HC Deb 06 December 1906 vol 166 cc1271-3


Order for the Second Reading read.


formally moved the Second Reading of this Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now road a second time."

*MR. CLOUGH (Yorkshire, W.R., Skipton) moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. He knew that the House was very anxious to get on to the discussion of the Education (Provision of Meals) Bill, but he felt bound to oppose the measure now before the House because of two sentences in the Attorney-Generals speech in introducing the Bill. The Attorney-General had declared, "What would be the consequences of that decision (of the Court of King's Bench) one does not need an active imagination to foresee. In the first place, the Act of 1904 is a dead letter." It was because the Act of 1904 was now invalid and a dead letter that he wished it to remain so. The whole Act, according to the right hon. Gentleman, had been thrown overboard. He suggested they should leave it there, and not launch a lifeboat to save it. He did not see why there should be this undue haste to rectify this slipshod legislation of the last Government. The present Leader of the Opposition did not take very hasty steps to remove the doubts after the Taff Vale judgment. He did not introduce a measure straight away to remove doubts with regard to trade disputes. With regard to the Education Act, when passive resistance was rampant throughout the land, and when imprisonment was the rule from one end of the country to the other, the late Prime Minister did not introduce a measure to appease these passive resistors— he did not introduce an Education (Removal of Doubts) Bill. He did not see why they should interfere with this legislation, which had been so carelessly framed by the late Government, and was causing so much chaos and litigation at the present time. Let it go on. It was because he objected to this departure on the part of the present Government in bolstering up the hasty class legislation of the last Government, and in riveting the shackles upon public opinion which were imposed upon it by the 1904 Act, that he moved the rejection of the Bill.

MR. G. A. HARDY (Suffolk, Stowmarket)

seconded the Amendment. He said the original measure was a badly drafted Bill. It was one which they had all opposed on that side of the House, and it was pressed through without discussion by means of the guillotine.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Mr. Clough.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said he was sure his hon. friend behind him would not expect a lengthy reply. Let him remind the House that the object of this Bill was not to alter the original Act. It was simply to determine what the object of that Bill was, and to determine it in no other sense than that in which they all wished the law to be declared, namely, the sense in which it was declared by the Act of 1904. If that legislation was wrong, let the House amend it, or alter it, and have the courage to say that it was wrong. The object of the Bill was not to alter the law, but to make it plain what the House, rightly or wrongly, meant to do in 1904. The Government had bolstered up nothing, had altered nothing, and supported nothing. They had only indicated in terms which he hoped would now be made sufficiently plain, so that they could be understood by every tribunal in the country, exactly what the House meant in 1904, and he thought it was a legitimate object of legislation for the House to correct misunderstandings which might have arisen by the interpretation of statutes by the Courts of law. He would say one word in conclusion which might be some consolation to his hon. friend. The Home Secretary had on the stocks a Bill dealing with the whole of the licensing question, and his hon. friend's views, and the views of the trade, would receive due consideration in the preparation of that Bill.