HC Deb 18 November 1919 vol 121 cc445-53

Any Orders or Rules made under this Act shall be laid before both Houses of Parliaments as soon as may be after they are made and shall have effect as if enacted in this Act.

Provided that, if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Order or Rule is laid before it praying that the Order or Rule may be annulled, His Majesty in council may annul the Order or Rule and it shall thenceforth be void but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder. Any Order or Rule made under this Act shall not be deemed to be a Statutory Rule within the meaning of Section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893.—[Mr. G. Locker-Lampson.]

Brought up, and read the first time


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

I think this Amendment is important from the point of view of Parliamentary control. Under Clause 4 the Minister has power to make Rules with regard to Courts of Arbitration and also with regard to Courts of Inquiry. There are a great many precedents for this in former Acts of Parliament where Rules have to be laid before Parliament and no delay whatsoever is incurred. In the National Insurance Act of 1911 it is provided that the Regulations of the Insurance Commissioners must be laid before Parliament, and if eventually Parliament did not agree with them they hold good up to the point at which Parliament disagrees, and so they are valid until Parliament declares them to be rescinded. Then we have the Housing Act and the Ministry of Health Act and the Peace Treaty, and in each one of those the Rules and Regulations made by the Executive had to be laid before the Houses of Parliament, and hon. Members had a chance of saying whether they would have them or not. I do not see why my right hon. Friend should not accept this Amendment in the same way as his colleagues have accepted it under other Bills. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has read my Amendment carefully, but the last paragraph has been put down in order that there should be absolutely no delay. Although the Act of 1893 provides for the document being laid before Parliament for at least forty days before the statutory rules become operative, I have taken the pains in the last paragraph of my Amendment to provide that this particular provision shall not apply here, and therefore there will not be any delay at all, and these rules will be perfectly valid unless and until this House decides to alter them. I therefore cannot see any reason why my right hon. Friend should not accept my proposal. I can quite understand certain right hon. and hon. Members on the Front Benches may not like it. It is a proposal not at all agreeable to the Whips, because it means that at any time of the night, after the general business is finished, any hon. Member can move an Address to the Crown with the object of rescinding the rules. Now that power is a very valuable asset for Members of this House. We have very few privileges and very few powers left. This is one of the few occasions on which an hon. Member, after the general business of the day, can get up and move an Address to the Crown and there is nothing to stop him. I hope, therefore, my right hon. Friend will see his way to accept the new Clause, which involves absolutely no delay, and merely ensures that if any hon. Member wishes a particular rule to be rescinded he shall be in a position to ask the House to assent to his view.


My hon. Friend asked just now whether I had read this new Clause carefully. I always do read anything which my hon. Friend puts down, and I may add that I paid the closest attention to all he said in favour of this proposal. Had it been one dealing with such subjects as he referred to, affecting the people's rights and privileges, for instance, under the National Health Insurance Act, I should have been heartily in favour of it. But as this Bill now stands nobody can be affected by any rule which may be made. This Committee has taken out the compulsory powers with regard to calling on people to attend the Court and produce documents, and therefore these rules will only be the ordinary routine rules of procedure providing for the way in which people may go to the Court. The procedure there followed will be the ordinary procedure which any Court makes for itself, and the Court may have to vary them in order to facilitate its proceedings. I quite agree that every privilege and power of Parliament should be preserved. But this is not a privilege. It is only a nuisance. It is of the nature of using a steam hammer to crack a nut. Nothing can arise under the rules with which Parliament should be called upon to deal. I have not the slightest objection in principle to Parliament having all that is material before it, but I certainly think it would be a mere waste of time if we are only going to lay these things on the table so that everybody may ignore them. If my hon. Friend only really understood that, as a result of the new shape of the Bill, nothing is likely to arise under these rules affecting the jurisdiction of the House, I think he would feel inclined not to press his proposal.


