§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes (Essex, South-eastern)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order-in-Council dated 23rd July, 1942, made under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulations 26A, 27A, 27B and 28A of, and adding Regulations 32c, 76B and 79D to, the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, and amending Regulation 13 of the Defence (Recovery of Fines) Regulations, 1942, a copy of which was presented to this House on 24th November, be annulled.It is not my duty on this occasion to make any attack on any member of the Government or even on my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I am here for the purpose of dealing with what appears to my hon. Friends and myself to be somewhat of an abuse in the method in which Orders in Council are working at the present time. I am speaking on the question of Parliamentary control of legislation and on that question alone. I am sure it is one which will be of interest to every Member of the House, in every party. As the House is aware, Orders in Council are first presented. They are then laid on the Table, and unless challenged after a period of time they come into operation and become law. At the present time, apart from the Order with which I propose specifically to deal, there are between 80 and 100 Orders lying on the Table to-day. I venture to suggest that it would be difficult for the ordinary layman to understand many of them, and that we are faced by the danger and the difficulty that the more we have Orders under the Defence of the Realm Act lying on the Table which are difficult to understand, the more the tendency is for them automatically 150 to pass into law without their being properly considered by members of the House from the point of view of whether abuses may exist.
The Regulation I have before me is a classic example of what I regard as rather a bad new tendency in Parliament, that is, to have a considerable number of Regulations relating to completely different Government Departments lumped together under one Order. This Order first deals with Regulations 26A, 27A, and 27B, which relate to Civil Defence and fire prevention duty. We then come to 28A, which deals with the National Fire Service. Then we come to 38c, which is something completely different and deals with the Pharmacy Act. We then jump from that to 76B, again in the same Order, which is a Regulation dealing with penalties for the illegal export of goods. We have in addition an amendment of Regulation 13 of the Defence (Recovery of Fines) Regulations which has to come into action with 76B. We then pass on to still another Regulation, 79D, which deals with the restriction of appeals by charities to persons living outside this country or in the Isle of Man. There are thus a whole number of different Government Departments affected by the same Order.
Suppose there were one matter alone in this Order which was liable to abuse and to which objection ought to be made. As matters stand, it would be necessary to object to the whole Order. That is a bad system, which the House and the Government ought to consider amending. That is not all. A number of those Orders are difficult to understand. They relate to various Acts which it is necessary to look up in order to understand them. There is no explanatory memorandum with the Order, and it is difficult for hon. Members in war-time particularly to have time to go through Order after Order to check whether Parliament ought to object to them or not.
It is difficult enough in peace-time, and in war-time it is almost impossible, but unless there is some alteration in the present system the only thing which can be done by Members of Parliament who believe legislation by Departments to be a bad thing if carried to excess and who find an Order which they cannot understand is to put down a Prayer and get that Order debated, so that a proper explanation may be given on the Floor of the 151 House. In war-time, when all hon. Members are busy, and Ministers are exceedingly busy, it does not seem to me ideal procedure to have Debates at the end of the ordinary Business of the House day after day in order that unintelligible Orders may be explained by Ministers. I hope that we may get an undertaking from the Government that they will consider the possibility of improving the procedure.
I suggest that a great many of the existing difficulties might be swept away if it were decided that one could not include in the same Order matters dealt with by a variety of Government Departments, and that we should have a Select Committee set up to "vet." these Orders when they first appear and before they are laid on the Table; and beyond that, and perhaps even more important, the Order should have an explanatory memorandum attached so that it is possible for an ordinary individual to know what it means. My hon. Friend the Member for the Elland Division (Mr. Levy), who will second this Prayer, will deal more broadly with the question of intelligibility, the impossibility of understanding these Orders at first glance. I have confined myself to the two main principles, first, the lumping together of the. Regulations of a considerable number of Departments in one Order, and, second, the lack of an explanatory memorandum to assist hon. Members to understand Orders.
§ Mr. Levy (Elland)
I beg to second the Motion.
