HC Deb 15 May 1939 vol 347 cc1143-53

11.33 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

I beg to move, in page 16, line 15, after "make," to insert "draft."

This Clause deals with Orders and Regulations, and my Amendment proposes that they shall be draft Orders and Regulations. As hon. Members will know, if the Clause remains in its present form the only course open to any one who objects to any Orders or Regulations is to move a Prayer against them, and then the House is told that the only thing it can do is to accept them or reject them, that there is no opportunity of amending them. We have had abundant experience of that with Unemployment Insurance Regulations and we have always been told, "You have got to accept the Regulations or reject them." The purpose of this Amendment is to secure that they shall be submitted as draft Regulations, so that the House may have an opportunity of amending them.

There is one question I should like to put to the Attorney-General. There were two Bills dealing with military training, and the first one was withdrawn. In the memorandum accompanying the first Bill it stated clearly in regard to this Clause 12: Power is taken to make Regulations subject to amendment by either House of Parliament. In the second Bill that has been altered, and the reference now is to moving Regulations. I submit that if we accept the Clause in its present form we shall find ourselves in the same difficulties in the future as we have experienced in the past. Hon. Members opposite, as well as those on this side of the Committee, may want an opportunity of dealing thoroughly with these Regulations, which may cover very wide subjects, affecting these men vitally, as the right hon. Gentleman himself said. If the Committee would like the opportunity of amending these regulations, which deal with vital subjects, it should accept this Amendment to make them draft, rather than complete, Regulations which have either to be accepted or rejected by the House of Commons.

11.36 p.m.

The Attorney-General

The Amendment covers two points. One is the question whether the Regulations should be made in draft, in which case they could not come into effectual operation until 40 days after they were made. The other is the question of amendment. The hon. Gentleman referred to what he calls the first Bill. I understand how the misunderstanding arose. The hon. Gentleman has referred to paragraph 13 of the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum which is in front of the present Bill. There was a phantom draft, in which it was intended that these Regulations should be subjected to amendment. The word "amendment" in the Memorandum is a misprint for the word "annulment." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think hon. Members will see that it is so if they look at the form of the wording: Power is taken to make regulations subject to amendment by either House of Parliament within 40 days of Session. That is descriptive. There was never any other Bill; there was never any intention of amendment. This word is a misprint, and "annulment" is the proper word.

Mr. Lawson

The draftsman was thinking of what it ought to be.

The Attorney-General

I cannot go into that point, in competition with the hon. Gentleman. Everybody agrees that this Bill arose during an emergency and that it makes a great and vital departure. It raises problems of procedure—these Regulations will deal only with procedure—of a difficult character, needing to be dealt with by Regulations, which have to be specifically made with regard to the registers in Clause I. It is one of the principles of the Bill that the registers should be brought into operation at the earliest practicable moment after the Bill becomes an Act. It would therefore be quite wrong to adopt the procedure contemplated by the Rules (Procedure) Act, under which 40 days must elapse before regulations can be enforced at all. I suggest that the Bill is rightly drafted in providing that the Regulations shall come into force forthwith and that either House of Parliament should be given the power to annul the Regulations. The hon. Gentleman described the procedure quite accurately.

It is not usual for the House to claim the power of amendment with regard to Regulations of this character, which deal with procedure. Whatever hon. and right hon. Members may feel about the Bill, this would be an inappropriate power to introduce, as it is not normally exercised. Because of the urgency of the matter, and because the Regulations will be strictly confined to procedure, I would advise the Committee to reject the Amendment.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Foot

