HC Deb 04 July 1924 vol 175 cc1726-42

Order read for Consideration as amended (in the Standing Committee).


On a point of Order. I wish to ask a ruling on the Title of the Bill. This is a Bill the Title of which has been changed. As introduced it was a Bill to relieve members of local authorities from disqualification for office. As amended now it is a Bill to relieve members and chairmen of local authorities from disqualification for office by reason of the receipt of medical or surgical relief. The House will see that the Title, as amended, is considerably narrower than the original Title. The point I wish to raise is this. When a Committee has narrowed the Title of a Bill—I am not taking the point that the Title is not in conformity with the Bill as altered—does that bind the House to discuss only such proposals as are in harmony with the restricted Title, or it is competent for hon. Members to move Amendments in harmony with the original and wider Title? If the House is bound by the narrower Title would it be in order in a case to move the recommittal of the Bill in order that such proposals as would have been in order under the original Title may be discussed?


I would like to add a word, because there appears on the Paper in my name a Motion for the recommittal of the Bill. The notice was put on the Paper rather ex majori cautela. Some of my hon. Friends thought that there were several other disqualifications for election to a local authority which should be taken into account. I am not now disposed to move the Motion. Before a ruling be given on the point raised, I would like to read Standing Order No. 41— Upon the Report Stage of any Bill no Amendment may be proposed which could not have been proposed in Committee without an instruction from the House. I submit that Order carries with it the implication that while no Amendments might be proposed which could not have been proposed in Committee without instructions from the House, any Amendment which could have been proposed in Committee without such instruction is competent on the Report stage of the Bill. Surely it would be ridiculous that a Standing Committee which is only a portion of this House should be able to take some action which would narrow the power of this House in dealing with the Bill. The matter arises in this particular case because as introduced the Title of the Bill was A Bill to relieve members and chairmen of local authorities from disqualification for office. There are a number of statutory disqualifications but this Bill in point of fact only dealt with one, namely, disqualification on the ground of poor relief. The Title was amended and is now A Bill to relieve members and chairmen of local authorities from disqualification for office by reason of the receipt of medical or surgical relief. It is perfectly clear therefore that Amendments which might have been competent under the first title would not be competent under the second. It would be absurd if we were to take the line that this House is deprived of the right to do something on the Report stage by the action of some of its Members who happen to have been selected on the Committee.


If, as has been suggested, certain Amendments would be outside the narrow Title of the Bill, would it not be competent here and now to alter the Title of the Bill, and extend it so as to cover other disqualifications? Further, would it be necessary to recommit the Bill in order to have the Title widened again or on Report stage can the House again alter the Title?


I do not think recommittal would make any difference one way or the other. This Bill as it was introduced had a wide Title but a narrow body. The Committee, quite properly I think, changed the Title to fit the Bill, and we are bound in the House at this stage by the Bill as it comes to us from the Committee. Standing Order No. 41 was quoted to me and I would quite accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. Hope) on Standing Order No. 41 with this addition, that nothing can be proposed at this stage which could not have been proposed in the Committee if the Title of the Bill had been what the Title is now. I think that is the correct way of looking at it. I certainly shall not entertain Amendments at this stage which would widen the Bill beyond the Title as it now stands.


Do I understand you, Sir, to rule that because the Bill had a narrow body for the wide Title, in Committee it would have been impossible to propose Amendments suggesting that other disqualifications should be removed.


No, I do not rule that.


Supposing the Bill as originally introduced had had a wide body and a wide Title, but the width of both had been reduced by the Committee, would it then have been possible to reintroduce the width on the Report stage, or would the House have been bound by the narrower Title as the Bill emerged from the Committee?


The hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox) is asking me to rule on a hypothetical question, but I think I must be content to deal with the facts as they stand.

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.


The first Amendment that I select on this Bill is the one standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Lorrimer)—in Clause 2, page 1, lines 22 and 23.

  1. CLAUSE 2.—(Removal of disqualification in certain casses.) 5,086 words, 1 division