With regard to the first three Amendments on the Paper, two in the name of the hon. And learned Member for Moss Side (Mr. G. Hurst)—in page 03, to leave out from the word "area" in line 2, to the word "the" in line 4, and to leave out from the word "expedient" in line 6, to the end of line 10—and one in the name of the hon. and learned Member for South East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser)—in page 93, line 5, to leave out the words "or do any other thing"—seem to me to raise analogous though not identical points, and I suggest that it might be for the convenience of the Committee if we take the discussion of all three Amendments simultaneously, reserving the right to go to a Division on each one separately, if the Committee so desire.
§ Mr. GERALD HURST
I beg to move, in page 93, to leave out from the word "area," in line 2, to the word "the" in line 4.
This Amendment raises what is a really important constitutional issue, because the effect of Clause 111 is to delegate the sovereign powers of legislation to a Government department. It is perfectly true that that delegation is for a limited period, and is for a definite ambit of legislation, but the fact remains that it is another illustration of the modern tendency of Parliament to delegate its own powers of legislation, and to put such powers into the hands of what, in effect, is simply a Government Department. I should like to put such observations as I can to the Committee under three heads. First of all, I should like to say something to show that that is the true meaning of Clause 111 as it now stands. Secondly, I should like to make some observations as to the principle which is raised by this delegation. My third point really is to attempt to elicit from the Minister whether the circumstances of this Bill are so cogent as 970 to necessitate the adoption of what, I submit, is a bad principle with regard to the delegation of Parliamentary powers to one Minister.
My Amendment leaves untouched the powers of the Minister to take exceptional action in what are there denned as exceptional areas. My Amendment touches those areas which are not exceptional, that is to say, normal areas. The true construction of Clause 111 is that for no less than nine months, from 1st April, 1930, until 31st December, 1930, the Minister can, without any reference to Parliament, ex post facto suspend, if he thinks fit, the operation of any of the provisions of this Bill, and can vary its provisions in any way that he thinks necessary and expedient. Those are very wide powers. The result is that the powers which this Clause places in the Minister of Health are powers of legislation for nine months, although in any such case there has been no previous reference to Parliament, and ex hypothesi such decisions as he may arrive at are decisions contrary, I do not say in the spirit, but certainly in the letter, to what Parliament has previously enacted. Therefore, the first point I make is that the effect of Clause 111 in its present form is to give the Minister of Health power to legislate within a definite area for a definite period, notwithstanding the fact that Parliament has legislated to the contrary in this year, and that power is to be in his hands for nine months during the year 1930.
My second point is that this is prima facie a bad principle. Let it he granted that we have every confidence in the Minister of Health. Let it be granted that we have the best Civil Service in the world, and that the Minister's advisers at the Ministry of Health will exercise their discretion on absolutely right grounds. Let it be granted that in recent years there are precedents for what this Clause seeks to do—there have been several precedents in the last few years to this effect. Making all those concessions, the fact remains that this Bill in its present form seeks to give effect to a power of suspension and dispensation which has been illegal in this country since the Bill of Rights, and which it seems unnecessary to re-enact in 971 these days for the benefit of a Government department. A great many critics much more competent than I am have spoken in a hostile spirit upon this growing tendency of Parliament largely to extend the powers of Government departments, but this is the largest of all executive powers. It is a power to legislate, in fact, because it is a power to override the provisions of an Act of Parliament.
I, personally, do not move this Amendment in any spirit antagonistic to the main proposals of the Government, but I think many Members on this side would like to elicit from the Minister what it is in this particular Bill that makes it wise and necessary to give these large functions to the Minister of Health. One recognises that in exceptional areas this may be very rightly deemed wise and necessary, but here, I imagine, the reason why the appointed day is put as far forward as 1st April, 1930, is that in the intervening period preparations can be adequately made to cope with the emergencies that may arise in that period. If it is necessary to make Amendments in the scheme, it is quite competent for Parliament to postpone the appointed day if need be, but, having regard to the fixing of the appointed day so far ahead, there seems good reason for not once again invoking this principle of supplanting the action of Parliament by the action of a Government Department.
The Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson) provides that before a regulation of this kind becomes operative, it shall have the specific sanction of both Houses of Parliament. That, to a large extent, I think, would remove the theoretical objection which many of us feel to the Clause in its present form. In its present form it does seem to me to be following a recent bad tradition, and I move this Amendment in the hope of eliciting from the Minister such an explanation as will satisfy many supporters on this side— supporters on broad lines of this Bill, who have their doubts with regard to the principle involved in this Clause. I hope he will be able to satisfy us that this departure from sound constitutional principle in this Clause is a wise one.
§ Sir HENRY SLESSER
As you, Captain Bourne, have already intimated, the Amendment which I have put down to this Clause, and the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. and learned Friend, may be conveniently discussed as a matter of principle together. The principle which we wish to bring before the Committee, and which we think and hope—at any rate, I think and hope— the Committee will be of opinion, when they have heard everything that has been said, is one of the most vital importance to the whole principle of government, is this: This Clause, which we seek to amend by taking out of it at least the most vicious part, although I think the whole Clause is vicious, is called in the margin, "Power to remove difficulties." We shall be told by the right hon. Gentleman that a similar Section has crept into other Acts of Parliament, but if that be so, it is about time that we put a stop to this very vicious practice, and I think that argument, at any rate, will not prevail with the Committee.
