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Clause 1—(Capacity Of Women To Be Members Of Parliament)

Volume 110: debated on Wednesday 6 November 1918

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

A woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to or sitting or voting as a Member of the Commons House of Parliament.

I beg to move, after the word "woman," to insert the words "if she shall have attained the age of thirty." I, and a great number of others, were rather astonished when we saw this Bill, to find that there was no limit fixed as to the age when women should become eligible to be elected as Members of Parliament. The Noble Lord is aware, as I said on the Second Reading, that I have been a persistent opponent of women's, suffrage, but I always held, if you gave the women the suffrage, that their admission into Parliament was a corollary and the natural result, but I never thought that you were going to have an age limit as regards the franchise and no age limit at all as regards women becoming Members of Parliament. I have always held that if you gave them the franchise you were bound to give them legislative functions, but under this Bill you are giving them legislative functions when they have not the franchise. My right hon. Friend, besides being a statesman, is also learned in the law.

The Noble Lord is at the present time, and I would like to put to him a question. Perhaps he can enlighten me. We know that the minority of a male ceases at the age of twenty-one, and that he then attains his majority. Can the Noble Lord tell me when the minority of a female ceases, and when she attains her majority? It is rather important. I think he said, on the Second Reading, that a woman, under this Bill, could not be elected to Parliament unless she had attained the age of twenty-one. May I ask him on what ground he stated that? Has he any ground for stating it? Why is twenty-one the age? Of course, I am only a layman and I know nothing about the law, but, as far as I know, a girl or a woman never reaches her majority. The Noble Lord, on the Second Reading, told us that this applies to twenty-one. I say, quite respectfully, that I am not sure whether that is quite certain. In my opinion, there is no reason why a young girl of eighteen should not present herself as a candidate, and, if elected, sit in Parliament.

Eight would be rather young, but we will put it like this: A flapper might present herself for election. We know that there is an age limit for a male, but, as far as I can ascertain, it will not apply to women. I know it will be urged that men are not debarred from sitting in Parliament even if they do not possess the electoral qualification and cannot exercise the vote. That is one reason urged by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Cleveland Division (Mr. Herbert Samuel) why no age limit should be assigned to women.

I have already dealt with that question. I believe, under this Bill, that a young woman of eighteen, or even under eighteen, could become a Member. Therefore that argument has not much force. You give the franchise to women when they are thirty, but under this Bill you make them eligible to become Members of this House at an indefinite age, and certainly below the age at which we give them the franchise. It will be known to my Noble Friend that in the different Legislatures on the Continent there is a certain age limit fixed before which men cannot become either deputies or senators. I believe, in France, you cannot become a deputy till you arrive at the age of twenty-five. In Italy it is the same. In France you cannot become a senator till you arrive at the age of forty. I, therefore, do press my Noble Friend to accept this Amendment. I assure him that it is not moved in any way to obstruct his measure. I must say that I am not enamoured of the Bill, but I accept it as the corollary of the other, and I submit that this is a logical Amendment, and that view is held by many of those who were strong partisans of women's suffrage. The Noble Lord will remember that when the Franchise Bill was before the House the question of giving the vote to women was left free to the House to decide. I would ask him whether he would be willing to leave this question open to the House, by which I mean that the Government Whips should not be put on when this Amendment goes to a Division? I think that is only fair. It is a point on which there is considerable difference of opinion, and it will not affect the principle of the Bill one iota. I do therefore ask him to take that into consideration. No one imagined that when this Bill was introduced the age at which a woman might become a Member of this House would be below the age at which they are entitled to exercise the franchise.

My Noble Friend, when he spoke on the Motion for leave to introduce a Bill of this sort, founded his argument on the statement that it would not be logical to grant a woman a vote, and to refuse to give her leave to sit in this House. I did not deny that there was a considerable amount of force in that argument, but I did argue that we did not know what the effect of this revolution would be, and that it was advisable to wait a little and see the effect of it before admitting women to this House. There was one flaw in my right hon. Friend's argument, and I think he knew that flaw, because the clergy for years have had the vote but have not been allowed to sit in this House. A man of such deep religious feelings and convictions as my Noble Friend must have been well aware of that fact. Now that we have the Bill we find that it is totally different from what we were given to understand it would be when the Motion was before the House, because the Bill does not admit women who are entitled to vote; it admits women who are not entitled to vote. That is entirely against the argument of my Noble Friend. What really has happened is this: Whenever a woman takes a little she generally says, "That is all I want; it is absurd to think I should want any more," but as soon as she gets that she wants something more—something which she said just before that she did not want.

