of the "Daily Worker," which seems to have put the truth in a very short manner. This article, which was written by a gentleman called Michael Shapiro, said:The medicine that the Labour movement is asked to swallow is complete acceptance of the Boundary Commission's proposals. These are very dangerous. Despite the advantages that Labour may gain from the abolition of double voting, the Boundary Commission's proposals can well by themselves, apart from wider political considerations, lose Labour its majority at the next Election.That is no doubt why the Government have decided that they cannot face the next election with university Members in this House whose seats, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman and according to their own tacit admissions, the Government are quite unable to gain in open contest.
2001 I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, as I am pressing this point, whether any further concessions are to be made by himself or by the Government in the course of this Bill in regard to the large cities, because, if that is the case, the whole story which I am now going to unfold in my concluding statements will be even more curious than we thought it before. I believe that there is something even more important than university seats at stake in these discussions, and that is the whole question whether constitutional changes shall be made by agreement or without agreement. I believe that the issues are far wider than university representation alone. The Lord President said in his debating speech this afternoon, and has reiterated in a parrot-like manner time after time, "I repudiate that any pledge was broken." I looked up the right hon. Gentleman's statement on 17th January, 1945, and I find that he said then:If, when the compromise is made, everyone is going to act as if there had been no Conference, it seems to me that the utility of the Speaker's Conference will not be so great."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1945; Vol. 407, C. 310.]Putting that in simple language, what does it mean? It means that if you do not stick to an agreement that has been made confidence is shattered between the two sides of the Committee.
I will not go into the question of whether there was a contract. I will give that to the party opposite absolutely; there was in fact no contract made. We are not dealing here with a legal form, and I am not trying to coerce the new Members who have come in representing constituencies in the interests of the Labour movement. It would be unreasonable to think that they should be absolutely bound. The prey that I am going for are the Ministers of the Government who were in this agreement and who are now wantonly breaking it. I say that our public life in this country will not prevail unless we have two public features—one is strong party Government, in which I strongly believe, and the other is respect for the rules of the game.
If we have strong parties and confidence, then I believe that we can carry forward our democratic system as we have carried it forward before, but I claim that the Ministers have in fact gone behind the agreement made when, as 2002 has been made quite obvious in the course of these Debates, the Speaker's Conference decided that there were two parts in this bargain, an interim part and a long-term part, and when it definitely envisaged that the long-term part would take time to carry out. I claim that the Government have been wrong in going back on the long-term part of the decision and only carrying out the short-term part which suited them.
The Lord President of the Council made great play with a quotation from the late Lord Baldwin when, in answer to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), that the nobler course would have been to have called another Speaker's Conference if they were in doubt and felt that this matter was not carried on to the new Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman quoted Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, as saying that party controversy was so great that the Speaker of the day would not desire to take the chair at the Conference. As is typical of the Lord President, he did not pursue the quotation further down the page. I have taken the trouble to read what Lord Baldwin said after that. The Committee will remember that the Debate at that time was on the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Bill giving the franchise to young women and making it universal, a subject on which there was not much controversy. He said this on 29th March, 1928:Had we taken up the question of redistribution and other such matters as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) specified, then, indeed, a conference would have had manifest advantages, and I should have desired to hold it."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1928; Vol. 215; C. 1471.]That was not quoted by the Lord President of the Council. That remains our views today. We still think an agreement is the proper way of proceeding to constitutional change, and it should be the normal preface to matters on which a constitutional change is desired.
Let us take this a little bit further. If agreement is impossible, which may well be the case, are there no other prerequisites for constitutional changes of this sort? My view is admirably summarised in an article in "The Economist" of 7th February which said: 2003Constitutional changes are only desirable when they are worked out by inter-party discussion and agreement; or, failing that,"—I am perfectly ready to agree that agreement might not be possible—when they are brought about, not by the caprices of political opportunism, but as the result of well-established and continuous popular demand.We on this side of the Committee claim that not only has there not been any attempt to reach an agreement, but there has not been any attempt to put this matter before the country and to seek a mandate from the electors for it. It was not mentioned in the Labour Party Conference "Let us Face the Future." There is no mandate, and the university Members have been in no way warned, as they repeatedly said this afternoon, that this change was likely to take place. We have come to the absolute ineluctable conclusion that this decision has been taken as the result of a caprice of political opportunism.