There used to be an excellent custom in the 17th and, I think, the 18th centuries that Clauses were read out to the House by the Clerk, but that system has now been abandoned, and I propose, in order to explain what this Amendment does, to read out what this Clause does, because it is drawn in a very artful manner. That is to say, the more innocent part of the Clause comes first, for it begins by saying:If any difficulty arises in connection with the application of this Act to any exceptional area,certain things may happen, and the casual reader stopping there may think that this is merely a piece of machinery for dealing with an exceptional case, but no; this is a case where the general follows the particular, whether from design or not I do not know. It goes on:or in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.With that, the thing goes far beyond the question of the application to an exceptional area, and we then get this position.:If any difficulty arises…in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.It is not quite clear who is to decide that difficulty, but I think it is the Minister, because it goes on to say: 973The Minister may by order remove the difficulty.I do not know what difficulty they are contemplating, whether it is a legal difficulty, whether it is my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Greenwood) who is to be removed under this Clause, or what the Minister has in mind, but whatever the difficulty be, be it legal, moral, or physical, he has power to remove it by order. It goes on:or make any appointment,and then come the particular words which I am seeking in my Amendment to delete from this extraordinary Clause:or do any other thing,which seem to be words of generality giving the Minister power to do anything which is possible to mortal man in this world. To test it in this way, if he does any other thing, and the subject, when he goes to the Law Courts, says, "This was beyond the powers of the Minister," the Minister might very well say, as I think on the authorities he would be right in saying, "The Act gives me power to do any other thing, and whatever I do, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Courts to say that it is beyond my power."Any other thing, which appears to him necessary or expedient, for bringing the said provisions into operation.There, we think that the real effect of this Clause is to enable the Minister, not necessarily the right hon. Gentleman, but whoever may occupy his seat at the Ministry of Health, whenever he thinks that he wants to bring into operation any of the provisions of this Act, and he is met with what he believes to be a difficulty, to do anything he likes to modify the provisions of the Act so far as may appear to him necessary or expedient. In these circumstances, was not the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Mr. Gerald Hurst) perfectly right when he said that the effect of this Clause would be to reintroduce into this country the dispensing power?
If I may draw another historical analogy, this Clause reminds me of a Statute of his late blessed Majesty Henry VIII, which was called the Statute of Declarations. King Henry VIII, who was always wise enough not to offend the Legislature, acquired absolute and supreme power in this realm by putting 974 through Parliament a Bill which said that thereafter anything which was enacted by him, or by Order-in-Council, should have the force of law. May I suggest for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues upon that bench that really our Sessions would be greatly shortened and our work greatly lightened if one comprehensive Bill were introduced at the beginning of the Session saying that any Minister, to remove any difficulty, might do any other thing which seemed to him necessary or expedient? That really is the effect of this legislation, and, while I cannot admire the right hon. Gentleman for introducing this Clause, I do admire his courage, because I remember that last year, when we suspected him of an attempt to break another fundamental principle of our Constitution, in the matter of the judiciary, although in this House I regret to say, his views prevailed, in another place his wings were clipped. I do not want to threaten this Committee with what may happen hereafter, but his wings were clipped once, and they may be clipped again, and so long as they are clipped, it does not matter to me whether they are clipped here or anywhere else.
If the Government would take off the Whips on this Clause, I do not believe that they would get 30 Members of the party opposite, and certainly no Member of the parties on this side, to support this particular proposal, which is simply giving to the Government complete power, for a limited period of time, it is true, but during that limited period of time up to the 31st December, 1930, to put into this Bill, to take out of this Bill, to make appointments, to make Orders, to do anything which the Minister, whoever he may be, may think necessary or expedient. Great as is the confidence that I have in my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side who will probably be Ministers before the end of that period, I would not like to trust even them with this power It is too much power to give to anybody. It is the privilege of Parliament to legislate, not the privilege of the Executive, and people here and outside are constantly calling attention to the fact that this Legislature is giving to the Executive power after power which ought to be kept in the hands of Parliament itself. 975 If Parliament is prepared to part with this privilege of saying what shall and what shall not be in an Act, I say that all legislation in the future really becomes quite vain.
The matter is more serious for this reason, that in Clause 109 we have already given to the Minister power to vary the necessary Orders made to carry out this Bill. It is no good the Minister telling us that certain parts of this Bill involve machinery which means legislation by way of Orders. Clause 109 gives powers, I think too great, to modify those Orders, and we wish to know, if Clause 109 gives ordinary machinery of legislation by Order, what is the need for Clause 111, which goes much further? There is one other point. We shall no doubt be told that we have failed to look at Sub-section (2), which says:Every order made under this Section shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made.The Committee know very well that a provision of that sort, unaccompanied by any restrictive provision that the Order shall not take effect until Parliament has so decided, as is indeed the effect of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson), is valueless from the point of view of controlling the Executive. The matter is discussed in "Erskine May," who says, speaking of the various kinds of Orders which are to be laid before Parliament:In the simplest case there is only an obligation to lay the rules, etc., upon the Table of each House, although in some of these cases there is in addition, a prohibition against the authority taking any action upon the rule for a prescribed period of time.I want to know, even if the right hon. Gentleman succeeds in satisfying the Committee that it is necessary that Parliament should give him these enormous and unrestricted powers, why it is that the obligation to lay the Orders before Parliament is not accompanied at any rate by this provision that an Order shall not operate until Parliament has sanctioned it, because the Committee will notice that, as the Clause is drafted, even that small and belated protection is completely lacking.
I do not want to repeat; I will merely summarise. My Amendment would be at least to leave out from this unrestricted 976 power the right to do any other thing which the Minister may deem necessary or expedient. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side would restrict all the powers, as I understand it, except in the case of the exceptional areas, and there is yet another Amendment, by the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham, to say that the sanction of Parliament should be obtained; but, if I may say so, the best Amendment of all, that which I think would come nearest our hearts and bosoms, is the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye), to leave out the Clause altogether. If that is too much to hope for, I hope the Minister will be able to satisfy us that he is conscious that there is a real feeling, not confined to any particular part of the Committee, on this matter, and that he will give us some assurance that he will curtail the demand which he is making on us now. I cannot sit down without calling attention to the fact that all these Amendments are moved, I think, by students or practitioners of the law. It is a matter of pride to us that the lawyers in this House are the guardians of our liberties.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)
The attack which has just been made upon the Clause by the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) is, as is so frequently the case with him, made entirely upon theoretical and academic grounds. He and the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Mr. Gerald Hurst), who also finds fault with a Clause of this character, have skated very lightly over the fact that there are numerous precedents for a Clause of this kind, and I shall have at least to quote to the Committee some of these precedents in order to show that what we are proposing to do in this Clause has behind it a great weight of examples from other Acts of Parliament passed by this or preceding Governments. But it is not merely because of our precedents for this Clause that I mention the matter on this Amendment, but because, if this Clause really were open to the sort of abuses which the hon. and learned Member has so eloquently described, surely he would have been able to bring before us at least one single instance where this power had been wrongly used. He has not been able to find a single instance, in spite of the fact that I can 977 quote him six Acts since 1888 in which a similar Section has been inserted, where Parliament has not thought it necessary to raise the slightest shadow of complaint. That is really the strongest answer, I submit, to the objections of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and until he can show that this Clause has really brought about the sort of abuses which he has suggested, there is the thinnest sort of defence for his observations.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has objected particularly to the words "do any other thing." He did read most of the Clause to the Committee, but he did omit, or he did at any rate make such pauses between the different sections of the Clause that he brought out, as to bring himself very much under the suspicion of that artfulness of which he accused the Government in regard to this Clause. After all, the Minister is not given power to do anything which he pleases. The things which he may -do are the things which are necessary or expedient to bring into operation the provisions of the Act, not to bring into operation any other provisions. He can only exercise his powers in order to bring into operation the provisions of the Act. As the hon. and learned Gentleman says, it is open to him to use his own discretion and judgment as to what is necessary and expedient. I agree that it is, but I would remind him that his action is always subject to review by Parliament owing to the fact that he has to lay his Order on the Table, and an Address can be presented to His Majesty within 21 days against the Order.