Although the right hon. Gentleman has put his case very genially—as he always does—I must confess he has not been very convincing. All my hon. Friend asks by this proposal is this. We are setting up an Arbitration Court. The right hon. Gentleman is taking to himself powers to make rules relating to arbitration in certain cases and to lay down the way in which disputes shall be dealt with. All we ask is, that these rules shall be laid before the House. It cannot involve any waste of time, and, even should the House decide subsequently to abrogate a rule, it would not prejudice anything that has been done under it. I expected to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that there was some deep legal objection to this proposal. But his only point was that it is unnecessary. I respectfully submit to the Committee that it is not unnecessary to re-establish Parliamentary control. Members have felt it would be a good thing if this House of Commons had a voice in these big industrial disputes that arise. There have been settlements made outside this House very much to the detriment of the authority of Parliament. After all, this is the elective body for the whole country, and it is only by the State re-enforcing and corroborating the authority of the Court that you can give an effective answer to the people outside who want direct action. What my hon. Friend proposes is not only innocuous but may be most useful. I think it is a very valuable suggestion which will not clog the wheels of this Act, and it should therefore receive more favourable consideration at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman.


I quite agree that the proposal is harmless and innocuous, but I do submit that the present is not a case where Parliamentary control is necessary. These rules affect the procedure of the Court of Arbitration. It is a domestic matter for the Court itself, and there is just as much cause for laying them before Parliament, which, incidentally, I do not think is the right body to criticise them, as to laying before it the procedure of the Royal Courts of Justice. But I rose for the purpose of making a suggestion, and it is that something in the nature of a joint committee of employers and men and of members of the right hon. Gentleman's own Department should be set up, and that it should be the duty of that committee to formulate rules under the Act. That would give the public more confidence. I quite agree it cannot be done now, but I hope the Minister in charge will bear this suggestion in mind. I am just as strong as my hon. Friend opposite for Parliamentary control. But that control must be over proper subjects, and I do not think it is for this House to criticise complicated domestic matters of procedure.


I think the right hon. Gentleman hardly realises how deeply the public generally are affected by the disputes which will have to be dealt with by this Court. It is possible that some rule altogether bad might be made, or a rule of procedure altogether unsuitable for dealing with certain cases. At the same time, there may be a great deal of public unrest, and we should best get rid of that by having power here to ventilate the matter. I agree that it is not at all likely that the rules which are made will ever be discussed here, but there is a possibility that if some criticsm can be made publicly the hands of the Court may be strengthened in any dispute that may arise. There may be occasions when by means of a Debate in this House public unrest may be allayed, and therefore I think the right hon. Gentleman might very well accept the new Clause, especially having regard to the general position of the House of Commons at this time, the general public unrest, and the enormous powers which Departments are always trying to take on themselves.


I think I ought to point out that even if this proposal were carried it would not give an opportunity for raising a discussion of the nature suggested by the last speaker. Such a discussion would be quite out of order.


The Rules with which we are dealing are for the purpose of arranging the procedure of the Court—a Court which, we hope, will be accorded a very high status, and no doubt those Rules will be drawn with great care. But to suggest that this House ought to exercise some control over them is to miss the point altogether. My hon. and learned Friend who last spoke seemed to indicate that at a time of great industrial unrest it might be possible, if these Rules had to be lad before Parliament, for Parliament to intervene. But that is the very moment when Parliament ought not to intervene to subvert the authority of an independent Court. For Parliament to use its influence at the very time that Court is going to exercise its functions is the very thing which ought to be avoided. Those who have experience in the High Court would deprecate at any time, when a matter is before the High Court, a discussion in Parliament in which it might be asserted that the procedure under which the Court was acting was wrong. It would only lead to confusion. A Clause similar to this was put into the Treaty of Peace for this reason, that certain Orders in Council had to be made for the purpose of carrying out the terms of the Treaty. The Orders in Council provide for regulations to be made under them. That is all right, but here we are dealing with a matter which is purely domestic and largely administrative. It is quite right that Parliament should retain the control in such a case as I have quoted, but here my hon. Friend is dealing with a question of rules which will lay down the procedure of a Court which should be independent, and on whose judgment we should rely.

Captain BENN

It is a Court of Inquiry.


The Court is not to be a creature of the House or of a Minister; it is to be an independent Court. It is to have a very high status as an independent Court. To bring its rules of procedure before this House would be quite a new practice. It is really impossible. A more careful examination of the purpose of the Rules and the common use of this form will convince the Committee that really this Clause is unnecessary.


When the Insurance Bill was going through the House I remember exactly the same arguments being used about the Rules and Regulations which were going to be made. It was then pointed out by the Government that these Regulations and Rules would amount to some, hundreds, and that it would not be of the slightest use. As a matter of fact there have been thousands of Regulations and Rules issued by the Insurance Commissioners, and on one or two occasions this House has taken the opportunity of discussing them, and I am not at all sure that my hon. and learned Friend did not himself take part very late at night in the Debate on a Motion for an Address to the Crown disallowing one of the Insurance Regulations.


