HC Deb 27 May 1935 vol 302 cc888-95

9.19 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 87, line 13, at the end, to insert: (2) The Governor-General shall not give his sanction to the introduction of any Bill or the moving of any amendment imposing in any year any such Federal surcharge as aforesaid unless he is satisfied that all practicable economies and all practicable measures for otherwise increasing the proceeds of Federal taxation or the portion thereof retainable by the Federation would not result in the balancing of Federal receipts and expenditure on revenue account in that year. This may appear to be a rather formidable Amendment, but in fact it transfers to the body of the Bill what has been proposed in paragraph 23 of the Instrument of Instructions. The Governor-General has to satisfy himself that all practical economies have been made and all practical steps taken for increasing the proceeds of Federal taxation.

9.29 p.m.


The right hon. Member has not given us any reason why this should be taken from the Instrument of Instructions and put into the Bill. Indeed, it is most undesirable to put a provision of this kind in the Bill because it is so very vague. What is meant by "practicable economies." You may have a view of what are "practicable economies" by hon. Members of this House. In the case of the May Committee they had their views on what were practicable economies, but when it came to giving effect to them it was discovered that they were not politically practicable economies. That was indeed the view of the majority of the Members when they came face to face with their constituents. I think there must be some better words than these, because what may be "practicable economies" from the point of view of making a saving here and there may not be practicable economies in certain political circumstances, and I suggest that there is no reason why this provision should be taken from the Instrument of Instructions and put into the body of the Bill.

9.22 p.m.


The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) is a little captious. He has omitted some rather important words. The Amendment Gays, "unless he is satisfied." If it had said "unless all practicable economies had been taken," that would raise a difficult point because it would leave doubt as to who was to decide the question. The Clause says "unless he is satisfied," and "he" is the person to decide what is practicable and what is not practicable. That is very familiar language in our own law, which constantly provides that "unless the court is satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken." Unless you have the person or body who is to be satisfied stated the difficulties of the hon. Member would be present, but, inasmuch as you have one person who is to settle the question, he has to be satisfied and it is perfectly plain.

9.23 p.m.


I am not quite clear about this matter, and I rather agree with the hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee). At the same time he was venturing into something about which he did not know very much when he referred to the Private Members Economy Committee and the action of back benchers then. It was not for lack of any courage on their part that the recommendations were not given effect to. But what does this Amendment mean? In this House no back bencher, perhaps I had better say no private Member as it is a more comprehensive term and includes all back benchers, is permitted to propose an amendment which imposes a charge on the subject. I do not know whether we are trying to set up Parliamentary procedure or sanctioning a method of safeguard. If it is Parliamentary procedure then it would be better to do it by Parliamentary procedure. The Governor-General here is the Governor-General without qualification. He is not "Governor-General in his discretion," or "in the exercise of his individual judgment." It is the Governor-General without any qualification and, therefore, he is acting on the advice of his Ministers. That is, I think, a fair interpretation of the words: Shall not give his sanction to the introduction of any Bill or the moving of any Amendment. If the Legislative Assembly in Delhi has the same procedure in these matters as we have then quite clearly nobody can move an Amendment except on the recommendation of the Crown, that is, through a Minister representing the Crown. The existing procedure in this House provides what we are seeking to impose on India—


The hon. Member realises, of course, that this applies to the "Governor-General in his discretion," as mentioned in Sub-section(1).


That is Sub-section (1). This is Sub-section (2), which is governed by Sub-section (1). In Subsection (1) you say something must not be done without the sanction of "the Governor-General in his discretion." Then you insert another Sub-section in which you say nothing about the Governor-General in his discretion. If you put those words at the end of the Clause, it rules the whole Clause, but at the end of a Sub-section it rules only that Sub-section, and has no bearing on the other Sub-section. I know no one is more skilful than the Attorney-General in trying to laugh away a good point when you have made one, but he knows perfectly well I have made a good point.


One of your worst.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman is busily engaged trying to laugh away the point I have made. It was not I who put two in brackets on the Order Paper. It was put there by the Parliamentary draftsmen, with the consent of the learned Attorney-General. Therefore the words "in his discretion" do not in the least govern Sub-section (2). We have had a great many examples in this Bill of draftsmanship, and in any case where the draftsmen want the words "in his discretion" to govern the whole of the Clause, they have put them at the end. Where the words "in his discretion" are put in one Sub-section only it makes it perfectly clear that in the Sub-section where the words do not appear the Governor-General must act on the advice of his ministers. I hope the learned Attorney-General, in spite of his merriment a minute ago, will be in a, position to answer the very definite point I put before the House.

9.27 p.m.


I should have thought it perfectly clear that the words "the Governor-General in his discretion" govern this Sub-section. The last words in the previous Sub-section are except with the previous sanction of the Governor-General in his discretion. This Sub-section begins: The Governor-General shall not give his sanction. It cannot conceivably mean anything except the sanction referred to in the previous Sub-section. That is, however, not the point I wanted to make. This Sub-section (2) is obviously laying down an instruction to the Governor-General how he shall exercise his discretion. Surely that is not a matter to put into a constitutional Statute. That is eminently a matter to put in the directions to the Governor-General. It is not laying down whether or not he shall use discretion, but it is saying "After giving this sanction, which is in your discretion, this is the way in which we want you to use your discretion." I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney- General will agree that in laying down a Constitution you do not want to put in as part of the Constitution how the Governor-General should use his discretion. You want to instruct him in his instructions how to use his discretion. All you want in any Constitution is that he shall use his discretion. Surely it will be wiser to leave this Sub-section where it was before, that is in the Instructions to the Governor-General, and not to put it in as part of the constitutional Statute itself.