We, on this side of the Committee, stand for the ancient traditions of our representative system. We welcome in our midst men of independence and cultured views. We recognise the opportunity given by these seats to the professional classes, and we recognise the importance they assume in the eyes of higher education. We, therefore, register tonight the emphatic opinion, which I hope will serve as a guide to our actions, that before long when we are returned to power, university representation will remain an honoured feature of this House, and that our friends will not be thrust from it by the action of hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
This is the first time that I have had the honour of replying to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). For about four years he and I sat side by side, and I was always very pleased when he said, "Let me take this one." The skill he then showed has certainly not deserted him tonight, for he is the first person speaking from the Opposition Front Bench who has ventured to defend university representation as such. I hope in the course of my speech to deal with the various arguments that he has adduced in support of that principle.
2004 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), who opened this Debate, gave about three minutes of his time to a statement rather than a defence of the case for university representation, and he spent the remainder of his time dealing with the suggestion that, in some way or other, there has been a breach of faith between the two sides of the House. Perhaps it would be rather better if it were put as between the people who were in the last House of Commons and the people sitting in this, because I understand that most of my hon. Friends sitting behind me are absolved from any such accusation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not Ministers."] The right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) went so far as to say that we were precluded from bringing in a Measure to abolish university representation but that if we had introduced a Measure, my hon. Friends were perfectly free to produce Amendments which would effect the same result——
§ Sir A. Salter
What I said was that I thought they were perfectly free to express their views against the university franchise on merit, but that they ought also to consider whether, when a proposal has been brought forward by Ministers who were committed to a certain course, they should dissociate themselves from what I should have thought they must consider not to be proper action on the part of those Ministers.
§ Mr. Ede
It is quite obvious that my hon. Friends do not take that point of view. I will take the phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) that reforms of this kind should only be introduced after a well-established and prolonged demand. The first General Election that I recollect is that of 1892 at which "One man, one vote," was regarded as one of the great war cries. At every election in which I have participated since, I have advocated this reform. I know of no outstanding constitutional reform which has been more insistently demanded than this one, and to suggest that this is something which has come unexpectedly upon university representatives is really to strain one's imagination beyond breaking point——
§ Mr. Marlowe (Brighton)
If this has been for so long, such a strong tenet of 2005 Socialist faith, why in 1931 did the present Lord Chancellor run as a university candidate?
§ Mr. Ede
Because it is a long recognised and well-established principle that whenever one gets the chance one should spoil the Egyptians, and while the seats are there, there is no reason why persons of any political party and none should not attempt to secure one of them. I would remind the hon. and learned Member that at that time the Lord Chancellor was——
Mr. Quintin Hoģģ (Oxford)
§ Mr. Ede
—standing as an opponent of the Socialist Party. The right hon. Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill) raised the question of the seven million or so local government electors, and suggested that there was some bargain by which they were added to the municipal register in 1945 in exchange for 12 university seats. This is supposed to have been one of the things finally done by my right hon. Friend the Lord President. Really, I regard him as a far better driver—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—of a bargain than—what does it matter where he is? These 12 seats which are now in dispute, I understand, are not claimed by the Conservative Party. Are we to believe that they were so high-souled that they gave seven million votes in exchange for 12 seats which did not belong to them?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Will the right hon. Gentleman forgive me? [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] It is the ordinary procedure of this House. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the Lord President of the Council said he could not understand how it was that the Tories consented to this addition to the municipal vote except by way of an extreme sense of the British habit of compromise, and a desire that the Speaker's Conference should be successful?
§ Mr. Ede
I do not think that that deals with the point at all. I was suggesting that these two things are in no way counterpoises the one to the other. I am bound to say that, from my knowledge of what happened at the time, the reason why the seven million local government electors were added was the fact that 2006 everybody was told that unless there was one franchise for both local government and parliamentary elections, there could be no municipal electoral roll in time for the elections that people hoped would be held in the November of 1945. The registration officers throughout the country said that in the circumstances of the times it would not be possible to have a two-column Register, as used to happen prior to the war, because that would involve a canvass which, even up to the present, they have been unable to carry out, for electoral purposes. I share the view that has been taken by several hon. and right hon. Members speaking from this side of the Committee that, in fact, there was no bargain which could last beyond the time of the last Parliament and that, I think, is proved conclusively——
§ Mr. Ede
I think that was proved conclusively by the statement made by Lord Pethick-Lawrence when the matter was challenged a few weeks ago. However, I desire to answer the question put to me by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). He asked me: Is this Bill, so far as it relates to redistribution, a voluntary and spontaneous act of Government policy, or does it represent the fulfilment of an obligation? Are the Government free agents to carry or to withdraw the Bill, or are they under a moral obligation to proceed with it?
