House of Lords reform

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House of Lords reform

L.P. 

Fr. discn. on 26/9 there emerged serious doubts on diff. grds by
  D.E. : doubt perpetn. of hereditary principle.
  I.M. : too dangerous.
  W.M. : better to do life Peers only.
 Have since discussed with senior colleagues - main diffy. seems to be selection by H/L. predominantly Tory.  Suggd. tht. selection Cttee. shd. consist of equal nos. of 3 Parties + cross-bencher.  Charm of original plan for H/L. was tht. Selection Cttee. and its selection were non-Party.  Ready to discuss this with Peers.  But, if they agree with me, Cab. will have to choose wtr to go on or not: long Bill, short Bill or none.
 Don't think much in I.M.'s point.  Labour Party will one day wish to abolish H/L. & it will be more diff. for them if H/L. have m'while been made more effective.


D.S. 

I am not opposed to hereditary principle.  But prefer to leave it unchanged & put fwd. only shorter Bill.


I.M. 

That is a view which I cd. support.  It is longer Bill wh. would force Labour Party to harden into policy of abolition.


H.A. 

I am now of that opinion.


K. 

Support long Bill.  Admit short Bill wd. prevent H/L. dying on its feet. But want an effective 2nd. Chamber.  Labour rules out anythg. wh. wd. compete with H/C.  Forced therefore to build on existg H/L.  At present only 400 take oath.  Why not improve on present posn.
 Not much politics in this now.  But, even if Labour didn't co-operate at first, they wd. come in - & anyway we wd. have effective H/L.
 Wd. Labour Govt. abolish H/L.?  Our m/govt. wdn't work w'out 2nd. Chamber.  We shd. make a good one.  Reputn. of Govts enhanced by grasping nettles.


A.L.B. 

Favour longer Bill.  Must get rid of backwoodsman charge.


J.S. 

Agree.  Labour didn't abolish H/L. in '45.  Endorse A.L.B. point : that is dangerous weakness.


B.H. 

Agree.  Short Bill fails to deal with most dangerous weakness.  And this may be last chance to do anything effective.
 No harm - only good - in inducing Labour Party to define their policy.


R.A.B.  

X Legn. next session wd. be too late.
 S. alone cd. get this thro'.
 Hope he will investigate composn. of selection Cttee.


L.P. 

On x/ : if left another year, mght well become Election issue.


E.H. 

Back-bench opinion : some think it shdn't be touched : some that powers shd. be tackled.
Hail. Now or never.  And unless S. will introduce & back a plan, no legn. will be practicable.
 Cd. suggest to S. a short Bill which wd. preserve heredy. princ.


H.M. 

Wd. not wish to overthrow H/L.  But dangers in touchg. it.  It will gradually evolve.  Purpose of short Bill is to allow life Peerages to swamp rest, if that is general will.
 Practical problem:  how to make it work?  Life Peers plus allowances.  How do you select those whom  you will pay.  Pay those who happen to come.  Or pay those selected to sit. 
 My worry over selection is system of doing it.  Self-selection.  If we can't make that more easily defensible, we may have to confine ourselves to short Bill + allowances.


L.P. 

But main charge v. H/L. is tht. v. large nos. can come & vote when they will.  If you pay those who come only once a year abuse will seem greater.  Or if masses attend, to be paid.
 V. diff. for Govt. to defend short Bill as reform of H/Lds.


H.M. 

But if we present this as real reform can you justify not dealing with Bishops etc.,
 Hope L.P. will consider suggn. re method of selection.  All-Party Cttee.


D.E. 

It is the method of selection wh. worries me most.  The "one-nation group" is against touching this.
   Agreed : L.P. to make soundings re composn. of Selection
    Cttee.

Taken from C.M. 69(56) - Meeting held on 8 October 1956.