§ Order read for Consideration of Lords Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question "That the Lords Amendment be now considered," put, and agreed to.—[Sir Kingsley Wood.]
§ Lords Amendment considered accordingly.
§ Lords Amendment: To leave out Clause 4.2040
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
The House may remember that Clause 4 contained a power in certain events to obtain a decision on the law of rating. This suggestion came from the Central Valuation Committee, a body appointed under the Act to deal with questions arising in connection with rating, and to promote uniformity of practice. The Central Valuation Committee found themselves confronted with certain matters which they regarded as deserving of judicial decision and upon which there was diversity of practice, and they represented to my right hon. Friend that they desired if possible a speedy and inexpensive way by which such a judicial decision could be attained, especially where no ratepayer had a sufficient interest to incur the cost of the proceedings. The matter was fully discussed in the House, and also in another place, and it has been very strongly represented that the method suggested was one which might make the judiciary subject to or the advisers of the Exchequer. I need hardly assure the. House there is 2041 no intention or, I believe, any foundation for that suggestion. But the Government, in asking the House to agree to the deletion of this Clause, cannot ignore the fact that some of the highest judicial authorities in the country have represented in addition that there may be doubt or distrust on the part of a large number of people in relation to such a matter, and they might very well consider that there were some grounds for believing that the Judiciary were in some way dependent upon Government Departments, and, therefore, it was considered far better to avoid even the appearance of such an evil that this Clause should be abandoned rather than that we should run any risk that there should be an impression amongst the public of that kind that I ask the House, therefore, to agree with the Lords in the deletion of the Clause.
§ Mr. DENNIS HERBERT
I desire to congratulate the Government on taking a course which shows considerable moral courage and give many of its supporters increased confidence in them in the course they have taken in this case. It is true, as the Lord Chancellor said in another place, this Clause was an attractive proposal, but, as my hon. Friend has said, it is of the greatest importance that the independence of the justiciary should be, like Cæsar's wife, above suspicion. It may have been an attractive proposal, but the history of this world is strewn with attractive proposals which have not been desirable. It was an attractive proposal that was made by the serpent to Eve. This proposal made by the Central Valuation Committee is very much like the historical one, and, if it had been assented to, it would have been likely to meet with equally disastrous and unfortunate results.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.