We are under an obligation to proceed with this Bill in order that we may redress the various electoral anomalies and misfits that have occurred since the Representation of the People Act, 1918. Whether there had been a Speaker's Conference or not, Parliamentary representation had become so unbalanced that it was obviously the duty of whatever Government happened to be in power, and had the opportunity, to take steps to deal with it. I have never defended the existing distribution of electoral power with the many anomalies that have been created in the country and which went unredressed by the special Measure that was pushed through Parliament just before the General Election. Whether there had been a Speaker's Conference or not, I could never have stood for seeing Stepney with three representatives, Southwark with three, Bethnal Green 2007 with two, and the City of London with two. We are bound to introduce this Bill, and at the same time we have taken the opportunity of redressing such other electoral anomalies as we think call for redress at the present time.
§ Mr. Ede
Moral obligations arise from a sense of right and wrong. There was no legal obligation, if I am asked to take a purely legalistic line, to have introduced this Measure at all. I suggest that any Government that had been in power would have had to deal with the issue of the present distribution of seats in the country. We have never believed in university representation, as has been admitted—
§ Mr. H. Straussrose——
§ Mr. Ede
I have given way to every hon. Member who has risen, and I am limited by time, otherwise I would give way to the hon. and learned Member. We were under a moral obligation to introduce this Bill. We have introduced it. It would have been morally wrong to have introduced a Bill containing a principle in which we did not believe. I say quite frankly to hon. Members on all sides of the Committee that, had I been asked to introduce a Bill which contained the principle of university representation, I would not have done it. Had I been asked to introduce a Bill which contained the representation of the City of London as a separate constituency, I would not have done it. I regard myself and the Government as free to deal with this matter in the light of the circumstances that exist today.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Why did the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Lord President agree with university representation in the last Parliament, if he felt so strongly about it?
§ Mr. Ede
No one has less right to put a question like that to me than the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] He and I were associated as Coalition Ministers in getting through an Act of Parliament, which I believe was a great Act of Parliament. It probably could only have been carried by a Coalition Government. He knows that in order that several issues might go on to the Statute Book, I, in the circumstances of those times, agreed to support and advocate things which, had I been the spokesman of a party Government, I would not have advocated.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
May I do the right hon. Gentleman the justice of saying that he has always adhered to the obligations which he undertook in those days?
§ Mr. Ede
Certainly I have, and the Lord President of the Council—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—preserved his reputation for the period of the Coalition Government. Neither he nor I is now bound to maintain that position in this Parliament, any more than if the Minister of Education now thought it desirable to introduce a first-class education measure I should, of necessity, be bound by all the compromises to which I agreed when I was a Member of the Coalition Government. We are told by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden that constitutional changes of this nature should be made by agreement. There has been only one agreed Representation of the People Bill in the history of this country and that was the one in 1918. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about 1867?"] Does any one contend that the Reform Bill of 1832 was an agreed Measure?
§ Mr. Ede
Does any one contend that the Reform Bill of 1867 was an agreed Measure? Did they have a General Election then? The right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) knows that in neither of those cases was it an agreed Measure.
§ Mr. Assheton
The right hon. Gentleman knows that in the 1867 case a proposal was brought forward which met with the approval of the other side.
§ Mr. Ede
So far from that being the case, one of the leading supporters of the Conservative Government of the day complained that the Measure, when it left the House, was more that of Mr. Gladstone than Mr. Disraeli. It was probably even more controversial during its passage through the House than the Act of 1832. We do not subscribe to this doctrine that, every time progress is desired in this country, it can only be obtained if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite agree to it. We believe that we are entrusted with the Government of this country——
§ Mr. Ede
It will be long enough for this, any way. We believe that we are entrusted with the Government of this country to see that the ideas for which we stand are placed on the Statute Book and we propose in this matter to stand on the line that we have always advocated. I do not believe that professional classes defend the university representatives in this House in order that their views should be voiced. I cannot help thinking that if they do they are particularly badly served——
§ Mr. Peake
I hope that in the five minutes remaining to him, the right hon. Gentleman will deal with the main point which I made against him personally. I asked the right hon. Gentleman why, in 1945, he stated on the Elections and Jurors Bill:… we regard ourselves as bound during the lifetime of the present Parliament to submit the necessary legislation to give effect to these recommendations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2rst November, 1945; Vol. 416, C. 453.]Those were the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference.
