HC Deb 01 August 1924 vol 176 cc2435-6

Lords Amendment:

In page 15, line 22, after the word "is," insert the words "for the time being."


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment is purely drafting.


I hope I shall not be considered hypercritical, but I do not understand why this particular Amendment has been introduced. I presume I shall be told that this is a drafting Amendment. A drafting Amendment is designed for the purposes of correcting faulty construction or making clear what is not already clear. This Amendment does neither. If these words are included, I can well understand that a legal argument may arise as to whether a costable for the purpose of this Clause was regularly engaged in the regulation of traffic or merely engaged "for the time being." It may be argued that a constable who is regularly engaged in this work is also engaged "for the time being." I hope the Minister will be able to explain the reason that prompted the other place in suggesting this Amendment.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Webb)

The difference is this. A police constable, say Sergeant Jones, in uniform, is regularly engaged day by day in the regulation of traffic. Therefore, persons disobeying his orders would be liable to prosecution for obstruction. The intention surely is that he shall only have that authority when he is actually engaged in regulating traffic. Although for the whole of the period that he is working he may be engaged day by day in the regulation of traffic, we do not want him, even if he is in uniform, thinking that he has power to give directions somewhere else in London where he happens to be. I think the other place is to be commended in this respect for suggesting an Amendment for the protection of the subject.


While accepting the explanation, the words appear to me to be inserted in the wrong place. They should come later.


I suppose the President of the Board of Trade is deputising for the Attorney-General. He has fulfilled many duties in his time, and we are quite prepared to see him occupying the position of a Law Officer of the Crown "for the time being." It may be worth while looking at this point. I do not know Whether the right hon. Gentleman has consulted the Law Officers of the Grown on the matter. Apart from the legal question, it seems to me that difficulties may arise as to whether the officer is "for the time being" engaged in this work. My Noble Friend the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) has had more experience of this kind than I have, and perhaps he will add a few words. I only want to warn the President of the Board of Trade in his new capacity that he had better be very careful, and I hope he is reassured in his statement by the advice of the legal authority at the disposal of the Government.