The hon. and learned Member asked why the Bill does not say that an Order shall not become operative until Parliament has positively approved it, but he does not attempt to visualise the sort of circumstances that would make this Clause desirable or necessary. They are circumstances of urgency. Something might happen to prevent some provision of the Act coming into operation; there might be a deadlock and something must be done at once. You could not wait until Parliament has passed a resolution; Parliament might not be in Session at the time. The only thing to do is to remove the difficulty at once, and, if the Minister removes it in a way that does not really and properly come within the words of the Clause, Parliament has a 978 remedy, and can pull up the Minister for his action. This is not a new thing, and I must read to the Committee one or two extracts in order that they may see what has been done before. The first is from the Local Government Act, 1888—a very long time ago. Section 108 says:If…any difficulty arises as respects the holding of the first election of county councillors or as to the first meeting of a provisional council, the local government board may by order appoint a returning officer or other officer, and do any matter or thing which appears to them necessary for the proper holding of the first election."Which appears to him necessary" are precisely the same words as in this Clause.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. and learned Member is a little previous, for I had not finished my extract. It goes on:Any such order may modify the provisions of this Act…so far as may appear to the Board necessary.I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his interruption. The Local Government Act, 1894, Section SO, says:If any difficulty arises with respect to the holding of the first parish meeting of a rural parish…the county council may by order make any appointment or do anything which appears to them necessary or expedient for the proper holding of any such meeting…Any such order may modify the provisions of this Act…so far as may appear to the county councils necessary or expedient for carrying the order into effect.The National Insurance Act, 1911, Section 78, says:If any difficulty arises…in bringing into operation this Part of this Act, the Insurance Commissioners…may by order make any appointment and do anything which appears to them necessary or expedient…for bringing this Part of this Act into operation, and any such order may modify the provisions of this Act so far as may appear necessary or expedient for carrying the order into effect.In view of the sort of attack that has been made, I want the Committee to understand that this is not a new provision, but an old and constantly repeated provision which has not given rise to any difficulty. The same sort of thing is to be found in the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920, and in more recent Acts, such as the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age 979 Contributory Pensions Act, and the Rating and Valuation Act. The hon. and learned Member for Moss Side did not see any objection to the Clause so far as it refers to exceptional areas. I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South-East Leeds will agree with him there, for he wants the Clause out root and branch, or teeth and branch to use a modern phrase.
I must point out that there may be exceptional cases which are not exceptional areas. There are a number of places in the Act where it is provided that certain things must be done by a certain time or within a certain time. It is quite possible that for some reason, which at present I am not prepared to state, the things may not be done within the statutory time, but is the whole business of the Act to break down on that account? Surely there must be some provision which will prevent the only alternative, which would be to bring in an amending Bill. If we are to come back to Parliament for an amending Bill every time there is a temporary breakdown, owing to some circumstances that could not have been foreseen at the time the Act was passed, Parliament would be spending a very large part of its time quite unnecessarily in dealing with matters which really do not contravene any of the intentions of Parliament, but merely postpone for a short time, in view of the exceptional circumstances, the actual operation of the Act.
There are a number of cases of local Acts in different parts of the country, and you cannot put into a Bill of this length, complex and difficult as it is already, provisions to deal with the exceptional cases of every one of these local Acts, some of which are very likely hardly even known in my Department, but this Clause will give us the opportunity of making some temporary provision to cover them. There is one area in the North of England where the duty of maintaining the highways and bridges devolves upon the inhabitants of a lordship, and rates can be levied for that purpose. That is the sort of thing which we may come up against in the course of the working of this Bill, and it is to remove difficulties of that kind that the Clause is introduced. I hope that I have shown the 980 Committee that in the provision we have before us we are only following the example of many Governments and many Acts before us, and I can confidently say that there has never arisen a case, where a Clause of this kind has had to be put into operation, where Parliament has found any reason to complain of the Minister who put it into operation. In view of these circumstances, I submit that the hon. and learned Gentleman is altogether going beyond the actual practical facts of the case. and that there is no reason to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir LESLIE SCOTT
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us the kind of things that were done under the enabling Clauses in the Acts which he has quoted in order to show the sort of thing that is contemplated here?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I have not in my head the particular instances in which they were put into operation. There were very few instances, but there were some, and I could get the information for my right hon. Friend.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The reply of the right hon. Gentleman leaves me gasping. He has not attempted for a moment to justify the Clause, and he quotes precedents which are wholly inadequate. Two of the precedents which he gave were cases where the old Local Government Board took powers similar to these to deal with specific things, namely, elections. The Acts of 1888 and 1894 solely gave the Minister of Health power to deal with difficulties which arise in connection with elections. Every one of these bad precedents which he has quoted were Ministry of Health Acts. Apparently, the other Departments of State do not find it necessary to put what I would call this laziness Clause into the Bill. The Board of Agriculture, the Board of Trade, the Scottish Office, and the Home Office can manage to draft their Bills watertight, and put them before the House in a condition in which the House can deal with them. It is only the Ministry of Health which requires to put in all their Acts this Clause enabling the Minister of Health to reverse decisions come to by Parliament. Under this Clause, the Minister of Health is entitled, for two years, to alter this Bill. We have spent 12 days on the Bill in Committee alone discussing it, hardly amending it, but still 981 altering it in some details, and yet for the next two years the Ministry of Health can amend what Parliament has passed. I think the right hon. Gentleman was badly coached when he answered the right hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) and said that he did not know where these powers had been used.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I did not say that. I said that I could not give the details of any instances in which they had been used.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That is exactly what the Committee is entitled to have. If this thing has precedents, let us know what the bureaucracy has made of it. It is not merely a question of what use they can make of it, but what use they have made of it, that ought to guide the Committee how to vote on this question. I agree that the Ministry may not have done anything under his Clause; it is possible that they put the Clause in just as one puts salt into stew. The people who draft these Bills say: "Let us put this Clause in; it has been in before, and it may be useful." But has it ever been useful? Has it ever been used before, or is it put in because of the laziness of the officials of the Ministry in not being able to draft a Bill that can be put into operation? Parliament ought not to abrogate its powers in this way.