§ Mr. Ede
I was not attempting to evade that issue at all. My own view is that that phrase referred to the recommendations of the three bodies with which I should have to deal. They were the Speaker's Conference, the Carr Committee and the Committee which I was appointing about that time which was presided
§ over by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Oliver); but when one undertakes to implement the findings of a conference or a committee, one does not undertake to implement slavishly every detail in any one of the Reports with which one is dealing. I do not now, and I did not at the time, regard that as indicating that I should preserve university representation in this or any Bill for which. I was responsible.
§ I believe that, as was pointed out the article in "The Times" this morning, to which allusion has already been made, that the constitution of this House has been changed in the course of centuries, and that today we are completing the work which was commenced in 1832, prior to which there were a variety of franchises by which people returned Members to this House. There were boroughs in which, on the day of the election, the agent of the landlord went round with the necessary documents to select men to enable them to vote. That is precisely the kind of franchise which the universities now enjoy. We believe in the abolition of all these fancy franchises. This is the last which remains, and, as far as the Government are concerned, we believe that it is high time that it was wiped out.
§ Several Hon. Membersrose——
§ Mr. Hoggrose——
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 323; Noes, 203.2015
|Division No. 94.]||AYES.||[10 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Baird, J.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Attewell, H. C.||Balfour, A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Austin, H. Lewis||Barstow, P. G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Barton, C.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Bacon, Miss A||Battley, J. R|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Gibson, C. W.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Gilzean, A.||Mellish, R. J|
|Benton, G.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Messer, F.|
|Berry, H.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Beswick, F.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Bevan, Rt Hon. A (Ebbw Vale)||Grenfell, D. R.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E R|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Grey, C. F.||Mitchison, G. R|
|Binns, J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Monslow, W|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Griffiths, W. D. (Most Side)||Moody, A. S|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Morley, R|
|Blylon, W. R.||Gunter, R. J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Guy, W. H.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hale, Leslie||Morrison, Rt. Hon H (Lewisham, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Mort, D. L|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Hamilton, Lieul.-Col. R||Moyle, A.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Mulvey, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hardman, D. R||Murray, J D|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hardy, E. A.||Nally, W.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Harrison, J.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Haworth, J.||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G||Henderson, Rt Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brentford)|
|Burden, T. W||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||O'Brien, T.|
|Burke, W. A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Oldfield, W. H|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hewitson, Capt. M||Oliver, G. H|
|Callaghan, James||Hobson, C. R||Orbach, M.|
|Carmichael, James||Holman, P||Paget, R. T.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||House, G.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Champion, A. J||Hoy, J.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Chater, D.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parker, J.|
|Cobb, F. A||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Coldrick, W||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Collick, P.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Collindridge, F.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G A||Peart, T F|
|Collins, V. J.||Janner, B.||Perrins, W|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jay, D. P. T.||Piratin, P.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F|
|Cook, T. F.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Price, M. Philips|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Proctor, W T.|
|Corlett, Dr. J||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Cove, W G.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Crawley, A.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Randall, H. E|
|Cunningham, P.||Keenan, W||Ranger, J.|
|Daggar, G||Kenyon, C.||Rankin, J.|
|Daines, P.||Key, C. W.||Rees-Williams, D. R|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||King, E. M.||Raid, T. (Swindon)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Kingborn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kinley, J.||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D||Ridealgh, Mrs. M|
|Davies, R.J. (Westhoughton)||Lang, G.||Roberts, A.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Diamond, J.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Leslie, J. R.||Rogers, G. H. R,|
|Donovan, T.||Lever, N. H||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Levy, B. W||Sargood, R|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Scollan, T|
|Dumpleton, C W.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lindgren, G. S.||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Sharp, Granville|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Longden, F.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Lyne, A. W.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St. Helens)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||McAdam, W||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McEntee, V La T||Shurmer, P.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||McGhee, H. G||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mack, J. D.||Silverman, J (Erdington)|
|Ewart, R.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Fairhurst, F.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Farthing, W. J||McKinlay, A. S.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Fernyhough, E.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Field, Capt. W J.||McLeavy, F.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Fletcher, E G. M. (Islington, E.)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Follick, M||McNeil, Rt Hon. H.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Fool, M. M||Mallalieu, J. P. W||Solley, L. J.|
|Forman, J. C||Mann, Mrs. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Soskice, Sir Frank|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gallacher, W.||Marquand, H. A.||Stamford, W.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Steele, T.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Stress, Dr. B||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Stubbs, A. E.||Ungoed-Thomas, L||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Usborne, Henry||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Swingler, S.||Vernon, Maj. W. F||Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)|
|Sylvester, G. O||Viant, S. P.||Williams, W R. (Heston)|
|Symonds, A. L||Walker, G. H.||Willis, E|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Warbey, W. N||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Watkins, T. E||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H|
|Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Watson, W. M.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Thomas, John R. (Dover)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Woods, G. S|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)||Wyatt, W.|
|Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Tiffany, S.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Timmons, J.||Wilkins, W. A.||Zilliacus, K|
|Titterington, M. F||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Tolley, L.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Snow and Mr. G. Wallace.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Graham-Little, Sir E||Maude, J. C.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Grant, Lady||Medlicott, Brigadier F|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Grimston, R. V.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Harmon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Harden, J. R. E.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Harvey Air-Comdre. A. V||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester)|
|Beechman, N. A||Haughton, S. G.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Mullan, Lt. C. H|
|Birch, Nigel||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Neven-Spence, Sir B|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholson, G.|
|Bossom, A C.||Herbert, Sir A. P.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Bower, N||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Odey, G. W.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Hope, Lord J.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Howard, Hon. A.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Byers, Frank||Jarvis, Sir J.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E|
|Carson, E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Prescott, Stanley|
|Challen, C.||Jennings, R.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Channon, H.||Keeling, E. H.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Kendall, W. D.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Cole, T. L.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Renton, D.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E-||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)||Robinson, Roland|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Linstead, H. N.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|De la Bere, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Donner, P. W||Low, A. R. W.||Savory, Prof. D. L,|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G (Penrith)||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Drewe, C.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||McCallum, Maj. D.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Duthie, W. S||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col., Rt. Hon W||McFarlane, C. S.||Spence, H, R.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Fox, Sir G,||Maclean, F. H R||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||MacLeod, J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Taylor, Vice-Adm E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Gage, C.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Teeling, William|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, G. N|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Marples, A. E.||Touche, G. C.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Walker-Smith, D||White, J. B (Canterbury)||Voting, Sir A S L (Partick)|
|Ward, Hon. G. R||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Mr. Studholme and|
|Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)||Winterton, Rt Hon. Earl||Lieut.-Golonel Thorp.|
|White, Sir D. (Fareham)||York, C|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'country and borough' stand part of the Clause."
|Division No. 95.]||AYES.||[10.15 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Irving, W J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S W)||Janner, B.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Alpass, J H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Diamond, J.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Dodds, N. N||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C (Shipley)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Donovan, T.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Driberg, T. E. N||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Dumpleton, C W||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Ede, Rt. Hon J. C||Keenan, W|
|Baird, J.||Edelman, M.||Kenyon, C.|
|Balfour, A||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Key, C. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Edwards, W. J (Whitechapel)||King, E. M.|
|Barstow, P. G||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E|
|Barton, C||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Kinley, J.|
|Battley, J R||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Lang, G.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. J.||Ewart, R.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Benson, G||Fairhurst, F.||Lee, Miss J, (Cannock)|
|Berry, H||Farthing, W. J||Leslie, J. R.|
|Beswick, F.||Fernyhough, E.||Lever, N. H.|
|Bevan, Rt Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Field, Capt. W. J.||Levy, B. W.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Binns, J.||Follick, M.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Foot, M M||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Forman, J. C.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Blyton, W R||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Longden, F.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon H T N||Lyne, A. W.|
|Bowden, Fig.-Offr. H. W.||Gallacher, W.||McAdam, W.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||McEntee, V. La T|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||George, Lady M Lloyd Anglesey)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gibbins, J||Mack, J. D.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Gibson, C W||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gilzean, A.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Glanville, J. E (Consett)||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McLeavy, F.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Grenfell, D. R.||MacMillan, M. K (Western Isles)|
|Buchanan, Rt. Hon G||Grey, C. F||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Burden, T W.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, J P W|
|Burke, W A||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mann, Mrs J.|
|Butler, H. W (Hackney, S.)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)|
|Byers, Frank||Gunter, R. J.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Callaghan, James||Guy, W H.||Marquand, H. A.|
|Carmichael, James||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hale, Leslie||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Champion, A. J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvill||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Chater, D.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R||Mellish, R. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hannan, W (Maryhill)||Messer, F.|
|Cluse, W S||Hardman, D R.||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Cobb, F A||Hardy, E. A.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cocks, F. S||Harrison, J.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R|
|Coldrick, W||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Collick, P||Haworth, J.||Monslow, W.|
|Collindridge, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Moody, A. S.|
|Collins, V. J.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Morley, R.|
|Colman, Miss G. M,||Herbison, Miss M.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Hewitson, Capt. M||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hobson, C. R||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Holman, P.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||House, G.||Mort, D. L.|