May I first correct an observation of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Flight-Lieut. Raikes)? He said that these Orders do not operate until after they have been laid on the Table. I am sure he knows as well as I do that all these Orders begin to operate immediately they are made. They are laid on the Table for approval or disapproval by the House. In the event of the House disapproving, what has already been done under a Regulation remains, but the Regulation does not operate further. I would point out that we are not attacking my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. We realise that the organisation of the fire services is quite good, though from time to time weak spots have had to be tightened up, and that has been done by Regulation. We are objecting and have objected for a good many years 152 to legislation by Regulation, but if we are to have legislation by Regulation then let us have Regulations we can understand. For the past three years we have had hundreds of rules and Regulations. There are at least 100 Regulations now in the Vote Office, and I will guarantee that no Member could understand more than two per cent. of them unless he were prepared to spend hours and hours in the Library looking up the cross references. Only in that way could he get any real idea of what the Orders relate to.
Therefore we are making a protest under three heads. We protest against the methods of the Government in respect of the issue of these Regulations; we protest against the form of the Regulations being of the omnibus variety, and we protest against the complex wording of these Regulations. Let me indicate the history of this Regulation. This particular Regulation was passed as an Order in Council on 23rd July, 1942. It became operative forthwith and was embodied in the Defence Regulations Volume, 12th Edition, of 17th September. It was not laid upon the Table of this House, if you please, until 24th November, and then it had to lay for 28 days.
That Regulation is absolutely unintelligible to any ordinary Member of Parliament, but it affects all Members of Parliament and our constituents. This is not a party issue, but a general issue as to whether we, as Members of Parliament, are being treated with the respect with which we expect to be treated by Members of the Government. Take the particular paragraph 6. This is what it says:Under sub-paragraph A of paragraph 3A of the said Regulation 27A, after the words the said requirement' there shall be inserted the words 'or attending outside working hours for instruction and training related to those duties and of travelling expenses to persons attending during their working hours for such instruction and training' and at the end of the said sub-paragraph there shall be added the words 'or for attendance outside his working hours for such instruction and training; and, at the end of sub-paragraph (b) of the said paragraph 3A, there shall be added the words 'for the purpose of the calculating of the said aggregate periods in the case of any person, any period which he is required to attend outside his working hours for instruction and training' shall be included.Can anybody in this House be said to understand that jargon? I have tried to understand it. It appeared that it was being embodied in Volume I of the 12th edition, so I turned up Volume I of the 153 12th edition. Apparently the Regulation is for securing that all persons of either sex being British subjects to whom the Order applies and who are of the age prescribed for their sex, shall be registered for the purpose of part-time duties, and it says:Regulation substituted: S.R. & O. 1941 (No. 68) 11, page 12; amended: S.R. & O. 1941 (No. 1406) 11, p. 87 and S.R. & O. 1942 Nos. 801, 961, 1279 and 1442. Former Regulations inserted: S.R. & O. 1940 (No. 1681) 11, p. 116.If it were not so tragic, it would be comic. If you introduced this Order on a music-hall stage, it would run for a thousand nights. The criticism does not apply entirely to the Minister. But every one of the Ministers does the same. Let me, if I may, with great respect, give just an illustration of Order 2563. This is what paragraph (2) says:For the words 'Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1939' in paragraph (1) of, and the side note to, the said Regulation six there shall be substituted the words 'Courts (Emergency Powers) (Scotland) Act, 1939'; and for the words 'paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section one of the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1939,' in paragraph (2) of that Regulation there shall be substituted the words 'subsection (2) of section one of the Courts (Emergency Powers) (Scotland) Act, 1939'.It is a joke, but I am suggesting with great respect that it is serious. After all, in the Vote Office at the present time there are over 100 Orders and Regulations. Each is important to every Member, not only in this House but throughout the whole country. These Orders are operated immediately they are passed in Council, and nobody knows what they mean. If my right hon. Friend was at the other side of the Table instead of this side of the Table, he would be one of the first to criticise in very strong language. A number of these Orders are probably good. A large number of them are not good. We are suggesting that a Select Committee should be set up to vet these Orders and to see what they really mean. What we are asking in making this protest is that when these Orders are laid on the Table they shall be laid on the Table in simple language, so that Members of Parliament can understand them, and all those people affected by them can also understand them. If for some reason it is impossible because of the cross references to make them intelligible in the form I have suggested, there should be attached to them an explanatory memorandum, so that any Member of Parliament who goes to the 154 Vote Office or has these Orders sent shall be able to understand them.