Let me give an illustration of the difficulty that may arise. The Government may find that this Bill is too expensive, and that it costs too much money, like the Corn Production Act, which was passed solemnly for a period of years, and then repealed after a year and a half. They may find that the Bill is giving too much, and that the gift to the agricultural landlords, for instance, is excessive, but for two years we can alter that. I hope we may. There may be a political difficulty. Suppose a new Government comes into power which is not intimately connected with the brewing trade, and not anxious to relieve the brewers of their rates. That would be a difficulty not financial, but political. Will the new Minister of Health be empowered under this Clause up to the end of 1930 to alter the Act of Parliament, and relieve the brewing industry of the benefits of the Measure?
982 It is not left to the Minister to say whether a thing is just, but merely to say whether it is expedient. When an alteration is made, it is not merely made up to the end of 1930, but for all times. The limitation in this Clause is that the Minister can make an Order only within two years, but once it is made it endures. The right hon. Gentleman points out that it is always possible, if the House wishes to protest against an Order made under this strange Clause, to move an Address to the Crown opposing it; but is it? As far as I remember, when a Government in power passes one of these ordinances, it is hopeless for the Opposition to attempt to carry an Address to the Crown against the Order. That may seem to the right hon. Gentleman to be a very amusing matter so far as this Parliament is concerned, but we may not always be in opposition, and it will be their turn then. When we make our Orders modifying the provisions of this Act, the Opposition then, like the Opposition now, will be unable to counter them.
My fundamental objection to this Clause is that it is a concession by Parliament to the bureaucracy. In this Bill we talk of the Minister, we see him before us, and we think of him as the devil of the piece; but we know that he really is not. We know that he is merely the brocaded porter at the entrance to the cinema, that the picture palace is behind, and that there are the people who, concealed behind the term "the Minister," are being given powers to override Parliament. This is an age when the bureaucracy are constantly grasping more and more power, becoming more and more dictatorial. We not only get autocrats and dictators in the South of Europe, but we invest our permanent officials with all the powers of a dictator, though without the title. In this Clause we are giving them a small additional power over the democracy, over this unfortunate people, enabling them by an omnibus Clause to do what they will when they will, provided that there is a Minister in charge docile enough to do what they wish.
§ Sir L. SCOTT
It seems to me that some Clause of this kind is necessary, but as a lawyer I approach it with grave misgivings. With the general principles expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East 983 Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) on the opposite side of the House I agree. I think it is vital to the liberty of this country that legislative powers should be reserved for this House, or only delegated to any other authority or any other person within the narrowest possible limits, and those limits ought to be clearly defined. On the other hand we are presented in this Bill—and it may well be that it is so in most Bills dealing with the question of local government in an old-established civilisation like ours— with complexities and difficulties of a kind which it is quite impossible for Parliament completely to cover in advance, and it is just because of those complexities in matters of detail, points which we have not thought of in this House, points which will prevent the legislation working in accordance with our intention if there are no means provided for dealing with them, that a Clause of this kind is occasionally necessary for this limited and exceptional purpose. I would like the Minister to see whether, between now and the Report stage, he cannot alter the wording of this Clause a little so as to attain what I believe to be the real object of the Clause, whilst at the same time avoiding the dangers of which many of us are so conscious.
The object of the Clause is not to enable the Minister to alter the provisions of the Bill, though the language of the Clause seems to permit that. The object is to preserve the provisions of the Bill and to enable him, when he comes to work them out, to see that the intention of Parliament is not defeated. The first two lines of the Clause are undoubtedly protecting lines, well calculated to prevent the occurrence of the kind of danger we fear, and it seems to me that that principle might be followed out a little more completely throughout the rest of the Clause. The first point to observe in the Clause is this:If any difficulty arises in connection with the application of this Act.It is not with the Act, but with the application of it. Secondly, it is not concerned with the application of it generally and in all circumstances, but only in an exceptional area which is subsequently defined. Then it says further:or in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.984 Not altering them, but bringing them into operation, making the provision which we have enacted effective. The Clause goes on to say that he mayby Order remove the difficulty or make any appointment, or do any other thing.Let us pause there for, a moment. If the difficulty arises in connection with one or other of these matters then he may by Order remove the difficulty. The provision should, as it seems to me, go towards removing the difficulty by doing this or that; it should not say "remove the difficulty" or do various things. That word "or" at once separates the powers thereafter conferred from the conditions contained in the first two or three lines. That is one suggestion I make to him.
The other point is this. If there is a real difficulty I feel that he ought to be given the power to remove it in so far as it is a difficulty in bringing the Act into operation, but to make him the final and exclusive judge of whether there is a difficulty, or whether what he thinks desirable in order to remove it is really desirable, is to give him rather a wide discretion. The discretion conferred is a discretion subject to no appeal at all, in no event. I suggest to him that he might consider whether it would not be possible to allow a local authority affected by any Order made under this Clause some form of appeal on the question of whether there was a difficulty or whether the method adopted by the Minister was necessary or expedient. If something of that kind could be done, and, possibly, certain further limiting words were introduced to define a little more closely the extent to which the Minister may exercise these very autocratic powers then I, for one, would welcome that addition.
