HC Deb 15 May 1916 vol 82 cc1312-4

The Central Tribunal may grant leave to appeal from a decision of an Appeal Tribunal.—[Mr. Whitehouse.]

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


Before the next Clause is moved, may I, for the convenience of the House, say this: It is now 1.30 a.m., and it is quite obvious that we cannot proceed with all the Amendments on the Paper this morning, for the reason that we shall deal with three or four very important questions which were dealt with last week in the early hours of the morning. The Government are extremely anxious that the case with regard to them should be met at a time when it can receive full publicity, because there is some—no doubt unintentional, but none the less very mischievous—misrepresentation as to our action in regard to certain parts of the Bill. In these circumstances, if the House is good enough to finish the new Clauses and to take the first Amendment on the Paper, we shall not ask them to proceed further.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

I can put the case for this Clause in a word or two. It is an improvement in the machinery of the Act, designed to remove some of the injustices which occur at present. The Appeal Tribunal may grant leave to appeal. There is, however, a great difference in the practice observed by the different Appeal Tribunals, and the inequalities and injustices which follow can be remedied in some degree if the Central Tribunal has power to grant leave to appeal from a decision of an Appeal Tribunal. Therefore, I beg to move this Clause, in the hope that the Government will not take it controversially, but will see that some of the difficulties which we have been discussing during the past few days would be removed if the Central Tribunal could grant leave to appeal from a decision of an Appeal Tribunal.


I beg to second the Motion.


I think it must be obvious that this Clause cannot be accepted. It really means this, that the Central Tribunal would have to hear every case where the applicant desired to appeal before them, and would have to decide whether there could be an appeal to themselves or not. It would mean, in practice, that every dissatisfied applicant would appeal to the Central Appeal Tribunal for leave to appeal to them, and it would be impossible for them, to decide the case until they had heard the case themselves and had decided whether there was reasonable ground for appeal or not. Then they would have to hear the case over again. So it practically means two hearings by the Central Appeal Tribunal, and I am sure my hon. Friend opposite (Sir G. Younger), who is a member of that body, will confirm what I say when I tell the House that they already have enough to do, and we should have to create at least two or three more Central Tribunals, and this is not the way to do it.


Might I corroborate what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. The Central Tribunal has, at present, a very large number of appeals of this kind, which were allowed to come on now. We have always regarded this as a most serious part of our duty. Two members have to read through the whole of the papers before they are presented by one or other of them to the tribunal. It would be perfectly ludicrous and impossible for them to undertake these duties, and I do not think you would find that there would be many members of the Central Tribunal left by the end of a week.


It may be that in the form in which it appears on the Paper this new Clause is not entirely workable, but there is, at any rate, this difficulty with regard to the question of appeal. That is that the Appeal Tribunal which thus decides a man's case, also decides whether a man can appeal further, and they feel in many cases that that is more or less a reflection on them.


No. They generally allow an appeal on some point of law in connection with the case, or some new point that arises. There is never any kind of reflection upon them.


I am afraid that view is not always taken in the common-sense way the hon. Baronet has indicated, and it would be well, sometimes, if there were this right of appeal, even over the heads of the Appeal Tribunal if need be, if some very important point were involved. I agree that it would be very difficult indeed to throw the whole onus and burden of this on to the Central Tribunal, but some way ought to be found of dealing with the matter.

Question put, and negatived.