HC Deb 11 July 1939 vol 349 cc2083-4

4.5 p.m.

Mr. Burgin

I beg to move, in page 31, line 4, at the end, to insert: (3) Any order of the Minister under the said provisions shall, as soon as may be after the making thereof, be laid before the Commons House of Parliament, and if that House of Parliament, within the period of forty days beginning with the day on which any such order is laid before it, resolves that the order be annulled it shall thereupon become void, without prejudice, however, to anything previously done there under or to the making of a new order. In reckoning any such period of forty days as aforesaid, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which the Commons House of Parliament is adjourned for more than four days. There is under the Bill a power to make an order which will have the effect of excluding from the operation of Armament Profits Duty articles and materials which the Minister states should not come within that operation. It was felt by the Committee, and the opinion was expressed, that while discretion was given, this was a tremendous power to give to a Minister to exempt certain articles and materials, and that Parliament had very little control over the matter. Realising the force of that argument and not wishing to have the responsibility of exercising a power which the House thought was too widely drawn, I have felt it right to insert here a provision that any order made by the Minister under this proviso, enabling articles and materials to be exempted from taxation should be subject to a negative resolution; in other words the order should be laid upon the Table of the House with a proper explanation and be subject to the ordinary negative rule which will enable a Prayer to be made against the order. That has the effect of sharing in some measure the responsibility; it has the effect of enabling these orders to be tabled properly and for the House to discuss them. I repeat the statement that I made before, that it is intended to use this proviso extremely sparingly, that it is the desire to include as much as possible, that this power to exempt is intended only in the interests of administration; but I am very happy to be able to move that any order made by the Minister under this provision should be subject to being laid on the Table of the House and come within the negative resolution procedure with which Members of the Committee are familiar.

4.8 p.m.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

I am always l0th to see these powers given to a Minister to make orders which do not come forward for the approval of Parliament. Certainly under the Bill as drafted very wide and exceptional powers were given. These Prayers are never very satisfactory, because they generally come on late at night and there is very little that the House can do about them. But it is some small safeguard that the Minister has seen his way to make a concession in regard to this case.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in Committee and on re-committal), considered.

Mr. Speaker

The first Clause I shall take is that in the name of the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith).

Mr. Mander

On a point of Order. In view of the fact that the Clause (Conscription of Wealth Preparatory Provisions) standing in my name was not discussed at all in Committee and that very widespread interest is taken in the country in the principle involved, though it meets with a great deal of opposition from hon. Members opposite, will you consider the advisability of providing an opportunity for discussion?

Mr. Speaker

This is not the time to discuss it.