9.29 p.m.


I naturally admire the wisdom of the two learned Gentlemen who have given us the legal interpretation of these words, but I must confess, as a layman, that to me the words "in his discretion" do not actually govern this Sub-section.


They do.


Very well, I am satisfied on that point. There is something to be said for the point the hon. and gallant Gentleman raised in regard to the expression "all practicable economies." It seems to me a very difficult matter to bring into the body of a Bill, and I rather agree that if it were in the Instructions it would be easier to understand. I presume that the Government want these words embodied in the Bill for the simple reason that there have been certain very glaring cases where we have had to consider a situation such as this. In Ceylon the Finance Minister in the comparatively new democratic constitution there has had several times to impose his will as far as possible on the Government, and I think that the fact that practicable economies were not introduced has resulted in the serious Budget position. A similar thing happened in Newfoundland where, in the oldest democratic institution in the British Empire, the Government-had to take all their powers from them. There you have a situation such as is contemplated in this Clause. I presume it is because the Government do fear that ministers in this new Parliamentary institution will run riot, will be extravagant, will not have due regard to economies, that they think it is necessary to bring this into the body of the Bill. I hope hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches will not carry their hostilities to a Division, because if we look all round the question it is desirable that we should take cognisance that this situation is almost certain to arise.


I hope we shall be told clearly why this matter has been removed from the Instrument of Instructions. At first sight it seems much more suitable to be in the Instructions to the Governor than in a Bill setting up the Constitution.

9.32 p.m.


There is nothing serious about this change, nor has it arty relevance to the observations just made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). These words have excited a great deal of discussion. They were the actual words agreed between the representatives of the Princes and the representatives of British India at the last Round Table Conference and they were confirmed, as far as I remember, during the deliberations with the Indian Delegation to the Joint Select.

Committee. So far, therefore, as the words are concerned, there is a substantial body of Indian agreement behind them. The question then arises whether it is better to put them in the Instrument of Instructions or in the body of the Bill. Originally we put them into the Instrument of Instructions. The Princes' representatives then took the view that they would greatly prefer to have them put into the body of the Bill. We took the view that there was no difference in principle between the two methods. The words were agreed between us, and, that being so, as the Princes attach great importance to having them in the body of the Bill rather than in the Instrument of Instructions, we propose that they should be in the body of the Bill. That is the whole story.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill.".

The House divided Ayes, 199; Noes, 28.

Division No. 218.] AYES. [9.35 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Kerr, Hamilton W.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Emmott, Charles E.G.C. Kirkpatrick, William M.
Albery, Irving James Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Knox, Sir Alfred
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Leckie, J. A.
Aske, Sir Robert William Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Leech, Dr. J. W.
Assheton, Ralph Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lees-Jones, John
Astbury, Lieut.-Corn. Frederick Wolfe Fleming, Edward Lascelles Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Atholl, Duchess of Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Lewis, Oswald
Bossom, A. C. Fox, Sir Gifford Lindsay, Noel Ker
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Fuller, Captain A. G. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Brass, Captain Sir William Ganzoni, Sir John Llewellin, Major John J.
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Gluckstein, Louis Halle Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Broadbent, Colonel John Goldie, Noel B. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Goodman, Colonel Albert W. MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (BerkS., Newb'y) Gower, Sir Robert MacAndrew, Major J. O. (Ayr)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Graves, Marjorie Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Burghley, Lord Greene, William P. C. McLean, Major Sir Alan
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Butter, Richard Austen Grimston, R. V. Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Butt, Sir Alfred Gunston, Captain D. W. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. B.
Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hammersley, Samuel S. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Harris, Sir Percy Mellor, Sir J. S. P.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A (Chippenham) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Conant, R. J. E. Hepworth, Joseph O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Cooke, Douglas Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Copeland, Ida Herbert, Capt. S.(Abbey Division) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Orr Ewing, I. L.
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Owen, Major Goronwy
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Hornby, Frank Patrick, Colin M.
Cranborne, Viscount Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Peake, Osbert
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Penny, Sir George
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Percy, Lord Eustace
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Perkins, Walter R. D.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Petherick, M.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)
Davison, Sir William Henry Jesson, Major Thomas E. Pickering, Ernest H.
Dickie, John p. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Procter, Major Henry Adam Savory, Servington Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Radford, E. A. Shuts, Colonel Sir John Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast) Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D Train, John
Ramsbotham, Herwald Smith, Sir J. Walker-(Barrow-in-F.) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Ramsden, Sir Eugene Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Rankin, Robert Somervell, Sir Donald Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Rea, Walter Russell Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Watt, Major George Steven H.
Remer, John R. Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Wayland, Sir William A.
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. White, Henry Graham.
Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) Spencer, Captain Richard A. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertl'd)
Robinson, John Roland Spent, William Patrick Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ropner, Colonel L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Stewart, J. Henderson (File, E.) Womersley, Sir Walter
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir Edward Stones, James Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Rutherford, John(Edmonton) Storey, Samuel
Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Salmon, Sir Isidore Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Samuel, M. R. A. (W'ds'wth, Putney) Sutcliffe, Harold Dr. Morris-Jones.
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Tate, Mavis Constance
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Edwards, Charles Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Attlee, Clement Richard Gardner, Benjamin Walter Mainwaring, William Henry
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Milner, Major. James
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cleary, J. J. Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Grundy, Thomas W. Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York., Don Valley)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert
Debbie, William Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. John and Mr. McEntee.