We see criticisms in the Press whereby so few Members are supposed to be listening to the Debates in this House. If these Orders, and Orders of this kind, are to take up all the time and attention of Members in the Library in looking up cross references so that they can understand them, they will not have time to come and listen to these Debates at all. My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon. (Sir H. Williams) is an adept who knows the Library. He can put his fingers on all books of reference quite readily. I guarantee it will take him at least three or four hours, with all his knowledge, to be able to look up these cross references in order to get an intelligent idea of what these Orders mean. So far as I am concerned, I tried to the best of my ability and spent several hours. I ultimately had to employ somebody who could put his fingers on these references books. I asked him if he would go through it in order that I could make some sort of explanation to this House in an intelligent manner, knowing what I was talking about. He assured me it took him six hours.
Apart from that, is it right that in an Order of this kind, which deals particularly with Civil Defence and the Fire Services, you should deal with foreign pharmacists, who are going to be temporarily registered under the Pharmacy Act? Also, the Order provides penalties for the illegal export of goods. What has that to do with Civil Defence and Fire Services? In addition, you have restrictions on appeals to overseas charities. All these things are embodied in one Order, and that Order is absolutely unintelligible. I have made my protest. A number of hon. Members, I hope, will want to take part in the Debate, and if our protests bring forward the remedies we desire there will be no need for us to continue to put down Prayers calling upon Ministers concerned to come to the Table to explain the particulars and meanings of their own Orders. But unless we get these Orders in simple language, or with a memorandum attached, I hope that I shall have the support of all Members of the House in putting down Prayers day by day until we get the Government to produce their pamphlets in such a form that they are intelligible, not only to Members of Parliament 155 but to people outside who are affected by them.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I think it would be more convenient for me to make a few observations now. Fortunately, I have with me my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, who will be very happy to give the House information at a later stage. Two main points were raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Flight-Lieutenant Raikes). I have certainly nothing to complain about in the tone or the terms of his speech, or, indeed, in the rather different kind of speech—a rather more lively and humorous speech, if I may say so—by my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Levy). They put their points with clarity, and I think the House is fully seized of the matter. The two points were that, at any rate in some of these Orders and Defence Regulations, it is difficult for the layman to follow them and get a reasonable idea of what they are about, and—this is essentially a practical point—that in the case of the Order which is now being debated it is a rather varied product to find in one Defence Regulation. I am bound to admit that. The only reasons are that it is one meeting of His Majesty in Council which produced this particular Order in Council in the first place, and in the second place that, as an economy in printing, which I am afraid we get a little concerned about now and again, we thought it better to print them together, as they were made at the same time by His Majesty in Council. I have a suggestion to make which I think may be helpful on the two substantial points raised in the excellent speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Southeast Essex.