From the very fact that the Minister has put in previous precedents in support of this Clause we are obviously dealing here with a Clause which may itself become a precedent in the future, and it is the danger of precedents of that kind which always alarms me. Each precedent may go a little further than the last, and we may ultimately and gradually get into what, quite candidly, seems to me to be a very bad habit in legislating. We ought to retain as much control over legislation as is practically possible. This Clause, as it stands, seems to me to be open to the criticism that it is not 985 quite as clear as it ought to be, not quite as limited as it ought to be, and that it does not contain certain safeguards by way of appeal which might be put into it. I hope that between now and the Report stage the Government will consider the suggestions which have been advanced.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
From the speech, amongst others, of the right hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott) the Minister will realise that the opposition to this Clause is not dictated by any desire to hurt his Bill, but by a real jealousy of the powers of this House, and by a growing suspicion of the powers of the executive as they encroach upon our ancient liberty. For that reason the principle embodied in this Clause must be granted to be a bad one. Necessities may arise which may drive one in this direction, but at the same time one ought not to go further than is absolutely necessary. But, if the principle be bad, the remedy by way of an Address is bad also, and it has been pointed out from the benches above the Gangway that it is a remedy which is not likely to be exercised. I am not making any party point about mechanical majorities, all majorities are somewhat mechanical, and some minorities as well, but any party when faced by a fait accompli, by something which had been put into operation by the Minister, would be extremely reluctant to vote an Address which would be in effect a vote of censure on what he had done. It would be different if the procedure suggested in another Amendment were adopted, because if Parliament were consulted before the thing had come into force there would be time for the feelings of the supporters of the Minister to become known and the Order might be withdrawn without any great loss of dignity.
We are not trying to guard against any blatant and obvious acts of tyranny. We are thankful to think that whatever party be in power, acts of that kind are rare. It is only an act like that which would be likely to call forth the remedy of an Address. What we are afraid of are gradual and subtle encroachments done with no desire to infringe upon the powers of Parliament—just here a little and there a little power passing from the legislature and going to the executive. If the principle be bad and if the 986 remedy be bad, I think the precedents are also bad, because here in this Bill we are dealing to a large extent with a tremendous unchartered country. It is because the Bill is so wide in extent, and because its provisions go so very deep into local government, that we have to be so careful as to what additional powers are granted. Even while we are discussing this Clause we have no idea of what action the Minister might be led to take under it. The precedents quoted were, as far as I remember, precedents in connection with Bills of a more limited scope, and therefore we are confronted with something which ought to give pause to everybody in the House, and I hope, if the Committee are going to be asked to vote for this Clause, they will have some assurance from the Treasury Bench that further consideration will be given to it between now and the Report stage.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Sir ALFRED HOPKINSON
I want to make a practical suggestion which I hope may meet some of the difficulties which have been expressed from all sides of the House. There are certain points on which, I think, we are all agreed. The first is that some Clause of this kind is necessary. We have the assurance of the Minister that difficulties may arise and may have to be met in some such way as is proposed. The second point is that there are precedents, almost word for word, for such a Clause as this. On the other hand, looking at this matter not pedantically, I believe, but from the point of view which I think all lawyers ought fairly to take, that is, that they are to some extent the guardians of the old constitutional principles, we ought not to outrage those principles more than is necessary in order to deal with a practical difficulty. We have had quite enough, indeed too much of this kind of thing. I would not call this Clause an astute one. I would rather wish to find a word which would be more Parliamentary, but I cannot find a better one than barefaced. It is obviously declaring that we are to give the Minister a dispensing power over Acts of Parliament. We thought we had got rid of all that in the time of James II, and I do not want to see in any Act of Parliament a declaration that the constitutional principles which were established in 987 1688 are overridden. What the Minister desires can be achieved without outraging these constitutional principles, and I have jotted down something which I humbly submit for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not profess to be a Parliamentary draftsman; but I suggest these words as a means of overcoming this difficulty, which is not merely a pedantic and theoretical difficulty, but rather the important matter that we should not go further in the way of bringing about what I call an unconscious revolution. The words I propose are;If any difficulty arises in connection with the application of this Act to any exceptional area, or in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act, the Minister may make such Order for removing the difficulty and bringing the Act into operation as may be necessary for that purpose.That would be a declaration that any Order which is made is made for the express purpose of doing what Parliament wants to have done and it would enable the Minister to make Orders in these exceptional cases for the purpose of bringing the Act into operation.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
On reading this Clause first, I was inclined to be of the opinion which has been so forcibly expressed by the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser). But, on reconsideration, and after hearing this Debate, I have modified my views a great deal, and I am rather inclined to support the Clause as it stands. In fact, in my view, it gives rather less power to the Minister than is proposed by the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson). I share to the full the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds. I detest the idea of giving any enlarged powers to any Minister, which really means the exercise of these powers by Departments behind closed doors without the full light of public opinion upon them; but it seems to be common ground that some general power must be given to the Minister for getting the Act to work. The reason why I have modified my opinion is that the powers given to the Minister in the Bill seem to be hedged in in the strictest possible way, because the exercise of them is limited to a particular class of 988 case. Difficulties must arise in certain cases and in exceptional areas, and it is the object of the Clause to apply the provisions of the Act to such cases. The power of the Minister is limited expressly to that provision, and, if he attempts to go outside that provision, the Law Courts have the full power to declare this Order null and void. That is the first class of case, and the same argument is equally applicable to the second class of case.If any difficulty arises in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.It must be a difficulty in regard to coming into operation, not as to the provisions or the working of the provisions of this Act.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
Will my hon. and learned Friend inform the Committee what, in his opinion, is the meaning of the phrase, "If any difficulty arises"? What sort of difficulty has he in mind? It seems to me to be quite indefinite.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I am not prepared to give instances; but the sort of difficulty which is referred to might arise in cases where there are special Acts, or special customs, where the application of this Act might come into conflict with some other Statute.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
Then why should that not be stated in this Clause? My difficulty is that it is not limited to anything exceptional, but seems to apply to something more that exceptional cases.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
It would be something in the nature of a technical difficulty. I suggest to the hon. Member for the English Universities that his proposed words would give the Minister greater powers than are given by the strictly limited words in the Clause. Under Clause 109, Sub-section (3), any Order that is made has to be laid on the Table of the House, and it will be open to any Member of this or the other House within 21 days to move that it be not approved. I suggest that, for every practical purpose, there is complete control over the Minister in this way. I think, therefore, the liberty of the subject is very well guarded, and that that principle, which I support just as strongly as my hon. and learned Friend who moved this Amendment, is effectively preserved.