|Corlett, Dr. J||Hoy, J.||Moyle, A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Mulvey, A|
|Crawley, A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Murray, J D|
|Cunningham, P.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Nally, W.|
|Daggar, G.||Hughes, H. D (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Daines, P.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Neal, H. (Claycrdss)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 328; stand part Noes, 198.2019
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Timmons, J.|
|O'Brien, T.||Sargood, R.||Titterington, M. F|
|Oldfield, W. H||Scollan, T||Tolley, L,|
|Oliver, G. H||Scott-Elliot, W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Orbach, M.||Shackleton, E. A A||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Paget, R. T.||Sharp, Granville||Usborne, Henry|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St Helens)||Viant, S. P.|
|Palmer, A. M. F||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E||Wadsworth, G.|
|Pargiter, G A||Shurmer, P.||Walker, G. H|
|Parker, J||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L||Warbey, W. N.|
|Parkin, B. T||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Watkins, T E|
|Paton, Mrs. F (Rushclifle)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Watson, W M.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Simmons, C J.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Pearson, A.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Peart, T. F||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Perrins, W||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Piratin, P.||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Plans-Mills, J. F. F||Solley, L. J.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C A B|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Soremen, R. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Price, M, Philips||Soskice, Sir Frank||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Pritt, D. N.||Sparks, J. A||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Proctor, W T||Stamford, W||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Steele, T.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Randall, H. E||Stross, Dr. B.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Ranger, J.||Stubbs, A. E.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Rankin, J,||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Willis, E.|
|Rees-Williams, D. R||Swingler, S.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Reeves, J.||Sylvester, G. O||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H|
|Reid, T (Swindon)||Symond'S, A. L.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Richards, R.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Woods, G. S|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wyatt, W.|
|Roberts, A.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Yates, V. F|
|Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Zilliacus, K|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Tiffany, S||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Snow and Mr. G. Wallace.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Grayson, G. B||Jeffreys, General Sir G|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)||Jennings, R.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Duthie, W. S||Keeling, E. H.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Eccles, D, M.||Kendall, W. D.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col., Rt. Hon. W||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W H|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Lambert, Hon. G|
|Baxter, A. B||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Lancaster, Col. C G|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Fox, Sir G.||Langford-Holt, J|
|Beechman, N. A.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Law, Rt Hon. R. K.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Birch, Nigel||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Lennox-Boyd, A T|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gage, C.||Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Bower, N.||Gammans, L. D.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G Lloyd (P'ke)||Lipson, D. L.|
|Bracken, Rt Hon. Brendan||Glyn, Sir R||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Gomme-Duncan, Col A||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bullock, Capt. M||Graham-Little, Sir E||Low, A. R. W|
|Butcher, H. W.||Grant, Lady||Lucas, Major Sir J|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Grimston, R. V.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Carson, E.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Challen, C.||Harden, J. R. E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C|
|Channon, H.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon M. S|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)|
|Cole, T. L.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||McFarlane, C. S.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Haughton, S. G.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Head, Brig. A. H||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Maclay, Hon. J. S|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maclean, F. H. R|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Herbert, Sir A. P.||MacLeod, J.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Maitland, Comdr. J W|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hope, Lord J||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|De la Sere, R||Howard, Hon. A||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Marples, A. E.|
|Donner, P W.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J||Marsden, Capt. A.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. S. (Penrith)||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Jarvis, Sir J.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Maude, J. C.||Ramsay, Maj. S||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Medlicott, Brigadier F.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Mellor, Sir J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J S. C (Hillhead)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n. S)|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Renton, D.||Teeling, William|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||Thorp, Brigadier, R. A. F|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Robinson, Roland||Touche, G C.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester)||Ropner, Col. L.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Wakefield, Sir W W|
|Mullan, Lt. C. H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Walker-Smith, D|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B||Sanderson, Sir F.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Nicholson, G.||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Walt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Nield, B. (Chester)||Scott, Lord W.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Shephard, S. (Newark)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Odey, G. W.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Smithers, Sir W||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Snadden, W. M.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Pick thorn, K||Spearman, A. C M||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Pitman, I. J.||Spence, H. R.||York, C.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Prescott, Stanley||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Price-White, Lt.-Col. D||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Raikes, H. V||Studholme, H. G.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
§ It being after Ten o'Clock and objection being taken to further Proceeding, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.