House of Lords Reform

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House of Lords Reform

House of Lords Reform

A. 

We shall have to pronounce on these issues.  We haven't considered  them.  Submd this memo. to focus discn.
Four essential condns in para. 4.
Para. 3.  Can't find that Party have ever taken firm decisions.
If not single Chamber Govt. (& I wdn't favour that) you can defend status quo (not easy) or adjust it or invent somethg. new.
Last in too diff. as shown by Bryce Rpt.
Hence para. 4.
 (ii) Shd. be power to create Life Peers.  Men willing to serve in H/L. who don't want to saddle families with it.
(iii) No diffce of opinion on this, surely.
(iv) Some Labour members who wd. be useful are prevented by lack of means from acceptg. Peerage.
 (v) This is obvious – tho' not so important if we achieve (i).
      These wd. be pre-conditions of any discussion.
  (i) I have had many informal conversns with Salisbury & Samuel.    I have made (i) axiomatic.  Salisbury wants to find an accommodn – doesn't want a fight.
I wd. not therefore put it as certain tht. Bill will be rejected.
Salisbury will try to get it passed 2nd Rdg. & discussed in Cttee.
Suppose there must be some talk with Labour Party about this.
But we must face this issue.
Appendix.  If hereditary right to attend & vote were abolished a new right wd. have to be created – one Clause Bill & new qualifications in a Schedule.
First creation is so large because since 1801 (? 1881) all new creations have been U.K. creations.

P.M. 

This issue will be raised in H/Lds.  Opposn will put fwd. some proposals for rationalising H/Lds.
We have proposed (in Bill) clipping of wings.
If H/Lds. is to be reformed it must have no effective pol. power.
Do you need 2nd Chamber at all? In theory, no. Perhaps however, useful as revising power if no concurrent legve power.
Changes of Govt. & new creation of life Peers each time will result in a larger House.
Line of least resistance in L.P.S. memo. on basis tht. all effective work of H/L. is in fact done now by 1st creation Peers.
Other points to be considered 
a) Judicial Functions & Law Lords.
b) Bishops. Favour leaving them as they are.  For many are now Labour.
I'm committed to "no 2nd Chamber". But this isn't inconsistent with revising Chamber.
Disposed to consult the Party.

H.M. 

Inclined to agree.
Wdn't mind leaving things as now.
Wdn't like to propose reforms because Tories ask for it.
Life Peers right in principle.
Cd. make elected 2nd Chamber.  But = Bd./Alderman:  removes dignity:  makes it too logical.  Value of ceremonial.
Need for something reasonably irrational.
Cd. you do w'out 2nd Chamber? The more I see of legn in practice the more I doubt it. Scope for later amendment.  Otherwise there wd. have to be extra stage in H/C.
Bishops – inclined to favour P.M.'s line & leave well alone.
Don't be too logical:  for I don't want R.C. representn.
Shd. consult Party on point tht. we intend to have discussions.
Let National Executive know also.

A.B. 

Why shd. we grasp this nettle? What have we to gain?
What a controversial issue to put to Party.
Time. Pestered over Bills wh. we say we have no time for.  And serious measures of social reform  This = frippery.
If you touch H/L. at all you must do it sensibly.  Must therefore start de novo, examine functions etc., - and no historical hangovers.  Either a sensible 2nd Chamber or an irrational survival.  What of Churches?  If we alter this, it is us who will have to shoulder blame (not history) for havg. C/E repd & no other religious body.
If any 2nd Chamber, why the H/Lds?  All the other ideas will be canvassed.  "Industrial" Chamber etc.
Practical point re amendments is nonsense.
Leave it alone – irrational, colourful, historical as it may be.

A.W. 

This argument assumes we are takg. initiative.
I thought it was a ques. of our attitude twds. an initiative from Opposn.
If all we are doing is to clip wings of existing body, we haven't to face all these 'de novo' ques. Excluding hereditary principle = only further clipping of the wings.  And, if that is to be done, & H/Lds. is to be contd, power to create life Peers is essential.

C.E. 

Can't accept doctrine tht. 195 Peers of 1st creation shd. have a right to attend & vote.  If hered. princ. goes, it shd. go altogether:  & existg. chaps must make the grade like all others.
Bishops.  This = 1st Cab. with non C/E. majority.  What a thing for us to do.  Effect on non-conformist & Presbyterian opinion.
We can't ignore repns by Opposn tht. they want reform considered.
For if we decline, we shd. encourage Tories to take it up when in power & put thro' somethg. we dislike more.
This = our chance to get lasting solution acceptable to ourselves.

