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MACHYNLLETH. Mr Meredith Roberts. THE CAUSE THE COLONEL FIGHTS FOR. The Chairman ebserved that, as soon as they heard about the-well, somewhat long delayed, final conversion of their late member- --(laughter) —the Machynlleth people with oae voice said, Mr Humphreys-Owen is the one for us!" (loud cheers). Now he was amongst them ready for the fray, in a fighting spirit, and be intended retaining the Montgomery Boroughs with a greatly increased majority (hear, hear). "Mr Humphreys-Owen will fight for us, the people, against that great obstacle, the House of Lords (hear, hear). We have on the other hand, fighting for the cause of the Houae of Lords' Colonel Pryce-Jones. It is for us to decide who shall govern the country, whether it will be the Lords or ourselves-the people." Mr D. Edward Davies moved the following resolution in English and Welsh "That this meeting desires to express its unabated confidence in the present Government, and trusts it will at the close of the General Election be returned to power with a greater majority to support it in its beneficent work of furthering the interests of the people as against privilege and class interest." The Rev Thomas James seconded, also in Welsh, urging that the Government ought to be returned to power with a splendid majority that will settle the Lords once and for all." Mr. W. J. Evans, WHY HE HAD NOT SPOKEN BEFORE With rousing cheers the audience greeted the first appearance of Mr William John Evans on a political platform in Montgomeryshire. In a concise twenty minutes' speech, he said:- There ia one thing I should like to say at the very outset, and that is that in the candidature of Mr Humphreys-Owen he will have the very hearty support of Mr David Davies (loud cheers). I mention that because I have heard it suggested that Mr Davies will not assist Mr Humphreys- Owen. Need teas to say, that suggestion comes from the other side (laughter). He would have been here to-night, but he has bad to go to South Wales in connection with that huge National Memorial, that we are undertaking, upon which I we count for your support, So that in a sense I am his substitute, and a very unworthv one. Now, this is the first political that I have ever addressed in Wales. I have done! similar work in London, but never iu Wales! before. And I feel a peculiar pleasure that I -Machynlleth should be my first meeting (cheers). I At the last election there were several reasons why I didn't take th6 floor. One of them was that my mind and hands were fully occupied in other directions, as you can imagine. But there was another reason-I was not particularly sorry, so far as the Boroughs were concerned—(laugh- ter),-became, let me be perfectly frank with you, I had no very exalted admiration for your late member (laughter). The veil which he lifted about a year ago, he has removed altogether now, and rather shamelessly.-(A Voice: Hear, hear). WELSH POLITICAL GRATITUDE. A few months ago we sent to Lord Rendel-(Ioud cheers)—one of our memento cards, and I should like to read to you an extract out of his charac- teristic reply: "A Welsh virtue is political gratitude. Indeed, I doubt whether Wales does not stand alone in the possession of that gratitude. Their political gratitude is part of the larger feeling for the good deeds rf their forbears, which strongly marks the Welsh race." But there is another virtue he might very well have mentioned; it is the virtue of political con- sistency and political constancy (hear, hear). We don't ask you to support Mr Humphreys-Owen solely because of the debt of gratitude which we owe and never can repay to his father (hear, hear). We ask you to give him your whole- hearted support, first, because of the sound Liberal principles he stands for, and, secondly, because we know him to be a man of exceptional ability and sincerity, and a man who will be a distinct acquisition to the already able men in the Welsh Party (hear, hear, and cheers). You were told at the last election that the most important issue was the question of the House of Lords. Now if that wad the most important issue last January, it is ten times more important now (hear, hear). We have done our best to come to an agreement in a Conference; 21 meetings were held; and they came to nothing. One thing you may be perfectly well assured-if the Conser- vatives gain a major.ty at this election, whereas the House of Lords before chastised us with whips, they will afterwards do so with scorpions (laughter and cheers). THE PEER AND THE DOCTOR: A CONTRAST. Shall we examine the constitution of the House of Lords and afterwards the record of their work? With regard to the constitution, you probably all know that it consists of about 616 members, and of that number about 44 are Scottish and Irish peers, 