HC Deb 27 November 1917 vol 99 cc1945-6

This Act may be cited as the Coal Mines Control Agreement (Confirmation) Act, 1917.


I beg to move, to leave out the words, "Agreement (Confirmation)."

As there is no agreement, this is ultra wires. You cannot confirm a thing that does not exist. It is outside the power of the Mining Association to deal with a question of this sort. The parties entering into this agreement had no business to do so; they had no authority.


As the Government do not seem to have considered this Amend- ment I think it is quite worthy of consideration. These words suggest that what we are doing is confirming an agreement. This Bill is not confirming an agreement at all but fixing the terms of the agreement for other people who have never assented to it. Is it not better to call the Bill what it ought to be called, "The Coal Mines Control Bill," and not an Agreement (Confirmation) Bill? These words are an abuse of the English language. We have it set forth in the Preamble of the Bill that there has been an agreement, and so forth. It puts me in mind of the Preambles of the Tudor Statutes. A. well-known historian is said to have written the history of the Tudor period from the Preamble of the Tudor Statutes, and that is alleged to have been the reason of the inaccuracy of his history, and any historian who in future writes the history of the coal control from the Preamble of this Bill will be misled into believing that there has been an agreement. It is our duty to the historian of the future not to lead him into this trap. There will be a sufficient number of traps for him, owing to the censorship and all the misleading steps that have been taken. Why should we lay a trap for the honest man who in the future desires to give a true and accurate account of the industrial methods which were adopted in carrying on this great War? For reasons of historic accuracy, which ought to appeal to the Solicitor-General, I trust that he will accept this Amendment.


My reply, at any rate, will be short. I submit that this short Title is perfectly accurate for the reason that this Bill is a confirmation of the agreement.

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.