P.M. 

If we don't take this up, we may imply tht. we like H/L. as it is.

A.V.A. 

Well? Thought our view was tht. Party wdn't accept anything less than their maximum & that that might be regarded as outside our mandate.
Does it matter if H/L. delay this Bill for 3 Sessions.

A.W. 

But suppose H/L. put into this Bill their ideas of H/Lds. reform by amendment.

J. 

If we don't deal with this, Tories will.
Argument: The more logical you make the 2nd Chamber, the more you strengthen their claim to powers. If Tories take it up, they may not only reform it but amend its powers.
I therefore favour doing somethg. now with which we can agree.

R.S.C. 

I wdn't associate myself with any reformed H/Lds. with any Sovereign powers. A reformed H/Lds. shd. not have even the reduced powers as under current Bill.

C.E. 

Must have some powers: & these seem minimum.

T.W. 

Support H.M.'s practical point re amendmts. in H/Lds.
If we had to move careful in H/C., our volume of legn wd. be much reduced.

R.S.C. 

Agree to revising Chamber.
But Party has no policy on this.  And thousand diff. ideas.
How can you get a Party decn – w'out a complete scheme.
Procedure will have to be altered.  Must be, not a Chamber with diff. composn, but diff. Parly. procedure as a whole.
No-one has really examined this.
This is not a revising Chamber – only a stunted H/Lds.  And yet it will raise all the diff. points.
If we are to go into this line of business, we must do it properly.

A.B. 

This wd be embarkg. on written constitution.

P.M. 

Danger of too much logic.
Your logical 2nd Chamber wd depart from B. tradition.  Our method is to build on past, adapting it.
House of Lords was essentially hereditary.  Now we propose to keep it but abolish hereditary principle. Typically British.
Powers. Limited by Parlt. Act & now by current Bill.
This = minimum to ensure tht. suggns of a revising Chamber are considered.

R.S.C. 

But O's in Council.  H/L. have absolute power there.  I cdn't accept that as permanent position.

P.M. 

Status quo: diffy of getting our chaps to go there. This is practical diffy & increasing.

R.S.C. 

How wd. you enforce para. 4(v)?

A. 

As best you can.  Can't do it really.  But wdn't accept condns which suggested tht. balance wdn't be reasonably level.
Driven to this memo. by the facts confronting us.
We shall get these repns.  We must know how to meet them.
May give us opportunity.
The "logical" school will get nowhere. Traditional B. developmt.   method = only practical hope of getting anything.
If we don't do somethg., someone else will.

G.A.I. 

Can't avoid discussions.
Better to go in, w'out any policy of our own, & hear what they say.

P.M. 

Must insist on Bill going thro'.
Must wait until approach made to us by H/L. Opposition.
Must adjourn this (v. useful) discussion pro tem.

A. 

Want a decn & consultn with Party before 2nd Rdg. of Bill in H/L. in 3 wks' time.

A.B. 

Wd. leak out into Press & cloud issue over this Bill.

P.M. 

Can't we repeat – willing to consider any proposals when Bill is thro':  but want the Bill first.

C.E. 

If we show willingness to discuss, they may p'pone 2nd Rdg. Until discns proceeded some way.
Don't want to go into discns with hands tied by Party.
Want to see the Opposn proposals first.
Don't want to appear tht. we are takg. initiative.

P.M.     

{ Don't raise it with Party until approach
       x/{ has actually bn. made, & proposals submitted.

H.M. 

L.P.S. shd. be authorised to tell Salisbury tht. we are ready to talk if Bill goes through.

P.M. 

Don't want to promise to talk. Only to listen.
Don't let us raise this hare at all.
No harm in L.P.S. having informal exchanges.

R.S.C. 

We mustn't get committed to serious discussions with intent to act.

P.M. 

No: for Party might take the line that either you abolish H/Lds. Or reform it logically.
Repeated x/.

H.M. 

Then A. can't hold his posn. Can't he say:  "if you pass this Bill we are ready to enter into bona fide discussions re modificns in composn of H/Lords."

R.S.C. 

This does commit us, e.g. not to abolish H/Lds.  }

A.B. 

And to a 2nd Chamber wh. is only a modified H/Lds. }
And on neither point is Cabinet agreed.

P.M. 

W are not in a posn to bargain with Opposition on this.

A. 

I will submit a draft of what I shd. like to say on 2nd Rdg. 

Taken from C.M. 1(48) - Meeting held on 6 January 1948.