HC Deb 22 June 1920 vol 130 cc2099-100

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I should like to have some explanation of this Clause. It provides a right of appeal from the High Court of Appeal for Ireland to the House of Lords, and paragraph (c) provides for such appeal in any case where a decision of the High Court of Appeal for Ireland involves a decision of any question as to the validity of any law made by or having the effect of an Act of Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, and the decision is not otherwise subject to appeal. It will be seen that Clause 49 gives ministerial power to refer the question of the validity of any Act of either of the Irish Parliaments, and in the final line of Sub-section (1) of that Clause it states that the question shall be decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Supposing, however, that the question of the power of one of the Parliaments to make a law is referred to the Privy Council, and is decided by them, that the Bill becomes law and that a law suit arises involving the question of the validity of the Bill, and an appeal goes forward to the House of Lords. I believe I am right in saying that the House of Lords is not bound by a decision of the Privy Council, although it would naturally regard it with respect. What will happen in such a case? If the House of Lords differed from the Privy Council, there would be an unfortunate conflict. It is impossible to legislate so as to provide that the House of Lords should be bound by the Prive Council. Under these circumstances, may not this provision with reference to the Privy Council clearly act only as a possible way of misleading people as to what their true rights are? Two ways out of the difficulty occur to me. One obvious way would be to leave out any Council, on the ground that it would be more dangerous than useful, in view of the possibility of the decision being reversed by the House of Lords. The other way would be to make the right of appeal on the question of the validity of a law, not to the House of Lords, but to the Privy Council, in which case there would be no possibility of conflict.


Paragraph (c) of Clause 47 provides that in all actions at law an ordinary appeal from the High Court of Appeal for Ireland shall lie with the House of Lords. Clause 49, to which the hon. Member referred, gives to the Government in accordance with the ordinary constitutional practice of the country the right to apply to the Privy Council as to the validity either of the law or of the proposal from the law, which may or may not invalidate the provisions of this Act, or may not be ultra vires.

According to the Constitution, His Majesty on the advice of his Ministers has always the right to apply to the Privy Council as to the validity of such a law, and in such a case it was thought proper to preserve that right in the event of such a matter being referred to the Privy Council, their decision having been given. If the identical point were subsequently to arise in an action the House of Lords in such action would be bound by the decision of the Privy Council and there would not be the difference between the two jurisdictions which my hon. Friend fears.

Clauses 48 (Appeals where Validity of Irish Law Questioned), 49 (Special Provision for Decision of Constitutional Questions), and 50 (Appeals from Decisions of Joint Exchequer Board) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being a Quarter past Eight of the Clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.

Forward to