HC Deb 11 July 1939 vol 349 cc2121-3

6.12 p.m.

Captain Hudson

I beg to move, in page 7, line 11, after "implements," to insert: A living van for the accommodation of the persons employed in connection with the vehicle. Although it may seem somewhat strange to say so, this is a drafting Amendment. The words were left out when the Bill was printed, owing to a mistake for which I apologise. The Clause purports to set out the law as it stands, and it is incomplete without these words.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

I do not think we have had a sufficient explanation of this Amendment. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to make it a little clearer.

Captain Hudson

I had hoped that the matter was fairly clear. I apologise to the House for the fact that the Amendment has to be a manuscript Amendment, but we discovered only this morning that the words in question had been left out. Paragraph (a, i) of Sub-section (1) of Clause 10, if these words are included, will read as follows: for hauling their own necessary gear, threshing appliances, farming implements, a living van for the accommodation of the persons employed in connection with the vehicle, or supplies of water or fuel required for the purposes of the vehicle or for agricultural purposes. If we left out those words it would mean that the living van would be out of the Bill. I apologise for taking the time of the House over a matter which ought not to have come before it at all.

6.16 p.m.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has given us a very fair explanation. What I understand is that in some previous Act the words he proposed to include were not there at first, and later were put in. Therefore, he wants to have both the original words and these subsequent words included. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I am quite prepared to admit that I am probably wrong. I am explaining how I understood the hon. and gallant Member. It is because I am in the dark about it that I make my objections. If any hon. Member can explain what is the position, I shall be glad to listen to him.

Sir Herbert Williams

I accept the right hon. Gentleman's invitation to explain the position. In the printing of this Bill, in quoting from another Act of Parliament, certain words were inadvertently left out. All my hon. and gallant Friend is trying to do is to put in what the printers left out. That does not involve any question of principle.

6.18 p.m.

Captain Hudson

If the right hon. Gentleman looks at Clause 10, he will see that it says: In paragraph 4 of the Second Schedule to the Finance Act, 1920 (which, as amended by the Seventh Schedule to the Finance Act, 1933 prescribes the rate of duty payable under Section thirteen of the Finance Act, 1920, in respect of the mechanically propelled vehicles therein mentioned), for sub-paragraph (a) there shall be substituted the following sub-paragraph. … For purpose of clarity we set out how the paragraph from the Act of 1920 should now read. I inquired of the draftsman whether we should also put in "and the Finance Act, 1935," but I am told by him that it is not necessary. This Amendment sets out exactly what the law is at present. It is put in in order to save people having to look back to different amending Acts, going back to 1920. These words were merely left out by error.

Mr. Watkins

I am still very much in doubt as to the real meaning of the proposal. I remember that when this part of the Finance Bill was before the House previously, it was explained at some length that this part of the duty was specifically and only for agricultural vehicles in and about a farm. If so, why should the Clause include a reference to a living van, which is used for travelling. The words "living van" indicate that there is a staff attached to the implement, who would live in the van, and that a certain amount of travelling would be involved.

Mr. McCorquodale

The hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) suggests that the fault lay with the printer. I am a printer, and I protest. He has blamed the printer without any evidence.

6.21 p.m.

Mr. Ede

Is it not plain that the person who drafted this Clause had an un-amended copy of one of the Acts in front of him, in which these words had not been inserted.

Captain Hudson

I said so in apologising.

Mr. Ede

The hon. and gallant Gentleman did not make the confession quite as plain as that. Is he quite sure that the copies of the various Acts that are used in his Department are brought up to date from time to time, so as to include all the Amendments we spend our time in making? I remember that last September, when it was proposed to evacuate certain children from London into Surrey, the Government Department responsible for the evacuation relied on a statement of the county districts in Surrey which had been wiped out in 1933, and sent a large number of children to districts which had no facilities for them. It is reasonable to suggest that some efficiency should be maintained in the Departments of the Government. This incident is a small matter, and the House has quite rightly treated it with some levity, but we should give a warning that Government Departments should take some notice of what we do in our spare time from day to day in this House.

Amendment agreed to.