HC Deb 27 May 1935 vol 302 cc806-8

4.49 p.m.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I beg to move, in page 35, line 41, to leave out from "his," to the end of the Clause, and to insert: discretion with respect to that proposal provided that the Governor shall not make, repeal, or amend or approve the making, repeal, or amendment of any rules, regulations, or orders as aforesaid without the previous consent of the Governor-General given by him in his discretion. Everyone who is familiar with the police evidence laid before the Joint Select Committee will remember what importance witnesses attached to no alteration in the rules regarding their service being made without the consent of the Governor. This Amendment would strengthen Clause 56 in three respects. In the first place, it would make clear that the Governor was to exercise his discretion rather than his individual judgment in the matter. We know that the difference between those two phrases means that "in his discretion" the Governor does not have to consult his Ministers, but if he exercises "his individual judgment" he has to consult his Ministers first, and in a matter of this kind it might be difficult for him in the latter case to make the decision that he felt was best.

The second respect in which the Amendment would strengthen the Clause is that, as the Clause stands, the Governor has only power to object to an alteration of the rules which would affect the organisation or discipline of the police force. The police committee showed themselves particularly anxious about the retention in full of their present powers. The Clause would give the Governor no power to object to any rule which was going to reduce the existing powers of the police force, and that seems to me a very important respect in which the Amendment would propose to strengthen the Clause. Finally, the Amendment would require the previous consent of the Governor-General given by him in his discretion to an alteration of the rules. That again seems important, because the Governor might be in a. very difficult position. We have to remember that, unlike the Governor-General, he has no counsellors whatever to advise him. He is a lone figure with no responsible persons around him at all. Therefore, it may be extremely difficult for him to be fully apprised of everything that is relevant to the matters that may be proposed to him, and it may be very difficult for him to stand up against the pressure of Ministers who may wish to have a rule altered. It seems to me very desirable that in that case there should be the Governor-General behind him.


I beg to second the Amendment.

4.53 p.m.


This Amendment is unnecessary in my view, and, if it were inserted, it would be unworkable. It would be quite unworkable for the Governor to have to pass all the alterations and all the police rules. I have never heard the representative of any police association make a demand for such powers, and I wonder if my Noble Friend, if I may still so call her—


Not technically.


Then I had better substitute the phrase "the Noble Lady." I wonder if the Noble Lady has ever studied these rules. They are encyclopaedic; they go into volumes of hundreds of pages, and it would be totally impossible for a Governor to follow, or to wish to follow alterations in all these innumerable rules, many of which have nothing to do with the morale or the organisation of the police. Still more impossible would it be for the Governor-General. I suggest to the House that in a case of this kind the Governor ought to be acting on his individual judgment rather than in his discretion. I disagree with the Noble Lady that this is the kind of case in which you should exclude the Ministers. It seems to me to be just the kind of case in which, in the first instance, the Governor, who presumably will be following very closely what is happening in the Provincial Government and will probably be presiding at Ministers' meetings, should have consultation with his Ministers before he takes his final action. I hope the House will not accept the Amendment, therefore.

Duchess of ATHOLL

If the Minister feels that the task of following all the amendments to the rules that might be proposed would be too much for the Governor, and if he feels that any decision should be taken by the Governor after consultation with the Ministers, would he consider widening the existing Clause in order to give the Governor power to object to any alteration of the powers of the police?


He already has a locus standi in the question of powers as well.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Is the word "powers" included in the word "organisation"?

Amendment negatived.