My hon. Friend the Member for Elland, who seconded, went on to a further point about which I am not so happy. He suggested very briefly—and I am not complaining, because his brevity was partly to meet my convenience, for which I am grateful—he suggested that there should be a Select Committee of the House which, in his own language, should "vet" these Defence Regulations or Orders in Council. The proposal, as my hon. Friend indicated, is not exactly a 156 new one. There was a Committee appointed by the Labour Government in, I think, 1930, on Ministerial Powers, presided over by Lord Donoughmore. It was a most important Committee, and it recommended that, in the case of the peacetime Statutory Rules and Orders, made by Ministers pursuant to Statute, there should be a Select Committee, presumably one in this House and one in their Lordships' House. At any rate something of the kind has been done in another place. It was a Select Committee to examine the Statutory Rules and Orders. It was not expected to pronounce upon the policy or the principles of the Regulations but to draw the attention of the House to such aspects of them as the Committee thought should be brought to their attention. I do not know how a distinction could have been made between matters at which the House ought to look and matters involving principle and policy. That recommendation was made in peacetime in respect to the numerous Regulations that are made under statutory authority; by, for example, the Minister of Health under various Acts of Parliament and by the Minister of Transport under various Acts of Parliament, including the Act of Parliament which I brought in—the Road Traffic Act, 1930—which gave no end of powers to the Minister of Transport to make Regulations, and whereby he could deal with matters of detail which involved no political or controversial problems and make them more adaptable to changing circumstances. Despite the fact that that recommendation was made for peace-time, be it remembered, it was not adopted by any Government. Although I cannot say from my own recollection whether there have been many discussions about it in the House in peace-time, it looks as if the House, broadly speaking, have accepted the view of the various Governments concerned that this was not a wise thing to do. It is not for me to argue whether that view was right or wrong, but if that view was held by Governments in time of peace—
§ Mr. Morrison
It sounds as though we have got one now. I do not see that that makes the slightest difference. This Committee on Ministerial Powers was 157 appointed by a party Government when party Government and Opposition existed. The issue was a live one in those days. My hon. Friend made an intervention which caused cheers in a certain quarter of the House, but I cannot see that it is relevant to the issue, to the effect that there was no opposition.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, South)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that when you have an organised Opposition it is their function to examine all these things, and therefore you have an organisation which watches the Government, but it is missing in war-time?
§ Mr. Morrison
With great respect, these doctrines of Parliamentary responsibility and duties of Members of Parliament that have been uttered shock me; they really do. Is it only the duty of an Opposition to watch what a Government is doing and to watch Statutory Rules and Orders? Is it the case that Members of Parliament supporting the Government have no responsibility to watch these things? If that is so, what has the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) been doing for so many years, watching these things, whether a supporter of the Government or an opponent of the Government, with very great ability and vigour and embarrassing Ministers time after time?
§ Sir H. Williams
In peace-time you have few of these, but in war-time you have masses—there are over 100 lying on the Table of the House now—and no individual Member in this House can achieve the task.
§ Mr. Morrison
The war-time difficulty which I admit is a difficulty for Members and especially for Ministers—if the House is going to be in prayerful mood, Ministers will have to be on the spot about these regulations. But that argument, which was made in respect of peace-time by a responsible Committee appointed by the Government of the day, was rejected, although not by that Government. My recollection is that that Government did not have much time to consider that report before they were removed from office.
§ Mr. Morrison
I have not left it; I am trying to get to it. Successive Governments came in—Mr. MacDonald's Coalition, Mr. Baldwin's Government, Mr. Neville Chamberlain's Government, and then this Government, and so far as I know all have taken the view that that would be an unwise thing to do.
§ Mr. Morrison
No, Sir, but I will come to that also. There is a duty on every Member of Parliament to examine these things. Nor do I accept the view that an ordinary Member of Parliament is in a position in which there is no obligation on him to make himself reasonably skilled in these matters.
§ Sir Edward Grigg (Altrincham)
How are we to exercise these obligations if an Order is not laid on the Table until five months after it is made?
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong about that. That is the worst of relying upon another hon. Member instead of examining a thing for one's self. However, I think it would be far better to let me give my exposition now and cover all the points that have been raised. Members of Parliament are persons of quite average intelligence; they are legislators.
§ Mr. Levy
The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) was wrong in saying something about an Order being made five months before it was laid on the Table. Well, I have looked it up, and I have found that the Order was passed on 25th July and not laid on the Table of this House until 24th November. That is a definite and precise fact.
