HC Deb 01 April 1935 vol 300 cc165-9

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

10.51 p.m.

Viscount WOLMER

This Clause really raises the same principle in a more extreme form, and perhaps this will give the Attorney-General an opportunity of making the position clear. The point of the Clause is quite simple but here we are really faced with one of the fundamental difficulties of Federation; and even after all the time spent on Clause 200 I am not quite clear that I do not think the Committee are clear as to how far it extends. Clause 201 raises a very simple, direct issue, though a vitally important one. It says: Where in any case the Federal Court require a special case to be stated or restated by, or remit a case to, a High Court in a Federated State, or require the aid of the civil or judicial authorities in a Federated State, the Federal Court shall cause letters of request in that behalf to be sent to the Ruler of the State, and the Ruler shall cause such communication to be made to the High Court or to any judicial or civil authority as the circumstances may require. The question I want to ask the Attorney-General is what would happen if the Ruler of a State refused to obey that Clause? If he will tell me that he will tell me exactly what the effect of the Clause is.

10.53 p.m.


This Clause is framed in this way in order that the appropriate phrase, "letters of request" may be used in regard to a Sovereign Ruler instead of the expression of a direct order to, or something of that sort. Any lawyer is familiar with the expression "letters of request," which is a phrase used when one Sovereign Ruler has to make a communication to another with regard to the performance of some act necessary for the administration of justice in the first of the two countries. In this Clause it is merely an enactment to show proper respect to a Sovereign Ruler, without the necessity of an order being directed to him to state a case, that letters of request shall be addressed to him. Then I am asked what is to happen if a Ruler does not comply with the request contained in the last two or three lines of the Clause. I entirely decline to contemplate that a Ruler will not comply with the request. It is found in practice between Sovereign States that when letters of request are addressed it is not customary to decline to act upon them, and I do not think that that situation will arise.

10.54 p.m.

Viscount WOLMER

I am rying to find out whether the Ruler of a Federated State is in the position of a functionary of the Federation or whether he is an independent Sovereign. My right hon. Friend really has no right to draw back in a tone of voice as if I was saying something either indecent or grossly disrespectful to the whole order of Princes. That is not the point at all. The point is that when you are revising a Constitution it is an elementary consideration that you should see that the thing reads, as it were. You should see, in constructing the machine, that the cogwheels fit and that you are putting on the Statute Book a Clause which is capable of being worked. Every Constitution, every working machine, has some outward sanction. If the Attorney-General, to take a concrete instance, was instructed by the proper authorities to do something which it was his duty to do, and he refused, there is a remedy known to the British Constitution. I am not suggesting that my right hon. and learned Friend would ever be so forgetful of his duty as to put himself in such a position; I am only pointing out that if he refused to carry out an order given him by the proper authority to do something which it was his duty to do, there is a complete remedy known to our Constitution. He would lose his job, and another Atttorney-General would be found in his place.

What is the outward sanction here? What is going to happen if a Ruler refuses to carry out his instructions? The importance of this point is that from the beginning there has been confusion or thought as to whether this is to be a Federation of independent sovereign States or whether all the members of the Federation are members of one political entity. That difficulty will crop up at various points, and we are certainly bound to examine them wherever they do crop up. If you slur over them in discussing them in this Bill, you will not remove the difficulty, which will crop up directly you try to put the Federation into being or directly the Princes have been able to examine the matter further with the aid of their legal advisers. Therefore, I say it is monstrous for the Attorney-General to treat this as a most improper question to bring up or as something which, if I was a. decently minded person, I should not think of doing. I want to know how sanction is to be given to this Clause. Is the Ruler of the State.

a functionary of the Federation or an independent sovereign?


This is such an important point that I hope the Attorney-General will reply.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 211; Noes, 27.

Division No.134.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Fraser, Captain Sir Ian McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Albery, Irving James Fremantle, Sir Francis McKie, John Hamilton
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Fuller, Captain A. G. McLean, Major Sir Alan
Aske, Sir Robert William Gardner, Benjamin Walter Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Assheton, Ralph Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Attlee, Clement Richard George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Mainwaring, William Henry
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gillett, Sir George Masterman Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Balniel, Lord Gluckstain, Louis Halle Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Goff, Sir Park Martin, Thomas B.
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Goldle, Noel B. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Bateman, A. L. Gower, Sir Robert Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Batey, Joseph Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Milne, Charles
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Milner, Major James
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Grimston, R. V. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Blindell, James Groves, Thomas E. Moors, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Boulton, W. W. Grundy, Thomas W. Moreing, Adrian C.
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Gunston, Captain D. W. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Morrison, William Shepherd
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hammersley, Samuel S. Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hanbury, Cecil Munro, Patrick
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Burghley, Lord Harvey, Major Sir Samuel (Totnes) Orr Ewing, I. L.
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Paling, Wilfred
Burnett, John George Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Palmer, Francis Noel
Butler, Richard Austen Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Parkinson, John Allen
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hicks, Ernest George Patrick, Colin M.
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Pearson, William G.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Penny, Sir George
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hornby, Frank Percy, Lord Eustace
Cleary, J. J. Horsbrugh, Florence Petherick, M.
Colman, N. C. D. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Conant, R. J. E. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Cook, Thomas A. Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsbotham, Herwald
Cooper, A. Duff Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Ramsden, Sir Eugene
Copeland, Ida James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Rathbone, Eleanor
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L Jamieson, Douglas Rea, Walter Russell
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jenkins, Sir William Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Crooke, J. Smedley John, William Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Ropner, Colonel L.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Ker, J. Campbell Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Cross, R. H. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Kerr, Hamilton W. Salmon, Sir Isidore
Daggar, George Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Sandys, Duncan
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lawson, John James Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Davies, Stephen Owen Leckie, J. A. Smith, Sir J. Walker-(Barrow-in-F.)
Dickle, John P. Leech, Dr. J. W. Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Duckworth, George A. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Somervell, Sir Donald
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Liddall, Walter S. Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E:
Duggan, Hubert John Lindsay, Noel Ker Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Dunglass, Lord Llewellin, Major John J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Eastwood, John Francis Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Stevenson, James
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Loder, Captain J. de Vere Stones, James
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Loftus, Pierce C. Storey, Samuel
Eimley, Viscount Logan, David Gilbert Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Strickland, Captain W. F.
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ) Lunn, William Sutcliffe, Harold
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Mabane, William Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Fleming, Edward Lasceiles Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Tinker, John Joseph
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Whiteside, Borras Noel H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Worthington, Dr. John V.
Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Wilmot, John Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Waterhouse, Captain Charles Wilson, Lt..-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd) and Sir Walter Womersley.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. (Blackpool) Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Atholl, Duchess of Everard, W. Lindsay Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Broadbent, Colonel John Greene, William P. C. Wells, Sydney Richard
Brown, Brig-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hartington, Marquess of Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Wise, Alfred R.
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Knox, Sir Alfred Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Davison, Sir William Henry Lees-Jones, John
Donner, P. W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Remer, John R. Mr. Raikes and Mr. Lennox-Boyd.

Resolution agreed to.