During Mr. Speaker's Conference—I think I am correct in stating this, because I have taken some trouble to verify it—a deputation of women did attend some members and ridiculed the idea that, if the vote were given to them, they would never wish to sit in the House. Now, having got the vote, they proceed to ask to be able to sit in the House. By this Bill they would be so qualified. Of course, the next thing would be to say, "It is not logical to allow a woman of twenty-one to be a Member of Parliament and at the same time to refuse her the vote." We shall then immediately have a Bill to reduce the age qualification from thirty to twenty-one, and we shall be told, 'It is not logical for you to oppose it; you gave them power to sit in the House; how can you defend the suggestion that a woman who is capable of sitting in the House, perhaps of sitting in the Chairman's chair, or in Mr. Speaker's chair, or even sitting where my Noble Friend is sitting at the present moment and presiding over the destinies of the Foreign Office, yet at the same time she is not fit to vote?" The idea is absurd. Now we come to the question raised by the Amendment, as to what is the legal disqualification which prevents a woman being elected at the age of eighteen. I have taken the trouble to ascertain whether there is any legal disqualification for men. It seems that previously to 7 and 8 Wm. III. minors were frequently permitted to sit in the House.
"By Section 7 of that Act it was, however, enacted that no person should be capable of being elected in that or any future Parliament if he was not of the age of twenty-one years, and if he presumed to sit or vote that he should be liable to the same penalties as a person sitting or voting without having been elected. Since the passing of that Act, minors have, however, sat in the House, namely, Charles James Fox, who sat for Midhurst before he was twenty years of age, and Lord John Russell for Tavistock before he was of age."
There is something about Ireland which I will not read. It is evidently plain from that that the Act which says that no person shall be capable of being elected unless he is of the age of twenty-one years has been violated, and that men under twenty-one have sat in this House. Surely some age-limit should be laid down, even if my Noble Friend is not prepared to accept thirty years. I cannot see how, on his own logic, he can refuse to accept thirty. I disagree with his interruption when he said that he is not learned in the law. He still is learned in the law, and I am quite certain that if he were arguing my case before a judge he would argue it with such force that the judge would be compelled to accept his proposal. I hope that I have convinced him that he is wrong.

I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment. The argument put forward by my hon. Friend who moved it was that since we fixed the age of thirty as the age at which women can vote, therefore we ought to adopt the same age for their sitting in Parliament. I am afraid I do not agree with that either as a proposition of constitutional law or as really resting on the true facts of what has happened in this matter. So far as constitutional law is concerned, nothing is clearer than that the present condition of the English law is that it is not a necessary qualification for Members of Parliament that they should have the right to vote. Therefore, as a matter of constitutional law, there is nothing in that point so far as I can see.

I gather that the point of the Noble Lord's argument is that a certain man may not be qualified to vote because he may not have the occupational franchise or the residential franchise, but that he is qualified to vote on account of age. There is no disqualification for voting on account of age, but the point is that in the case of women there is a special disqualification upon the point of age and not on the point as to whether they have property or are otherwise qualified.

