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Honours List

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 21 June 1922

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53.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will appoint a Joint Committee of both Houses to review the present Departmental procedure in submitting names for the Honours List?

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware of the growing dissatisfaction in this House and outside in regard to the way in which these Honours Lists are made up?

I have, been a long time in this House and at recurrent intervals I have heard dissatisfaction expressed, and have known allegations to be made, which, for the most part, I believe have been entirely unfounded. I do not know that this Government should hope to escape the fate which has befallen most of its predecessors.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think, in that case, that the time has not really arrived for a full inquiry into these complaints which have constantly been expressed, with more or less foundation?

Personally I do not think that an inquiry by a Select Committee, or a Joint Committee of the two Houses, into the exercise of the prerogative is desirable.

Would it not he possible to indicate when announcing the honours the services for which they have been given?

Will the right hon. Gentleman give facilities for a discussion into the allegations made? There is great feeling in this matter. Would it not be much better that it should be ventilated rather than suppressed?

I should like to know exactly what my hon. and gallant Friend means by "ventilated"? It has been ventilated pretty freely—at any rate, charges have been made pretty freely. I am not prepared, in present circumstances, to offer special facilities, and I am somewhat doubtful whether there is a general wish for them.

What steps are taken to investigate the private characters of those persons whom everybody knows ought not to be submitted?

Well, I am rather inclined to think that what everybody knows is apt to be a very false guide.

How does it happen that nearly always it is only rich men who are made peers?

If my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the lists of peers for the last ten years, I do not think he will find that that is borne out?

Perhaps the Noble Lord will allow the hon. and gallant Gentleman to put his own question in his own way. I think my hon. and gallant Friend will find that these allegations are not sustained.

Is it not the fact that there has always been supposed to be a very strong connection between the Honours List and the party funds, and will the right hon. Gentleman allow the House to have a discussion on the matter?

I am not prepared to provide special facilities for this or many other questions for which I am asked to provide special facilities, to the abandonment of Government business for the day, in order to enable some section of the House to raise a question in which they are interested—

If the action of the Prime Minister be challenged, the House can ask for the salary of my right hon. Friend to be put down, and can challenge his actions—

It is in order to challenge the action of the Prime Minister upon the salary of the Prime Minister—the Noble Lord no doubt knows better than I do—but I should have thought it would have been in order to challenge the action of the Prime Minister, or the advice he tenders to the Crown, upon his salary. It is not possible for me—

This is a case where the prerogative comes in. It has been the rule that it is not possible, on the Prime Minister's salary, to raise questions about advice given to the Sovereign on these matters.

If that be so, Sir, then I think it would be a very grave matter for me to make a breach of the rule a special opportunity for such a discussion. Apart from that, it is quite impossible for me to give all these special opportunities. Hardly a day passes when which I am asked by some section of the House to allot a day, at the expense of the Government business for which we have been called together.

May I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether as a matter of order, the only way of raising this question is not by direct Motion in the House?

I think that would be the case, though I am not quite clear as to the form the Noble Lord suggests. I am sure it is the duty of the Chair to uphold the rule with regard to the prerogative.