HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc939-41

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)

I beg to move. That the Bill be recommitted' to a Committee of the whole House—

  1. (a) in respect of Clauses 7 and 8; and
  2. (b) in respect of the Amendment in Clause 6, the Amendments in Clause 11, the second Amendment in Clause 12,page 11, line 6, the Amendments in Clause 21, page 22, line 36, Clause 21, page 23, line 5, Clause 21, page 23, line 36, Clause 54, page 51, line 19, Clause 59, page 54, line 36, and the new Clause (Power of local authorities to construct air-raid shelters in streets) standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Sir John Anderson; and
  3. (c) in respect of the Amendment in Clause 83 and the new Clause (Provisions as to Northern Ireland) standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare."

4.18 p.m.

Mr, Greenwood

We cannot allow very important and substantial Clauses of the Bill to go undiscussed. I am attaching no special blame to the right hon. Gentleman, who has been given an almost impossible burden to bear. There has been inordinate delay and enormous pressure, resulting in the Bill having to be introduced when it was impossible in the circumstances that it could have been properly considered. It was found, on the Bill coming to the House,' that certain very important Clauses had to be recommitted, Clauses 7 and 8 in particular. They raise questions of important public policy on which there is quite honest division of opinion as to the wisdom of the length to which the right hon. Gentleman has gone. There is this somewhat awkward recommittal Motion on the Paper, affecting the extension of Clause 83 which relates to provisions as to Northern Ireland. It might have been a little more convenient had the Lord Privy Seal assisted those of us who are not as familiar with the Bill as he ought to be himself, as to the substance of this recommittal Motion. It would help the House during the remainder of the discussion on the Report stage, and on the Third Reading, if the right hon. Gentleman would elucidate the extent and the purpose of the Clauses and parts of Clauses in respect of which the Bill is being recommitted, so that when we resume the Report stage the House will know quite where it stands.

4.20 p.m.

Sir J. Anderson

I feel myself in somewhat of a difficulty because I understood, perhaps quite wrongly, that the decision as to recommittal and the matter coming up in this way did not rest entirely with His Majesty's Government, and that one of the purposes of the recommittal was to facilitate discussion and to get rid of restrictions upon the discussion which might otherwise apply.

Mr. Greenwood

I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman. I am only saying that for the convenience of the House it would be as well if the right hon. Gentleman explained the situation.

Sir J. Anderson

The situation, as I understand it, is that it was agreed on the Committee stage that Clauses 7 and 8, which are new, should be formally moved into the Bill, but should be recommitted before the Report stage so that there could be a full discussion, which could not take place in the ordinary course of the Report stage. In regard to section (bs) of the Motion, I understand that the purpose of recommittal relates to the point that there may be charges involved upon local authorities and if that were the case Amendments on the Report stage would be out of order. For the purpose of ensuring that there should be freedom to raise these questions this procedure is resorted to. These provisions are being recommitted and any Amendment which it is desired to raise can then be taken without prejudice to the further stages of the proceedings. In regard to (c), affecting Northern Ireland, this is a new Clause which is to be introduced following the terms of the Financial Resolution which has already been passed. I understood with regard to that Clause that it was agreed that it should be recommitted. I trust that with that explanation we can agree to the Motion.

4.22 p.m.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

I notice that Sub-section (2) of the proposed new Clause relating to Northern Ireland seems to be declaratory, although it certainly seems to amend the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman can assure the House that the Clause is in order.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

The object of the Sub-section is not to amend or to alter in any way the Government of Ireland Act to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, but simply to make the law clear in exactly the same way as we did in Section 14 of the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1937.

Mr. Benn

Do we understand, then, that in conferring upon Northern Ireland power for purposes "similar"—a very curious word to use in an Act of Parliament— to the purposes of the provisions of this Act, there is no amendment of the law and that words of that kind are just declaratory?

Mr. Peake

We can have a very full discussion on the point when we come to the Clause.

Bill accordingly considered in Committee.

[Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]

  1. CLAUSE 6.—(Compensation where works are executed.) 1,519 words
  2. cc945-1040
  3. CLAUSE 7.—(Powers of local authorities to construct underground shelters and other premises required for civil defence purposes.) 38,951 words, 2 divisions
  4. c1040
  5. CLAUSE 11.—(Application of Part III.) 113 words
  6. cc1040-5
  7. CLAUSE 12.— (Code for occupiers of factories, etc.) 1,717 words
  8. cc1045-9
  9. CLAUSE 21(Exchequer grants in respect of provision of air-raid shelter in factory premises, mines, commercial buildings, etc.) 1,421 words
  10. cc1049-50
  11. CLAUSE 54.—(Special provisions as to supply of water for extinguishing fires.) 557 words
  12. c1050
  13. CLAUSE 59.—(Compulsory hiring of land.) 73 words
  14. cc1050-66
  15. CLAUSE 83.—(Short title, citation and extent.) 6,217 words
  16. cc1066-9
  17. NEW CLAUSE.— (Provisions as to Northern Ireland.) 1,265 words, 1 division