The general proposition is quite true, that it is a principle of the Constitution that anyone can sit in this Parliament who has not a vote for a Member of Parliament. As to this particular disqualification, everybody knows quite well why the age of thirty years was fixed as the age at which women could vote. It had nothing to do with their supposed capacity or incapacity between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one. That limit was adopted in order to meet the objection to the extension of the franchise without some limit of the number of women voters. That is perfectly notorious, and there is no secret about it. That is the reason why the age limit of thirty was introduced, in order to avoid extending the franchise to a very large number of women, for fear they might be in a majority in the electorate of this country. It was for that reason only, and it had nothing to do with their qualifications at all. No one would seriously suggest that a woman of twenty-five is less capable of giving a vote than a woman of thirty-five. The only question is whether the reason which applied to the limit of the number of voters applies also to Members of the House of Commons. You have merely to state it to see the answer. The object of this Bill, if it is approved at all, must be approved because it throws open a larger choice to the electors of the country. It enables them to choose, if they think right, women who are not disqualified by other legal disqualifications for membership of this House. Therefore, with all respect, I do not think there is anything in that point. Then it is said that if you do not put in some limit of age, a woman of eighteen might be elected. My right hon. Friend opposite (Sir F. Banbury) went on to point out that in fact men of eighteen or nineteen years of age have been elected, and he quoted the well-known instances of Charles James Fox—not a very conclusive condemnation of the system, after all—and of Lord John Russell, neither of whom were wholly undistinguished Members of this House. But, as a matter of fact, you have a legislative enactment which the right hon. Baronet read out, and which I freely admit I had forgotten. I thought the disqualification rested entirely on the common law. He points out that there is a legislative enactment, saying that no person under twenty-one shall be elected. You cannot do more than that. If you put it into this Bill you could not make it any stronger. There it is, it exists, and the Legislature has enacted that disqualification. This Bill provides that there shall not be a disqualification on account of sex. It leaves all the other disqualifications exactly as they were. Therefore it seems to be quite clear that no woman under twenty-one years of age will be entitled to be elected. I hope I have dealt with the arguments put forward in this case. To my mind it would be quite illogical and absurd to limit the choice of the electors to women over the age of thirty, if they are to be allowed to choose them at all. The right hon. Baronet was quite inaccurate in saying that I rested the case for this change on the ground that since women had got the vote, therefore they ought to be elected, in the sense that only those women who had the vote ought to be elected. What I said was that since you had swept away the disqualification of sex in the matter of the electors, there was no ground for maintaining it in the matter of Members of Parliament. That is true. I still think that is a sound proposition. For these reasons I am sorry to say I cannot accept the Amendment.

I am very glad the Noble Lord has taken up the line he has done. A more unreasonable proposal than that before the Committee I have never listened to. There is quite as strong an argument as any for rejecting the proposal, namely, that when you allow a person to become an elector, every person who has that qualification becomes an elector by right, but when you consider the qualification of persons to be elected, that is not the case. They are not elected as a right; they have still to obtain the assent of a very large number of people. It might well be that persons between twenty-one and thirty would not be fit to exercise the franchise, because it might be thought that the vast majority of them were unfit to be electors; yet at the same time it is quite conceivable that the persons the electors would select would be quite fit to sit in this House. There is no logical argument whatever in suggesting that the qualification to vote, which is a matter of right, and the qualification to be elected, ought to be the same. One is a question of what you do of your own free will; the other is a question of whether a large body of, say, some 30,000 or 40,000 of your fellow-citizens select you for a particular situation. I am glad the Government are standing for the principle that it is the electors and not Members of this House who are to decide who can and who cannot come here.

7 0 P.M.

Will my Noble Friend guarantee, supposing this Amendment is rejected and this Bill becomes law, that there will not be a demand to reduce the age qualification for voting from thirty to twenty-one? He nods at that. He will not do that. It was perhaps a rather impossible question to put to him, for he may not have sufficient influence to prevent women doing this thing. But will he oppose any such proposal?

When such a proposal comes forward I shall deal with it upon its merits, as I am sure the right hon. Baronet will do.

Does not my Noble Friend think that if he admits the Amendment to qualify a woman for a seat in Parliament below the age of thirty it will precipitate a movement that she shall be allowed to vote at the age of twenty-one?

I venture to appeal to my hon. Friend not to press this somewhat ungallant self-denying Amendment. It is not reasonable that we should deprive the women of the satisfaction of sitting at any age. A man may do so, and why should women not have the same qualification? I rather admire the stoical way in which the Noble Lord took the strong cross-examination directed at him by the hon. Baronet. I have no doubt he is fully supplied with the information which was asked for and I assume it will be forthcoming at the appropriate time. I hope the hon. Baronet will not press this disqualification, seeing that men are not subject to it.

Amendment negatived.

I beg, to move, after the word "woman" ["A woman"], to insert the words, "other than a woman holding in her own right a peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom."

I want really to discover how the law is going to stand when this Bill has been passed. This is really rather a good example of the inconvenience of having followed the Noble Lord's plan of introducing a single Bill dealing with the Membership of both Houses of Parliament. I would like to ask the Noble Lord to tell me whether it requires an Act of Parliament to enable women to sit in another place or whether anything more is necessary than a Resolution passed in that other place? It is rather important we should know when we are considering what we are going to do as regards the Membership of this House.

Yes; the Amendment on the Order Paper. What I want to know is, what will be the position if this Bill passes as it stands?-How will it affect ladies who hold peerages in their own right?