I hope I did, because the matter was completely different and it affords an excellent illustration of the difference between the Rules we are discussing now and the Rules on which I made a very happy and successful intervention. Those were Rules which were administrative and dealt with the rights of parties which were to be dealt with entirely under those Rules. They had nothing to do with the rules of procedure setting up a Court. As they affect the rights of property directly I am glad to be reminded that I was so successful in the intervention I made.


That is exactly what I was coming to. These particular Rules in the Insurance Act did not wholly deal with rights. You have here Regulations under Clause 60 made for the procedure of insurance committees. The whole of these have to be laid before Parliament.


My success was not on that.


My argument is that you have here under the Insurance Act Rules dealing with the procedure of Insurance Committees, rules for the giving of lectures and the publication of information. The whole of these Rules have to be laid before the House, and therefore the argument used by my hon. and learned Friend that mere rules of procedure need not be laid before the House does not hold good in regard to this Act of 1911. I attach the greatest value to giving either side every opportunity that it desires of discussing the Rules made under an Act of Parliament. It may be of slight consequence in regard to this Bill, but the principle is the same in every Bill, and I shall certainly divide the Committee.


I find it very difficult to follow my hon. Friend's argument. This is really the purely domestic procedure of these Industrial Courts and Courts of Inquiry as to the way in which they are to act and in which they may arrange for evidence being brought before them and the way in which witnesses may be accommodated and may be taken to suit the convenience of parties, and to say that the Court which is dealing with these matters is to have these simple rules of their ordinary procedure settled by the House of Commons seems to me quite out of the question.


Laid before Parliament.


That must mean that Parliament is not to ignore them. It must

mean that they are rules which ought to occupy the attention of Parliament. In my view Parliament would be wasting its time on questions of that kind. Parliament is very much occupied. It might be even more occupied in the future. Business is even congested at present and for hon. Members to take an interest in the domestic rules of a Court seems to be straining the matter of the privileges of Parliament to a degree which is quite unconstitutional, and with all the goodwill in the world towards my hon. Friend's general point of view as to the necessity of keeping Parliament supreme, I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment.


I do my utmost to give way to my right hon. Friend in every possible manner, but I regard this as a matter of principle and I am afraid I must go to a Division.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 73; Noes, 234.