§ Mr. RYE
I do not know if the Minister will consider the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities; but I think it would do away with a good deal of the grievance that is felt by certain Members of this House as to this Clause. Whether it follows precedent or does not, it enables the Minister, in fact, to amend and repeal an Act of Parliament or any portion of that Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health says that there are at least six Acts of Parliament at the present time which contain somewhat similar provisions, and that no harm has arisen out of these provisions. Personally I am not particularly impressed with this argument, for it seems to me that if I am so foolish as to leave my house uninsured for six years there is no reason why I should continue uninsured and so run the risk of disaster. It may very well be that in the past this House passed similar Clauses. If so, then it is clear that we sacrificed a great principle when precedents such as were created were allowed. I think the time has come when this House should definitely say that, when an Act of Parliament has been passed, there should be no alteration in that Act by any Minister, but that the Act can only be amended in the usual way by repeal, or by amending legislation.
The real issue is whether we are to continue to sacrifice rights which we possess. Are we going to spend our time day after day debating Bills and discussing Clauses in Committee, and, after assisting to put Bills on the Statute Book, ought we to leave a loophole for a Minister at his own free will to alter those Acts of Parliament in such a manner as he may think fit? Under those circumstances, we might as well shut up the House of Commons. We attend this House in order to debate, discuss, and frame Measures before they become Acts of Parliament, and, if we insert a Clause enabling Ministers to alter those Acts, we might as well stay away altogether. The Minister of Health has expressed his fears as to certain difficulties that may arise under this proposal, but I do not share those fears. The Minister of Health is a man of great ability; he has behind him officials possessing exceptional abilities, and they 990 must have spent a great deal of time considering the Clauses of this Bill.
I took the trouble this morning to go through this Measure up to Clause 54, and I found that ample power was reserved for the Minister upon 18 different occasions. Certain powers were also reserved to the Minister of Transport in connection with the roads. It is difficult to find any Clause in this Bill which does not give some power to the Minister. I should think, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension if he thinks that any trouble will arise or that many alterations will have to be made, for there cannot be many matters which are not covered by the wide powers which are given to the Minister. Those of us who are members of the legal profession are sometimes looked down upon with contempt, but we feel that we are now dealing with a great constitutional question, and I believe I am right when I say that the Members of the Law Society view with some apprehension this particular Clause. I hope the Minister of Health will consider very carefully the suggestion which has been put forward by the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson).
The Debate on this Clause seems to me quite typical of what takes place when those hon. Members taking part in the discussion belong to the legal profession. It is easy to find all sorts of technicalities to speak upon, and we have had some very interesting speeches upon this Clause. For sheer unadulterated Toryism I think this House has seldom listened to anything more Tory than the criticisms which have been made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser). A well known Member of the legal profession stated that he did not understand what an exceptional area meant. That is a point which does not need a great deal of imagination. When you see new towns springing up it is obvious that difficulties may arise under this Act which may need exceptional treatment, quite apart from what is already provided for under this Bill.
Many minor difficulties may arise in dealing with the various Clauses specifying boundaries, and those applying to 991 finance and the setting up of Committees. Cases may arise which have not been provided for but they can be dealt with by the Minister and his officials in a perfectly simple and easy way. We have been told that Sub-section (2) of this Bill is ineffective and will never be used. That may be so, but this is not the occasion to try and make the procedure of the House either effective or otherwise. The proper way to deal with matters of that sort would be by a party conference in agreement with the Speaker. What we are now discussing is merely a formula to be found in other Acts of Parliament. We do not go beyond that formula, and what is suggested does not constitute a breach of the prerogatives of this House.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
We have had a very interesting discussion, and I am sure hon. Members will agree with me when I say that the time devoted to this question has been well spent. I am aware that what is proposed seems to be opposed to a constitutional principle and against the law as we know it. The Minister of Health has already stated that this Amendment raises questions which have arisen on a number of very important Measures which have been passed by this House. The real reason why we need such a Clause in a number of statutes is that you may have difficulties of a technical character arise under the Bill when it becomes an Act, such as we know have already arisen under the National Insurance Act and the Widows' and Orphans' Contributory Pensions Act. There must be certain circumstances arise either in connection with the administration or with any obvious defect in the drafting of a Clause, where it would be ludicrous to suggest that in order to carry out the intentions of Parliament and to bring the Act into operation the Minister should not have an opportunity by issuing an Order which would be subject to review by this House to put that matter right rather than have to go to the trouble of promoting a Bill which might take a very long time indeed.
I remember the difficulties which arose when the National Insurance Act was before the House of Commons in connection with the deposit contributors. Upon that occasion, some technical difficulty 992 arose, and, in order to place some particular benefits at the disposal of deposit contributors, power was given to the Minister to issue an Order to remedy what was an obvious difficulty in the Bill-Similar circumstancess arose in the administration of the Widows' Pensions Act, and it was doubtful whether certain insured persons came within the phraseology of a certain section of that Measure. In order to put the matter right immediately, and in order to secure that. those insured (persons should have the full benefit which was intended by Parliament, an Order was made in pursuance of a Section in the Act which follows the lines of the Clause which we have inserted in this Bill. We are now discussing an obvious difficulty which ought to be put right at once, and the course we have taken follows out the intentions of Parliament. Any Order which may be issued can be immediately challenged if hon. Members think anything wrong has been done. It is in order to overcome that difficulty that we have introduced this Clause, which appears in so many other Acts of Parliament. A case might arise in which a person would not be able to comply with the Act within the stipulated period, and it would be ridiculous to suggest that under such cir cumstances the Minister should not be able to put that matter right.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
The fame difficulty has arisen in connection with the Unemployment Insurance Act in the case of people who reach 65 years of age.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I am suggesting that it would be ridiculous in the case I have mentioned to promote a Bill to put that matter right. I have read the discussion which took place upon the National Health Insurance Bill in 1911 when a Clause in the same phraseology as the one we are discussing was supported by hon. Members opposite. The hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson) seems to take an extreme view upon this question, but I think he goes a little too far. This is a matter about which the House should be careful, but I think that, legislating, as we are, in 1929, we must have a provision of this kind in order to meet a sudden emergency which may arise when we are simply following out the enactment of Parliament itself. I submit to the Committee that it has been found use- 993 ful, and that there has never been any case of its abuse.