The Attorney-General says that these Regulations are not suitable for amendment, and rather suggests that we are dealing with matters of detail—[Interruption.] Perhaps I misunderstood him. I suggest, however, that the question rather turns on the importance of the matters that are dealt with by Regulation. Earlier in the day there was an Amendment by the Chancellor of the Duchy to add to Clause 6 a new Sub-section: If the Minister is satisfied that it is necessary to restrain employers from terminating the employment of their employés by reason of any duties or liabilities which they are or may become liable to perform or discharge by virtue of the provisions of this Act, or to make provision for the prevention of evasion of the provisions of this Section, he may make regulations for those purposes, and such regulations may make provision for the punishment of breaches of the regulations and may in particular apply with respect to persons found guilty of such breaches any of the provisions of this Section relating to persons found guilty of offences under this Section, with or without modifications. That is an extremely wide power. Indeed, the whole question, of evasion, the whole question of the employer who takes a man back for a week and then dismisses him, will be dealt with by regulation. The Committee showed earlier that Members of all parties attach the greatest importance to this matter, but we shall be unable to deal with the Regulations except by a Prayer at some late hour at night; although we shall be determining the criminal law, we shall be creating new offences, and we shall be determining what the punishment shall be for these offences. The earlier part of the Amendment may be criticised, and there may be Regulations which ought to be brought into force at once, but what I am concerned about is the main intention of the Mover of the Amendment, and that is that, when we are dealing by Regulations and Orders with these extremely important matters, when we are laying on large classes of persons entirely new obligations and inflicting entirely new penalties, the House should keep in its hands the power to shape and amend these various measures.

11.44 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson

The statement of the Minister on the previous Amendment left us in a difficult position. Some of us who had the original Regulations in our hands assumed that there would be amendments to the draft, but if the draft Orders laid before Parliament are not allowed to be amended, it seems to me that certain of the matters mentioned by the Minister as examples of the kind of matters on which he would make Regulations are so important, and cover such vital interests, that they ought to have been provided for in the Bill itself. As hon. Members know, I am very interested in the question of hire-purchase, and large numbers of people throughout the country are interested in it. I have received many letters from firms who are greatly concerned as to what is going to be the Government's view with regard to the contractual obligations of these youths, many of whom get motor bicycles and so on by hire-purchase.

I suggest that this is not a matter where a great deal of very fine alteration is needed. What it really means is a settlement of the principle. The settlement of the principle ought to be debated by this House. If we are to have the position that matters of this importance are to be laid before the House in the form of draft Regulations which we can only accept or reject as they stand, we are going to be in that position in which this Government have so often placed the House. They put before us something which goes a certain way along the road we wish, but they fail to meet important objections. Then we are told that we must have that or reject it. Thus, we are placed in the position of having to take far less than we think we ought to have.

If the Minister of Labour is going to try to deal with these matters which so vitally affect the constituents of not only hon. Members on this side but of hon. Members on the other side as well, he is going to create far more difficulties through these draft Regulations than if he put specific principles in the Bill. I ask the Attorney-General, could he give some indication of what is in the Government's mind regarding this important question of hire-purchase? We are not legislating in a war but in peace-time, and therefore we should get some carefully thought out precedents on these matters, rather than leave them to be decided in a rush at the last moment.

11.47 p.m.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

The Minister must have drafted these Regulations in some form. I fancy one of the Ministers was reading from a copy. Could they not be laid before Parliament before this Measure is passed?

11.48 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I do not know that they are drafted. I think the hon. Lady was referring to Clause 10, not this Clause.

Mr. Benn

Does the Attorney-General mean to say that on a revolutionary matter of this kind, which we must dispose of in a few weeks, there is no such draft? If he says that I must accept the statement, but it is astounding that, on a matter of national safety, that should be the position.

The Attorney-General

There is no such draft. They may have been thought out, but there is no draft.

11.49 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

Clause 10 may empower the Minister to make Regulations to deal with some other situation which has arisen. The Minister is made the judge as to what may or may not be within the scope of the Order. Can we get an assurance from the Attorney-General that no such things will be done under the Regulations; that nothing will be done to extend the age or to increase the numbers within the conscription area?

The Attorney-General

It is quite clear that the Regulations cannot go outside the Bill. As to the Orders, we cannot go into that question now.

Mr. Stephen

Under Clause 10 an Order can be made to make provision for consequential matters.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member must not discuss Clause 10.