Division No. 131.] AYES. [6.38 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York.) Short, A. (Wednesbury)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Sitch, C. H.
Atkey, A. R. Hartshorn, V. Smith, W. (Wellingborough)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Haslam, Lewis Spencer, George A.
Barton, Sir William (Oldham) Hayday, A. Spoor, B. G.
Bell, James (Ormskirk) Hayward, Major Evan Swan, J. E. C.
Benn, Capt. W. (Leith) Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Bentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish- Hirst, G, H. Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Billing, Noel Pemberton Hogge, J. M. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Holmes, J. Stanley Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Briant, F. Jones, J. (Silvertown) Thorne, Colonel W. (Plaistow)
Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute) Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander Tootill, Robert
Carter, W. (Mansfield) Kiley, James Daniel Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.) Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian) Waterson, A. E.
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel- Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Devlin, Joseph Marriott, John Arthur R. White, Colonel G. D. (Southport)
Du Pre, Colonel W. B. Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox) Wignall, James
Entwistle, Major C. F. Newbould, A. E. Wilkie, Alexander
Finney, Samuel Newman, Major J. (Finchley, M'ddx.) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Foxcrott, Captain C. O'Grady, James Wood, Maj. Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)
France, Gerald Ashburner Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Young, Lt-Com. E. H. (Norwich)
Galbraith, Samuel Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Graham, W. (Edinburgh) Richardson, R. (Houghton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Griffiths, T. (Pontypool) Royce, William Stapleton G. Locker-Lampson and Mr. Rendall.
Grundy, T. W.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr, Christopher Bethell, Sir John Henry Burn, T. H. (Belfast)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Bigland, Alfred Campbell, J. G. D.
Ainsworth, Captain C. Birchall, Major J. D. Campion, Colonel W. R.
Armitage, Robert Bird, Alfred Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. F. W. Blair, Major Reginald Chadwick, R. Burton
Baird, John Lawrence Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith- Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)
Baldwin, Stanley Bowles, Colonel H. F. Cheyne, Sir William Watson
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bridgeman, William Clive Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill
Balfour, Sir Robert (Partick) Bread, Thomas Tucker Clough, R.
Barker, Major R. Bruton, Sir J. Coats, Sir Stuart
Barnett, Major Richard W. Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H. Cohen, Major J. B. B.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A. Colfox, Major W. P.
Bell, Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir W. J. Colvin, Brig.-General R. B.
Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich) Burden, Colonel Rowland Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)
Bennett, T. J. Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay) Courthope, Major George- Loyd
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University) Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Purchase, H. G.
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.) Jodrell, N. P. Rae, H. Norman
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Raeburn, Sir William
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.
Davies, T. (Cirencester) Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen) Rees, Captain J. Tudor (Barnstaple)
Denniss, E. R. Bartley (Oldham) Kellaway, Frederick George Reid, D. D.
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander H. Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham) Renwick, G.
Dixon, Captain H. Kerr-Smiley, Major p. Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)
Edge, Captain William Kidd, James Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) King, commander Douglas Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Elliot, Captain W. E. (Lanark) Knight, Captain E. A. Robinson, T. Stretford, Lancs.)
Eyres-Monsell, Commander Knights, Captain H. Rodger, A. K.
Falcon, Captain M. Lane-Fox, Major G. R. Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar Rowlands, James
Farquharson, Major A. C. Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund
Fell, Sir Arthur Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.) Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L. Lloyd, George Butler Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)
Fitzroy, Capt, Hon. Edward A. Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur
Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Lonsdale, James R. Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.
Foreman, H. Lorden, John William Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)
Forestier-Walker, L. Lort-Williams, J. Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Fraser, Major Sir Keith Lowe, Sir F. W. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)
Ganzoni, Captain F. C. M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworlh) Seager, Sir William
Gardiner, J. (Perth) M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.) Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)
Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke) M'Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W.(Brigg) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Cambridge) Macmaster, Donald Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd McMicking, Major Gilbert Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Gibbs, Colonel John Abraham Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Gilbert, James Daniel Marks, Sir George Croydon Stanier, Captain Sir Beville
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John Mason, Robert Stanley, Col. Hon. H. G. F. (Preston)
Glyn, Major R. Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C. Stanton, Charles Butt
Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir E. A. Middlebrook, Sir William Steel, Major S. Strang
Greame, Major P. Lloyd Mitchell, William Lane- Stephenson, Colonel H. K.
Green, A. (Derby) Moles, Thomas Stewart, Gershom
Green, J. F. (Leicester) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz Strauss, Edward Anthony
Greene, Lt.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.) Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Sturrock, J. Leng-
Greer, Harry Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Sugden, Lieut. W. H.
Greig, Colonel James William Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Sutherland, Sir William
Griggs, Sir Peter Morrison, H. (Salisbury) Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)
Gritten, W. G. Howard Mount, William Arthur Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leie., Loughboro') Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Guinness, Lt.-Cot. Hn. W. E. (B. St. E) Murray, John (Leeds, W.) Townley, Maximilian G.
Hailwood, A. Murray, William (Dumfries) Wallace, J.
Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich) Nall, Major Joseph Walters, Sir John Tudor
Hambro, Angus Valdemar Neal, Arthur Wardle, George J.
Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.) Nicholson, W. (Petersfield) Warren, Sir Alfred H.
Hennessy, Major G. Nield, Sir Herbert Weigall, Lt.-Colonel W. E. G. A.
Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G. Weston, Colonel John W.
Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Oman, C. W. C. Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.
Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E. Palmer, Brig.-General G. (Westbury) Whitla, Sir William
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F. Parker, James Wigan, Brig.-General Sir Tyson
Hills, Major J. W. (Durham) Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool) Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud
Hinds, John Pearce, Sir William Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G. Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Hood, Joseph pennefather, De Fonblanque Wood, Major Hon. E. (Ripon)
Hope, Harry (Stirling) Perkins, Waiter Frank Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pickering, Col. Emil W. Woolcock, W. J. U.
Hope, Lieut.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian) Pilditch, Sir Philip Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Hopkins, J. W. W. Pinkham, Lt.-Colonel Charles Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley) Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Home, Sir Robert (Hillhead) Pownall, Lt.-Colonel Assheton Young, William (Perth and Kinross)
Howard, Major S. G. Pratt, John William
Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. C Prescott, Major W. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Capt.
Hurd, P. A. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G. F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.

Question put, and agreed to.