asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will introduce at an early date and pass through all its stages a Bill amending the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which will enable peeresses in their own right to sit and vote in the House of Lords?
The question whether peeresses in their own right should sit and vote in the House of Lords was fully debated during the passage through Parliament of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919, and the House of Lords on more than one occasion declined to accept proposals that the Bill should enable them to sit. I have every reason to suppose that the House of Lords would, if a Bill were presented to them, adhere to the opinion which they then held, and I should not think myself justified in the present state of Parliamentary business in introducing legislation which would, in my opinion, have no chance of passing into law.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the admission of women into the House of Lords should be included in the proposals for the reform of the House of Lords which are shortly to be laid before the House?
I will not give that pledge, but obviously any proposals for the reform of the House of Lords will raise the question whether women will be eligible or not.
If the right hon. Gentleman agrees with the generally expressed idea that wives are the greatest help-mates of man, would he not agree that women should be allowed to sit in the House of Lords?
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the postponement of the discussion on the House of Lords' Resolutions owing to the illness of Lord Curzon, whether the Government will publish the Resolutions at once so as to obtain the full benefit of discussion in the public Press and elsewhere?
No, Sir, we are not prepared to adopt this course.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think there is much good in reforming the House of Lords unless at the same time he will do something to alter the relations between the two Houses?
No, Sir. I think there would be no use in doing the one without the other.
Am I right in saying that the Government policy, as outlined in reference to the Prime Minister's speech on Genoa, is to have criticism first and to make a reply afterwards Would they not like to hear the criticisms first before making speeches?
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to introduce a Bill for the purpose of altering the relations between the two Houses?
No, Sir. The Government have already stated that they propose to proceed in the first instance by Resolution—a Resolution affording, as we hope, ground of agreement on which to found a Bill.
Would it not be advantageous to have the criticisms first and then for the leaders in the House of Lords to make their speeches?
Perhaps I am perplexed by the introduction of Genoa. This is a reference merely to the Resolution in the House of Lords. It appears to the Government that it would be con- venient that, as soon as possible after the tabling of the Resolution in the House of Lords, the preliminary discussion in the House of Lords should take place, in which the Leader of the House can explain the views of the Government in relation to the Resolution.
May we expect the Resolution to be introduced in another place before the end of the present Session?
Oh, yes, Sir; certainly. I cannot give a day at the present moment, but communications are proceeding or are about to take place between the representatives of the Government in the other House and leading Members of that House as to the date and the circumstances in which the Resolution should be moved.
May we expect that event to take place within a month from now, or before the end of June?
I cannot say definitely. What I said a couple of days ago was that I had some reason to believe that leading Members in the House of Lords would wish the Resolution to be moved by the Leader of that House, if that be possible. That would involve a certain delay, and the communications will be directed to ascertaining whether the general sense of the other place is in favour of waiting till my Noble Friend, Lord Curzon, can speak—whether that House would prefer to wait for him, or whether they would prefer an earlier day, when the Resolution would have to be in the hands of another of my colleagues.
Will it be before the Autumn Recess? [HON. MEMBERS: "That has been answered!"]