Mr. Stephen

I have no intention whatever of discussing Clause 10. I am only saying that under Clause 10 Regulations may be made, while under Clause 12 (2): Any Regulations made. … by the Minister shall. ֵ be laid before Parliament. Possibly the Attorney-General does not yet realise the width of his own Bill, that under Clause 10 the Minister may do any- thing and that Regulations under Clause 12 may result. I want an assurance that there will be no such thing.

11.53 p.m.

Mr. Silverman

I understood the Attorney-General to say just now that any regulations made would have to be under the powers of the Bill. I take him to mean that if the Regulations went outside those powers they would be ultra vires and unenforceable. If that be so, may I put it to him that there was a discussion a little time ago whether a certain course of conduct would amount to an evasion of an obligation under the Act or would merely amount to a fulfilment under the Act The Minister thought it would be an evasion, and proposed to deal with it by Regulations designed to cover the contemplated evasion. Suppose it turned out that the Minister was wrong and that those who thought that the procedure was not an evasion, but the fulfilment of the obligation, were right; would it follow that any Regulations made by the Minister in order to deal with the matter were ultra vires and therefore of no avail?

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman would like the illustration, the point was whether an employer who took a man back upon a weekly contract of employment, kept him a week and then gave him a week's notice in lieu of wages, was fulfilling the obligation, and whether all the elaborate machinery of Clause 6 would be of no effect. The Minister thought it would be an evasion. If the Regulations turn out

to be ultra vires, we should be back where we started; there would be no protection at all for the men who went back to their jobs.

Mr. Stephen

Does the hon. Member not remember that the Minister of Labour said that he would make his Regulations under Order in Council under Clause 10? The Attorney-General has now told us that the Minister will not make any Regulations under Order in Council in Clause 10.

Mr. Silverman

The only point I was making was that there is a considerable danger that any Regulations made to deal with the point in which so many of us are interested would turn out to be ultra vires.

The Attorney-General

I do not think it is as the hon. Gentleman suggests. Perhaps he will again look into the wording of the Clause. I did my best to follow the various hypotheses he put. I was doing my best to follow him. I do not think that there is any such danger as he apprehends, that an Order would be made ultra vires.

Mr. Silverman

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not here when we had that discussion, it is not my fault, but if he had been here he would realise that the danger is a real danger.

Question put, "That the word 'draft' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 247.