It appears to me there is some danger under this Bill of making these Peeresses eligible to sit in both Houses of Parliament, and I think we ought now to make it quite plan that Peeresses in their own right shall not, by this Act, become eligible for Membership of this House.

I do not quite understand on what ground the hon. Member puts this disqualification of women unless it is that they have a seat in another place. I agree that no person should be entitled to sit in both Houses of Parliament. That, indeed, is a principle which is generally admitted, but I think it would not be right to exclude women from this House, unless it is quite certain that they are eligible for the other House. I hope the hon. Member will not press his Amendment. If in the course of the passage of this Bill changes are made which will include these women in the other House, some Amendment will then become necessary.

I want to prevent not only the possibility of one person sitting in both Houses of Parliament, but of any person exercising the option to do so. Take the case of a lady holding a Scottish Peerage. Is there anything whatever to prevent such a lady being a candidate for this House? Her position is rather different from that of an English Peer. The English Peer by constitutional custom can never sit in this House. I understand the Scottish Peer is only prevented sitting here by Statute. The Irish Peer is in a different position. I understand there are no Irish Peeresses—[An HON. MEMBER: "There are two!"]—and, therefore, it is practically impossible for the question to be raised in the case of Ireland. I imagine it would not necessarily follow that the statutory instruction with regard to Scottish Peers sitting here would apply to Peeresses. I therefore think the effect of passing this Bill as it stands would probably be that Scottish Peeresses would become eligible for English and Irish constituencies.

An Irish Peer now can be elected for this House. They are eligible for membership of it. Lord Palmerston's case is an instance in point.

I believe we have an example at the present time, but we shall be identifying ourselves with an extraordinary anomaly. A Scottish Peeress might be elected to this House, whereas a Scottish Peer could not be. It seems to me that this is a point which ought to be cleared up. It is quite possible the matter might become the subject of legal proceedings. Whatever may be the decision of another place, surely it would be better here to make it absolutely clear so that there can be no doubt whatever! I submit to the Noble Lord it would be well to make it clear that ladies holding Peerages in their own right should not be free to come here. Let us lay it down one way or the other and not leave the point in a state of absolute obscurity and unsettlement.

I think this point really needs a little more consideration. I understand my hon. Friend wishes to get rid of the possibility of ladies being elected to this House at their own choice. How does the matter stand? If I am correct—and I speak subject to correction—a lady who holds a Peerage of the United Kingdom, whilst she may not be able to sit in the House of Lords, is prevented absolutely being elected to this House because she is for all practical purposes a Peer of the realm and the disability which applies to Peers applies equally to her. Then we come to the Scottish Peers. Their case is provided for by the Act of Union. This is not merely a statutory disability imposed by some Act of Parliament, but it depends on the Act of Union, and under the Act of Union a certain number of Scottish Peers, and only a certain number, can be elected to sit in the House of Lords. If a lady holds a Scottish Peerage she is a Peer, she would have her chance and right of election as a representative Peer along with other Scottish Peers; but unless she secures election in that way she would not be able to take her seat. Is she to be under the disability to sit in this House? Then we come to the case of the Irish Peers. That also depends on the Act of Union with Ireland. If a lady holds an Irish Peerage she would have first to secure election as one of the representative Irish Peers before being able to take her seat in the House of Lords, but if she does not secure election, then it is possible that her disability as a Peeress would disappear, and she would be able to submit herself for election to this House. That being so, does the hon. Member wish to lay down that in no case shall an Irish Peeress be allowed to be elected to this House so long as she has not been elected as a representative Peer for Ireland? I should have thought that my hon. Friend was possessed of too liberal tendencies to wish to place the lady under such a disability. I understand there are, in fact, two Irish Peerages which pass in the female line. Is it suggested that ladies holding those Peerages should be placed under this disability? I repeat this matter needs more consideration, because many statutes require to be looked into before the point can be decided.

If I were sure the law is precisely what the hon. and learned Gentleman has stated I should be quite satisfied, but I do not think his view of the law is precisely the same as that of the Noble Lord, who seems to think that my Amendment is not a good one, and that these ladies ought to be allowed to be elected to this House. In view of the exposition of the law we have had I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

We come now to a series of Amendments which are intended to raise a question with regard to the other House. I think it will be much more convenient, and in better form, if the Amendment is moved at the end of the words of the existing Clause. The hon. Baronet comes nearest to the right form as I suggest that he should move to add at the end of the Clause, the words "or for receiving a writ of summons to attend and sit and vote in the House of Lords."