26 are Episcopal peers, and the bulk, in fact you may say the whole with the excep- tion of a few, are hereditary legislators. In other words, a man has an absolute right to legislate in the affairs of this country simply because he has condescended to be born (laughter), Just examine how stupid that would be from any other point of view. Imagine a man sending for a doctor. The doctor has died. His eldest son turns up and wants to doctor him. The man says, Have you any qualification?" "No," he says, "but I believe in the doctrine of heredity" (laughter). Oh says the man, I'm not going to have you fiddling with my constitution (laughter). What will be the result? Well, if the young man's name were Milner, he would say, Oh damn the consequences!" (laughter and cheers). So much for the heieditary aspect. But let me go further than that. We have heard a lot of talk about their ability. I have oeen at some pains now and again to examine the list of- the principal speakers at one of their full-dress debates. You will find the same names time after time, and with one or two exceptions you will find that their most brilliant men are not the hereditary men, but the men who have been made Peers for work done. I refer to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Cromer, Lord Curzon, Lord James of Hereford, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lord Milner, and others. AN M.P. AND A PEER: THE DIFFERENCE. But the principal objection in the constitution of the House of Lords must surely be their irresponsibility. If a member of the House of Commons does not behave himself, if he does not turn up, well, then, his constituents have some- thing very important to say, and an instance of that was given rather more than a year ago, when to use a phrase that has been used lately—Mr J. D. Rees had "to toe the line" (laughter). But with the House of Lords there is no such respon- sibility. A man can either turn up or he need not. And as a matter of fact very few of them do turn up at an ordinary sitting. If you were to go to the House of Lords on the occasion of art ordinary debate, you would find extremely few there. But you would see a number of red-leather benches; everything1 would be extremely dull; you would occasionally hear the dull monotone of the Chancellor saying in a sleepy kind of way, Those who are in favour will say 'Content'; those who are not will say Non-content. And then he says, I think the contents have it." That is the sort of routine that goes on generally during an ordinary debate, when they are not called together to defend their own interests. 3 PEERS OUT OF 616 A QUORUM! One of their most brilliant men, Lord Rosebery, said that on one occasion he was present in the House of Lords when a noble lord addressed him and two others for four hours by the clock (laughter). And Lord Ellenborough put Lord Rosebery right, and said, Pardon me, my lord, I was there for part of the time!" (laughter). Lord Rosebery in his inimitable way said, "I should correct myself. Lord Ellenborough has said he was there only partially. I therefore correct myself and say there were 31 peers present" (laughter). On another occasion he gave an instance of the Lord Chancellor and one othe- peer being present. The Lord Chancellor wanted to attend a dinner; the other peer wanted to make a speech (laughter). He made a speech and eventually the Lord Chancellor had-to use the technical expression—to count him out" because I may tell you that the quorum of the House of Lords is 3 (sensation). In other words, it is possible for three here- ditary legislators to counterbalance the whole weight of public opinion expressed through their representatives in the House of Commons (cries of Shame! ") I ask you if you can expect anything other than what you get from them ? llanllhted. o¡;, THEY HOLD ONE-THIRD OF THE LAND. But let us turn to their record. The Budget, which they threw out, is not the only thing on which we are attacking them. That was the cul- minating point, the last straw, which proberbially breaks backs. But their record before then was bad. You may safely assume that the Lords are opposed to any drastic reforms. And I don't con- demn them at all for that. I condemn ourselves for tolerating such a prehistoric system (hear, hear). If you or I were in similar positions we should probably act in precisely the same way, and it is as illogical to say that all the brains are in the House of Lords because of the ability of one or two as it is to coademn the whole House of Lords because a few are not what they should be. But it is the system that we condemn, and not the individuals merely because they are lords. The point is whether we are justified in having the whole government of the country controlled by one class, whatever that class may be.








Mr. Haydn Jones.