§ Major PRICE
Does my right hon. Friend suggest that the only difficulties which can be removed under this provision are technical and administrative difficulties, and no others?
§ Sir K. WOOD
No; I am simply giving illustrations such as occur to me. If the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities will refer to the Report, he will see the exact case to which I have referred, and he will find that, unless this Clause had been in operation, a large number of insured people would have had to wait to get their benefits until the whole apparatus of a Parliamentary Bill had been put into operation.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
This Clause, if any difficulty arises, gives power, as we should expect, to remove the difficulty, but it also says that, if any difficulty arises, the Minister, by order, may not only remove the difficulty, but may also do other things. The Clause gives him power to do things which do not arise. If any difficulty arises, he may remove the difficulty, and he may also make any appointment or do any other thing which appears to him necessary or expedient. Would the Parliamentary Secretary explain to us why, in addition to the power to remove a difficulty, there is also the power to make appointments or do other things?
§ Sir K. WOOD
It is not only that. The Clause says:If any difficulty arises in connection with the application of this Act to any exceptional area, or in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act,the Minister may do certain things. [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to complete my observation, because I think it will meet their point. My right hon. Friend has heard the suggestions and criticisms which have been made in various quarters of the Committee in reference to this Clause, and he will, between now and the Report stage, consider those suggestions and any others that any hon. Member may care to make to him. with a view to amending this Clause if he is satisfied that it is necessary in order to bring it more into conformity with what we all desire, namely that some provision should be made to meet such an emer- 994 geney or difficulty; at the same time, quite rightly, reserving to Parliament its rights and privileges of which we are quite properly jealous. If any hon. Member likes to make any suggestion in this direction between now and the Report stage my right hon. Friend will be very glad to consider it, and will then review the drafting of the Clause in the light of this discussion and of any suggestions that may be made. The discussion has at any rate served a useful purpose, and it is, of course, the desire of my right hon. Friend to meet, so far as he can, the wishes that have been expressed.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
The Parliamentary Secretary has just given an interpretation of this Clause which reopens the matter in a very serious aspect. I should like to ask why, in addition to removing any difficulty that arises, the Minister is to have power to make any appointment or do any other thing which appears to him necessary or expedient. The second limb of the Clause does not, as I understand it, deal with any difficulty, but says:in bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.The whole case of the Minister of Health was that the wordsIf any difficulty arisesgoverned both things, but, if the Parliamentary Secretary is right, it means that, in connection with the bringing into operation of the provisions of the Act, he can do all of these things even when a difficulty has not arisen. I do not think that that is the. meaning; I think that the Minister is right, and that the words, "If any difficulty arises," do govern both the application of the Act to an exceptional area and the case of a difficulty in bringing into operation any of the provisions of the Act. But, even if that be so, as I believe it is, the question still arises that the Minister can not only remove the difficulty, but can make appointments and do other things. Surely it is sufficient if the difficulty is removed, and the whole value of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson) was that his Amendment limited the power specifically to dealing with the difficulty as such, and took away these general powers, and also took away what is even more serious, though nothing has been 995 said to deal with it, namely, the power to alter an Act of Parliament by a subsequent Order of the Minister. That cannot be defended on any ground.
The Government will be given sufficient powers if they accept the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member's Amendment, and I think myself that, if that suggestion receives serious consideration between now and the Report stage, we might be content with the discussion that we have had. I hope, however, that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will take this matter very seriously; it is not a frivolous matter or a pet theory of my own. No one who has spoken in this discussion, with the exception of one of my hon. and learned Friends—and I confess that, although I followed his assumptions, I cannot follow his conclusions—who has not condemned the Clause as it stands. It admittedly gives more power than is necessary; it gives power to do things, when difficulties arise, other than the removal of the difficulties. Admittedly it gives power by a Ministerial Order to amend an existing Act of Parliament. No one can take these powers lightly, or say that to object to them is a pet theory or a fad or anything of that sort. This matter is not theoretical; it is practical and actual. The precedents quoted by the Parliamentary Secretary deal with specific matters, like the alteration of boundaries. The only case that he made is the worst of all, namely, that of the National Health Insurance Act. That Act was the root of all evil in this matter, because it was the first Measure, introduced into the House of Commons by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), which gave the Government unlimited powers to do what they liked by Order. Before that, the House had been very jealous of that power, and I attribute the whole of this bureaucratic legislation to that Act. At that time no one was more opposed to that Measure, on this very ground, than those who are now called the Conservative party. The hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) twitted me with being a Conservative. I cannot repeat the compliment; he is a very dangerous and despotic bureaucrat.
§ Mr. ROBERT HUDSON
The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. 996 Griffith) said that the complication of local government and the deep-rooted character of its nature were an argument in favour of not giving the Minister these extensive powers. I should have thought that common sense dictated the very opposite, and that the very complexity of local government, and the deep-rooted character of its nature, make it necessary to give these powers to deal with exceptional cases. The hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Bye) suggested that the Ministry of Health knew of all the exceptional eases in the country. The Ministry of Health have very extensive knowledge, but surely it is assuming a very great deal to imagine that there are no survivals which have not been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Health—
§ Mr. RYE
I never suggested that there were no difficulties; what I suggested was that they are mainly covered by the provisions of the Bill in which powers are reserved to the Ministry, and that any other cases, where powers are not so reserved, can be dealt with in the ordinary constitutional way by an amending Act.
§ Mr. HUDSON
If the hon. Member had allowed me to continue my sentence, I was going to explain that there is a number of survivals mostly of that nature. The Minister of Health quoted one to-day, a survival from mediaeval days, which is not covered by any of the other provisions to which the hon. Member for Loughborough referred, and I am very glad to notice that the Minister considers that this would be a proper subject to be dealt with under this Clause. If it were not, it would be impossible, in the particular area concerned, to carry out the obvious intention of Parliament, and it would be necessary to go through the cumbrous procedure of passing a special Act to deal with a small area, with the possibility that such special Act could not be passed by the time that the main Act comes into operation. It is in order to meet these survivals, which are not by any means unique, but of which there may quite conceivably be a large number in the course of the next six months, that I think this Clause is essential.
