Reform of House of Lords - 17 May 1956

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Reform of House of Lords - 17 May 1956


L.P.

 Diffies. of hereditary Peers.  One such, when I said "you can't possibly
  put fwd. that scheme : you might as well say you believed in
  divine right of Kings" replied:  "But I do believe in divine right
  of Kings"!
 Selection Cttee. :  wd. begin by asking all wtr they wished to be
  considered : I believe 50% wd. decline : choice wd. then be made
  between remaining 50%.  Process of selection, by all-Party Cttee.,
  would give us cream of the House.  Revision for each Parliament
  wd. keep it fresh & up to date.
 Urgency : figures of attendance show clearly how small a propn. of
  hereditary Peers take part.  "Majority of backwoodsmen are
  now in City of London."
 This method wd. select those who can & will serve, & wd. enhance
  reputn. of H/Lords.
 Wish for authority now to ascertain informally wtr back-benchers in
  H/L. wd. support this scheme.
 Swamping.  Am more doubtful now wtr this shd. be excluded.  For wd.
  be important not to combine this measure with any change in
  powers of H/L.
 Peers who decline to sit in H/L.  Shd. they be eligible to sit in H/C.  My
  view : they shd., but shd. not then be eligible for H/L. later.

K.

 Strong support for this plan.  Slow decay.

P.M.

 Agree.  Single-chamber govt. wd. be disastrous.
  Believe country wd. accept this.  A monumental achievement for
  this Parliament.  Next session wd. be last chance.
 Shd.

K.

& S. consult with R.A.B. & E.H. on outstanding points : with
  Cttee. of officials under Coldstream to help.  Settle some of these
  before takg. soundings of back-bench Peers.

D.S.

 Will be said tht. this is designed to secure permanent Tory majority
  in H/L. because Selection Cttee. has Tory majority & won't be
  trusted to give adequate repn. to other Parties.
 Life peers.  Reflect division of Parties on first choice only - or
  thereafter also.  I wd. prefer tht. after first batch P.M. of the day
  shd. be expected to nominate life Peers of his own Party.

L.P.

 Wd. prefer to keep to proportionate basis until whole 200 had bn.
  appointed.  Thereafter P.M.'s unlimited choice.

D.S.

 Result wd. be 200 reflectg. state of Parties;  but other 200 wd. ensure
  Tory majority.

L.P.

 Inevitable.

P.M.

 Diff. to find 200 life Peers?

L.P.

 Yes : that's why we start with 75.

Taken from C.M. 37(56) - Meeting held on 17 May 1956.