§ Mr. William Hamilton (by Private Notice)
asked the Lord Privy Seal when he will make a statement on the implications of the decision made by the House of Lords yesterday on the Order relating to United Nations mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia.
§ The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
The existing Order remains in force until early July. The Government will bring a new Order before both Houses as soon as possible.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hopes to make a further statement in the House tomorrow on the constitutional issues involved.
§ Mr. Hamilton
In view of what was said in the other place yesterday, can my right hon. Friend say whether it will be possible for the Government to introduce the identical Order again?
Secondly, in view of the obvious intention of Her Majesty's Opposition to use the House of Lords as a ready-made instrument for bare-knuckle party politics, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will take up the challenge and, as a first step, at least suspend forthwith the all-party talks on House of Lords reform?
§ Mr. Peart
In reply to my hon. Friend's first question, my right hon. Friend, and, indeed, the Commonwealth Secretary, are taking legal advice. I understand that there may have to be changes of a technical nature, but I do not think that the preparation of a new Order will present any new difficulty.
In reply to the second matter raised by my hon. Friend, he should await the statement tomorrow by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Thorpe
May I ask the Leader of the House two questions? First, in view of the fact that Monday's vote in this House sought to repeal certain existing Statutory Instruments in favour of the new one, will the Prime Minister be mentioning the legal consequences or can we have a statement from the Attorney-General?
Secondly, as the vote last night sought to dishonour obligations which this country has entered into with the United Nations, and as of the 194 votes against the Order 119 were from Peers who sit in the other House on an hereditary basis, does not this prove beyond per-adventure the necessity of abolishing for all time the hereditary principle of the House of Lords?
§ Mr. Park
Will my right hon. Friend convey to the Prime Minister the views of many of us on this side that this deliberate flouting of the will of the elected Chamber by a non-representative and archaic Upper House creates an overwhelming case not only for the abolition of the hereditary element in the other place, but for the total abrogation of its delaying powers as well?
§ Sir Knox Cunningham
Might not the best way of ascertaining the wishes of the people concerning the position of the House of Lords be by consulting them at a General Election and not by paying attention to the views of hon. Members who are supporting an utterly unrepresentative and discredited Government?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Between now and tomorrow, will my right hon. Friend advise the Prime Minister to reread what the late Sir Winston Churchill "said at the time of one of the last constitutional crises, when he referred to the House of Lords as a Punch and Judy show? If that is the case, and the House of Lords is living up to its reputation, is it not time to abolish that Punch and Judy show?
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
Can the Leader of the House say whether the House of Lords works on a system of dog licences, like the Government side of this House?
§ Mr. John Hynd
In making his statement tomorrow, will the Prime Minister make a statement on the constitutional implications of the fact that the majority in the House of Lords were clearly carrying out a direct mandate given to them by a Government who are in rebellion against the Crown?
§ Mr. Hastings
Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that yesterday's decision by the House of Lords was consistent, courageous and correct, and that for the Government, operating as they are without any mandate whatever from the British people, to start tampering with the constitution at this time would be most dangerous?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Equally, when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister makes his statement tomorrow, will he have regard to the inescapable, well-known fact that according to the Press—all reputable organs of the Press particularly— the hereditary section of the House of Lords was instructed by the Leader of 1107 the Opposition to take the right hon. Gentleman's view?
Mr. Gresham Cooke
With regard to the constitutional position of the House of Lords, will the Leader of the House advise the Prime Minister, before making his statement tomorrow, that the House of Lords performs a valuable function by registering a vote which is exactly in conformity with what the man in the street thinks on the topics of today?
§ Mr. Winnick
Is it not the fact that the Tory Peers who voted against the Rhodesian Order did so at the express wish of two parties: first, as has already been mentioned, the Front Bench opposite, but, secondly, Ian Smith, who sent a special message to the Peers through the Evening Standard last night? Is the Leader of the House aware that regardless of the Tory Peers who voted against the Order, many of them with substantial business interests in Rhodesia, their action, far from changing our minds—
§ Mr. Winnick
—far from changing our minds, we will fight all the more effectively against the illegal Rhodesian Front régime in Salisbury?
§ Mr. Brooks
Will my right hon. Friend recall that it was once said on, I think, good authority that a majority of one vote was enough? Would he not agree that a majority of nine votes is more than enough to concentrate our minds on the future of the situation when unwholesome instructions can be carried out by an unrepresentative assembly in support of an alien and thoroughly undemocratic régime?
§ Mr. Cronin
Is it not time that the influence of heraldic monsters should be eliminated from the political scene and that if a Second Chamber proves to be necessary it should be established on modern lines, compatible with the good opinion of people in this country and in countries abroad?
§ Mr. Whitaker
Is my right hon. Friend aware that four million Rhodesian Africans who have grown out of the system of tribal chiefs will be watching with interest tomorrow to see whether we grow out of our tribal hereditary system?
§ Sir Knox Cunningham
On a point of order. Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the Leader of the House, I will raise the matter again.