I beg to move, at the end, to add the words

"or for receiving a writ of summons to attend and sit and vote in the House of Lords."
I am somewhat surprised that my Noble Friend, who is not lacking in audacity, should bring in this what might be called half measure. Why he has confined his Parliamentary (Qualification of Women) Bill entirely to Members of the House of Commons I am at loss to understand, and I think that is the view of a good many Members of the House. If women are not to be disqualified by sex or marriage from being elected or sitting and voting as Members of the Commons House of Parliament, I should like to know what reason he can adduce why they should not receive a writ of summons to attend and sit and vote in the House of Lords. I am certain he does not imagine that life in the House of Lords is more strenuous than life in the House of Commons. Does he imagine that it would be a greater hardship for a woman to get a summons to sit in the House of Lords than it is for her to go through a contested election? Surely that cannot be the reason. As my Noble Friend has always been a champion of the other House, surely, if he considers that it is advisable and that this House would be improved by women becoming Members of it, he will not deprive the House of Lords, for which he has the greatest respect and which has been most useful to him in times gone past, of the privilege of having women Members. But it goes even further than that. Peeresses in their own right will be placed in my opinion in a very embarrassing position. Take the case of Viscountess Rhondda who has recently become in her own right a Viscountess of the United Kingdom. Is she to be deprived, because adequate provisions have not been made in this measure, of the opportunity of sitting in the House of Lords. It raises, to a certain extent, the point raised by my hon. Friend (Mr. Holt). Viscountess Rhondda, who would be qualified to become a Member of Parliament if any lady was, from her experience in business and other matters, according to this Bill would not be qualified to sit in the House of Lords, and I ask the Noble Lord whether she would be entitled to become a Member of this House?

If this Bill is passed and you confine it to the Commons House of Parliament, not only will it be placing a certain number of women at a great disadvantage but you will be depriving the House of Lords of the advantage which the Noble Lord wishes to confer on this House. The Noble Lord understands the other House as well, and better perhaps, than any other Member of this House. Naturally he should do so from his past associations. It may be that while in favour of the Amendment he has hesitated to put it forward in his Bill because he is somewhat doubtful of the reception it will meet with in the House of Lords. I quite agree that the House of Lords cannot reject this Bill, although they will not like it. It is a logical conclusion of the franchise, and the Second Reading was passed unanimously, but I think the Noble Lord will agree with me that if the Amendment is inserted the Bill may not have the smooth passage he would desire in the other place. That is a matter to which I do not think we should pay much attention. Are women more unqualified to sit in the House of Lords than in the House of Commons? That is the issue we have to face. I shall be very interested to know why the Noble Lord has not inserted this provision in the Bill. It has been decided that women shall be qualified to sit in the House of Commons; and there can be no possible plausible argument brought forward why they should not have the same privilege when they are Peeresses in their own right from sitting in the House of Lords. Therefore, I hope my Noble Friend will take his courage in both hands, accept the Amendment and make his Bill a complete Bill.

I think I may have discovered the Noble Lord's reason for not putting the Amendment in the Bill. It is that he thought it would come much better from the House of Commons than from himself, and consequently, if the Committee is allowed a free vote on the question I do not think there can be much doubt that it will decide that what is good for us is also good for the other House. I trust, therefore, that as Women Suffrage has been dealt with in the past without putting on the Government Whips, the Noble Lord may be able to leave this Amendment to be dealt with in the same manner. If he does that I think the House of Lords will pay respect to it, and will probably treat themselves as they find we have treated ourselves here. Perfect equality demands an Amendment of this kind. I would certainly not lose the Bill for the sake of the Amendment—that is the last thing in the world I would desire—but I cannot think we should do that. The Amendment will be considered in the Lords, it will get there with all the weight of an almost unanimous decision of the House of Commons in its favour, and if the Lords decide to get rid of it, I do not think that will affect the safety of the Bill. Consequently, I think the Committee ought to put the Amendment in and leave it to the Lords to take it out if they think fit.