Division No. 129.] AYES. [11.58 p.m.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Harris, Sir P. A.
Adams, D. (Consett) Davies, S. O. (Marthyr) Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Dobbie, W. Hayday, A.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)
Ammon, C. G. Eda, J. C. Henderson, J. (Ardwick)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Henderson, T. (Tradeston)
Banfield, J. W. Edwards, Sir C. (Badwellty) Hicks, E. G.
Barnes, A. J. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Hills, A. (Pontefract)
Barr, J. Fletchar, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Holdsworth, H.
Batey, J. Foot, D. M. Hopkin, D.
Beechman, N. A. Frankel, D. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Gallacher, W. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)
Bevan, A. Gardner, B. W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.
Bromfield, W. Garro Jones, G. M. Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Buchanan, G. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Burke, W. A. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Cape, T. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Kirby, B. V.
Cartland, J. R. H. Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Kirkwood, D.
Charleton, H. C. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Cluse, W. S. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Lathan, G.
Cocks, F. S. Grenfell, D. R. Lawson, J. J.
Collindridge, F. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Leach, W.
Cove, W. G. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Logan, D. G.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Lunn, W.
Daggar, G. Groves, T. E. Macdonald, G. (Ince)
Dalton, H. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) McEntee, V. La T.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) McGhee, H. G.
McGovern, J. Pritt, D. N. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
MacLaren, A. Quibell, D. J. K. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Maclean, N. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Mainwaring, W. H. Riley, B. Thurtle, E.
Marshall, F. Ritson, J. Tinker, J. J.
Maxton, J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Tomlinson, G.
Messer, F. Rothschild, J. A. de Viant, S. P.
Milner, Major J. Seely, Sir H. M. Watson, W. McL.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Sexton, T. M. Welsh, J. C.
Morrison, R, C. (Tottenham, N.) Shinwell, E. White, H. Graham
Noel-Baker, P. J. Silverman, S. S. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Oliver, G. H. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Wilkinson, Ellen
Owen, Major G. Smith, E. (Stoke) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Paling, W. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Parker, J. Smith, T. (Normanton) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Parkinson, J. A. Sorensen, R. W. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Pearson, A. Stephen, C. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Price, M. P. Stokes, R. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Liddall, W. S.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Ellis, Sir G. Lipson, D. L.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Elliston, Capt. G. S. Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Albery, Sir Irving Emery, J. F. Loftus, P. C.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Emmott, C. E. G. C. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Emrys-Evans, P. V. McCorquodale, M. S.
Anstruther-Gray, W, J. Entwistle, Sir C. F. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Apsley, Lord Errington, E. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Aske, Sir R. W. Erskine-Hill, A. G. McKie, J. H.
Assheton, R. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Everard, Sir William Lindsay Magnay, T.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Fildes, Sir H. Maitland, Sir Adam
Balniel, Lord Findlay, Sir E. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Fleming, E. L. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Fox, Sir G. W. G. Markham, S. F.
Bernays, R. H. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Marsden, Commander A.
Boothby, R. J. G. Furness, S. N. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Bossom, A. C. Fyfe, D. P. M. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Boulton, W. W. Gluckstein, L. H. Medlicott, F.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Goldie, N. B. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Boyce, H. Leslie Gower, Sir R. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Brass, Sir W. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Gridley, Sir A. B. Moreing, A. C.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)
Bull, B. B. Grimston, R. V. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Burghley, Lord Gritten, W. G. Howard Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Butcher, H. W. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Nall, Sir J.
Castlereagh, Viscount Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Hambro, A. V. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Hammersley, S. S. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hannah, I. C. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Channon, H. Harbord, A. Palmer, G. E. H.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Peake, O.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Perkins, W. R. D.
Colman, N. C. D. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Petherick, M.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Pilkington, R.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hepworth, J. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Cox, H. B. Trevor Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Procter, Major H. A.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Radford, E. A.
Critchley, A. Howitt, Dr. A. B. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J. Ramsbotham, H.
Crowder, J. F. E. Hunter, T. Rankin, Sir R.
Cruddas, Col. B. Hutchinson, G. C. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Culverwell, C. T. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Rayner, Major R. H.
De Chair, S. S. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
De la Bère, R. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Keeling, E. H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Denville, Alfred Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Remer, J. R.
Dodd, J. S. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Donner, P. W. Kimball, L. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Ropner, Colonel L.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Duggan, H. J. Latham, Sir P. Rowlands, G.
Duncan, J. A. L. Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.) Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Eastwood, J. F. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Eckersley, P. T. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Russell, Sir Alexander
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Levy, T. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Stourton, Major Hon. J. J. Warrender, Sir V.
Salmon, Sir I. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Salt, E. W. Strickland, Captain W. F. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wells, Sir Sydney
Sandys, E. D. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Scott, Lord William Sutcliffe, H. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Selley, H. R. Tate, Mavis C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Shakespeare, G. H. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Shepperson, Sir E. W. Thomas, J. P. L. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Wise, A. R.
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Touche, G. C. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Tree, A. R. L. F. Wragg, H.
Snadden, W. McN. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C
Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Turton, R. H. York, C.
Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Walker-Smith, Sir J. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Spens, W. P. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr. Munro.
Storey, S. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.

Question put, and agreed to.

It being after Midnight, The CHAIRMAN proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions on Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given, and the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at Midnight at this day's sitting.

Amendment made: In page 16, line 16, leave out from "Act," to the end of the Sub-section.—[Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

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

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.