§ Mr. WITHERS
The Minister having stated that he is going to consider this matter between now and the Report stage, there is really nothing more to be 997 said. I was particularly asked, however, by the Law Society to bring to the notice of the Minister this question of modifying an Act of Parliament by Order, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has had a communication from that body on the subject. All the arguments which have been brought forward in favour of including this Clause in the Act would apply to all other Acts. It is said that it is necessary because the matter is intricate, but, as a matter of fact, the mere general an Act of Parliament the more difficult of application it is, and therefore there is really no reason why, if the Clause be included in this Act, a standing Clause of this kind should not be put into every Act. That is a really dangerous constitutional position.
With deference, I would ask the Minister to consider the question of constitutional usage in these Bills that he brings forward. I do not want to refer to unpleasant incidents which have occurred in the past, but would draw attention to the attitude that he took up on the Eating and Valuation Bill with regard to application to the Court ex parte by the Minister. He assured us here that the position was covered by various precedents, and they were read out, and the Whips were put on against us and the Clause was passed in the teeth of our opposition. When, however, it went to another place, the right view was put forward, and without the slightest hesitation the Clause was turned down by everyone. Therefore, I would ask Ministers, who are supposed to be jealous of our privileges, really to consider, before they put in Clauses of this kind, which might just as well be put into every Act of Parliament. While I am very pleased indeed that the Minister is going to consider the matter further, I hope he will decide very much to modify this particular Clause.
§ Major PRICE
I would ask the Committee not to be led away by the argument brought forward to refute this Amendment, that, because no advantage had been taken of this power, no advantage ever would be taken of it. There is no definition at all of what is a difficulty. The arguments of the Parliamentary Secretary were directed to the kind of technical and administrative difficulties which he says the Clause is intended to remove. We can all realise 998 that in a Bill of this complexity there must be administrative and technical difficulties and special cases which have to be met, but surely it is not beyond the wit of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to devise words which would confine the Minister's powers to those difficulties which are likely to arise. Here the Minister is given power to amend any Act if he finds a difficulty of any sort in carrying it into force, and that is such a wide power that the House of Commons should jealously prevent its being put into the hands of any Minister. It is for that reason that one feels that this Clause goes beyond any precedent that has ever happened. Precedents have an extraordinary way of broadening as they come down the line, until a precedent will be established under which you will get a Clause which enables the general principle of an Act to be put into force and then a power for the Minister to do what he pleases in carrying the Act out. This comes very near it. The Clause says:If any difficulty arises.The only qualifying words are:Bringing into operation any of the provisions of this Act.One can imagine hundreds of difficulties which could arise, and the Minister has to say whether they are difficulties or not. There is no power for us to go to the Courts for a definition of a difficulty. The only power that is given to the whole of the country or to this House is such power as may be contained in Subsection (2). I am certain the Minister can, if he will, find a way out of the difficulty and confine his powers to constitutional powers and none other.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I beg to move, in page 93, line 5, to leave out the words "or do any other thing."
I move this formally in order to ask that the Minister will consider the matter between now and the Report stage. I understood him to say he would.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
As I understood the sense of the Committee generally—I am not expressing the exact meaning 999 of every individual Member who spoke—the necessity for some such Clause as this is appreciated. A number of hon. Members have thought the drafting of the Clause was not altogether fortunate, and that it gives the Minister wider powers than he himself intended to assume. I, myself, see that the Clause might be drafted in a somewhat different way, and my right hon. Friend and I have undertaken that we will examine the drafting
§ of the Clause again, and see if we cannot amend it in such a way as to make clearer what the intentions are, and in that way remove some of the doubts and apprehensions which hon. Members have expressed.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 125.1001
|Division No. 138.]||AYES.||[5.49 p.m.|
|Albery. Irving James||Ellis, R. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Meller, R. J.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Atkinson, C.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden,|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fermoy, Lord||Monsell, Eyres. Com. Rt. Hon. B. M|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fielden, E. G.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Balniel, Lord||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Frece, Sir Waiter de||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Berry, Sir George||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Bethel, A.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Oakley, T.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Ganzoni, Sir John||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gates, Percy||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Braithwalte, Major A. N.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Greenwood, Rt.Hn.Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hacking, Douglas H.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Brocklebank. C. E. R.||Hammersley, S. S.||Preston, Sir Walter (Cheltenham)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harland, A.||Preston, William|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Hartington, Marquess of||Radford, E. A.|
|Brown, Brig-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Buckingham. Sir H.||Haslam, Henry C.||Ramsden, E.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Burman, J. B.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hills, Major John Waller||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hoare, Lt.-Col Rt. Hon Sir S. J. G||Rodd, Rt. Hon. sir James Rennell|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cayzer Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Russell. Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Salmon, Major l.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. univ.)||Horne, Rt. Hon Sir Robert S.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Sandon, Lord|
|Christle, J. A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Colfox, Major William Phillips||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Haliam)|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Couper, J. B.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Lamb, J. O.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester. Crewe)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Spender-Clay. Colonel H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Loder, J. de V.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Crookshank. Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Looker, Herbert William||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon, G. F.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lougher, Lewis||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Luce, Ma)or-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Davies. Dr. Vernon||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mac Andrew, Major Charles Gien||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (l. of W.)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Dean, Arthur Weliesley||Macintyre, l.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Drewe, C.||McLean, Major A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacRobert, Alexandtr M.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Malone, Major P. B.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Waddington, R.||Williams, Corp C. (Devon, Torquay)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonal George|
|Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Wolmer, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watts, Sir Thomas||Womersley, W. J.||Major The Marquess of Titchfield|
|Wells, S. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley||and Captain Wallace.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Scurr, John|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, Jarnes|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Hirst, G. H.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shinwell, E.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Barnes, A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barr, J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Siesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Batey, Joseph||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Bellamy, A.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stewart, J. (St. Roilox)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Sullivan, J.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Bromfield, William||Kennedy, T.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thomas, Rt Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lansbury, George||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawrence, Susan||Thorne, W. (West Ham, plaistow)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Thurtie, Ernest|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Longbottom, A. W.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lowth, T.||Townend, A. E.|
|Connolly, M||Lunn, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Mackinder, W.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Maclean, Nell (Giasgow. Govan)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dennison, R.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Duncan, C.||March, S.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Morris, R. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|England, Colonel A.||Murnin, H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Forrest, W.||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W,||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Windsor, Walter|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Giamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Scrymgeour, E.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|