I approach this Amendment with the greatest sympathy for the general point of view which has prompted its proposal. There is something very attractive about saying there is no reason in the world why women should not sit in the House of Lords as well as in the House of Commons, and primâ facie I should myself agree to that as a general proposition. But when you come to look at it closely it is not quite the same thing. As far as the House of Commons is concerned, what you are doing is to say that any woman who secures the suffrage of her fellow-citizens in the constituency shall not be excluded by her sex from the House of Commons. You are opening the door wider to the choice of the electorate. If you make it apply to the House of Lords you are doing rather a different thing. You are there placing, by the operation of the Bill, a certain number of women in that House. I am told there are about twenty or thirty Peeresses in their own right. They would thereupon, by the passage of this Bill, be made members of the Legislature. That is a different proposition. It may be an equally good one, but it is different from removing the disqualification to be elected by the electors of this country. It seems to me a kind of proposition which might arouse a great deal of opposition in another place. The hon. Baronet (Sir C. Henry) did not think it necessary to conceal the fact that that was his main reason for putting it forward.

One of his reasons for putting it forward. It is rather important that the Committee should recognise that the hon. Baronet should have moved the Amendment having in view, to put it in the mildest way possible, that if he can secure its insertion it may imperil the chances of the Bill in another place.

The hon. Baronet need not interrupt about that. The Committee heard him. What I rather feel about it is that when you are going to make what would really be a considerable change in the composition of the other House they have a right to say they ought to be the people to do it. It would be a very natural thing for any of us, if we happened to be members of it, to say ourselves. Peers are very much like everyone else, and I suppose they would say it, and if they said it, one must not conceal from oneself the fact that there is a very large body of opinion in that House which has always been very doubtful about the desirability of giving women voters political power. It is not possible that the two currents would coalesce and induce the other House to refuse to pass the Bill? On the other hand, what do we risk who are in favour of the change, as I am myself? If we put the Amendment in and there is a majority in the other House against it, they may reject it altogether, but they would at the very least strike it out, and I am quite sure this House would not be prepared to risk the fate of the Bill on the question whether they would insist on the Amendment. Therefore, if there is a majority against it in the other House, we may not succeed in carrying the Bill at all. If, on the other hand, there is a majority in its favour, there is no doubt whatever that the proposition would be put forward in the other House and it would be inserted in the Bill. Therefore, it seems to me, looking at it merely from the point of view of a friend of the Bill—

Politics is very largely a question of expediency. Looking at it from the point of view of a friend of the Bill, it seems to me that if you insert this Amendment you do not materially increase or very seriously increase the chance of achieving the purpose of the Amendment, but you do increase the risk of the success of the Bill. Under these circumstances, after giving very careful and, I think, perfectly impartial consideration to the matter during the period which has elapsed since the Bill was read a second time, I strongly advise the House not to accept the Amendment.

I would like to ask my hon. Friends not to press this Amendment, for a reason which has not been adduced, but which, I think, will commend itself to them. If I am not mistaken, they are both Members who in normal times would have been in favour of very drastic remedies being applied to the constitution of the Second Chamber. Is it wise at this time to attempt to tinker with its constitution? It is far better to leave the other House to make such proposals as they may think fit, undisturbed by any suggestion on our part, and then judge of those proposals when their lordships have dealt with them. If this Amendment were carried, it would be construed, and would be used, without the slightest doubt, as sanctioning the extention of the hereditary principle in the Legislature—the right to legislate on the ground of heredity. On all these grounds, and having regard to the fact that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment entertain much wider views in regard to the Second Chamber, it would be much better, from the point of reform, to leave the Bill as it stands.

As one who spoke in favour of our inserting this proposal, I think it only right to say that I have been very much impressed by the argument just adduced by the Noble Lord. I think it really is conclusive; and, speaking personally, I should be quite prepared to leave it to the House of Lords to insert it themselves, as I hope they will do. I hope there will be no Division in this House. If we prefer not to state our view that it ought to be put in, I hope we shall not state our view that it ought not to be put in. Therefore, I would ask my hon. Friend to withdraw the Motion.

My hon. Friend (Colonel Greig) thinks that this Amendment would be an extension of the hereditary principle of the House of Lords. I do not agree with that. These Peeresses who would go to the House of Lords would not go in an hereditary character, because they are Peeresses in their own right. Therefore, I think the hon. Member will agree with me that that point of his argument does not carry much weight. Like him, I am strongly in favour of a reform of the Second Chamber. I think I am right in my deduction that the Noble Lord, in the interests of his Bill, thinks it better not to insert this Amendment. He thinks it is quite possible that he might lose his Bill if the Amendment is inserted. Personally, I should not be afraid if it is withdrawn; I will say that quite frankly. However, under the circumstances, and as I do not seem to get much support, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ( Short Title) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.