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman will get himself right into the mud in a minute. I will come to that presently. I was suggesting that this House is formed of hon. Members who make Acts of Parliament. They make the law; they are responsible for the wording and terms of Acts of Parliament which leave this House. They are people who are expected to become 159 reasonably skilled in the construction, examination and passing of Acts of Parliament. The public outside would think we were not very good at our job if we were not able to do this. We ought not to accept the view that no average Member of Parliament ought not to be expected to understand the wording of a Defence Regulation, which, after all, is an exactly similar problem to the understanding of the wording of a statutory Act of Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] But it is; it is essentially delegated legislation.
§ Mr. Morrison
If we are to say to the public outside that an ordinary Member of Parliament ought to be able to examine an amendment to legislation but cannot understand it, it will be unwise, except, of course, in connection with the more complex and difficult cases, to which I will come in a moment. If we were to go to a Select Committee, I think we should be wrongly approaching the whole problem of emergency legislation and emergency powers. If there is a case in peace time for what is done by Statutory Rules and Orders, surely there is a much stronger case in time of war when Orders having the force of law must be passed with much greater alacrity and with much greater speed and when the Executive, I suggest, must be armed with the power of modifying Orders in Council and Defence Regulations not only in the interests of the Government but of the general body of citizens.
§ Sir H. Williams
The right hon. Gentleman says that a Select Committee would delay the Government; but these Orders are operative the moment they are signed by His Majesty, and therefore, the Select Committee procedure would come afterwards. The object of the Select Committee would be to draw the attention of the House to the question whether they should be annulled. It would not hold up the action of the Executive.
§ Mr. Morrison
I entirely agree. I will come to that point later. However, what I said is not entirely irrelevant. It is the case that this form of legislation in war time, in the last war and in this war, was and is adopted because of the urgency of a war situation and the necessity of 160 Ministers being able to act with speed, in the first place, the necessity of Parliament delegating its authority, in the second place, in order that legislation may be passed with alacrity, and the knowledge that Ministers are bound to be very heavily occupied with administrative and executive work of one sort and another. If in the making of those Defence Regulations Ministers had to expect that somebody would be called by a Select Committee, because they would want the aid of somebody to give an explanation of the Defence Regulations, and if the Select Committee had the power to recommend this, that and the other by way of change, or to draw attention to certain features, it is clear that either some persons from the State Departments—and I doubt whether they would be enough on a matter of this kind, where elements of policy, and sometimes highly controversial policy, arise—and presumably Ministers, would be required to attend fairly frequently for considerable periods to be examined, and even cross-examined. I think this would be putting an undue strain on Ministers and an undue tax on their time during a war. But what would be the result? If the Minister satisfied the Select Committee that a Defence Regulation was reasonable, and they reported to the House that they had no observations to make or thought there was no feature to which they need draw attention, and if the inference, therefore, was that the Defence Regulation was reasonable, then the position of the individual Member of Parliament functioning as a critic of a Defence Regulation would, I venture to say, be not strengthened, but weakened.
§ Mr. Morrison
He does function. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay) functioned on a Defence Regulation that I made about Sunday entertainments with very great effect. Members do function and they ought to function, because it is their duty to do so. But if in the case to which I am referring a Member got up and moved a Prayer against a Defence Regulation, what would be the reply of the Minister? He would reply on the merits of the case within the limits that he thought were appropriate, but then he would say, "After all, this Defence Regulation has been most carefully examined by the Select Committee. The Select 161 Committee have seen me, or seen an officer from the Department. They have reported to the House that they have no observations. Surely, it is hardly necessary that the House should wish to interfere with it." The House knows that it pays respect, and rightly, very great respect, to Select Committees. Therefore, I should have thought such a proposal would be going too far, certainly in time of war, whatever might be said about it in time of peace. I suggest that the individual critic on the Floor of the House would find himself weakened if he had to wrestle not only with the arguments of the Minister, but to face a Select Committee's report which, broadly speaking, recorded contentment with the terms and the nature of the Regulation. If there was ever a matter on which the individual Member of Parliament ought to function, I suggest it is on this. My hon. Friend the Member for Elland referred to a point about a Defence Regulation that was made on 23rd July and did not appear until 24th November. He could not understand why it was floating about all that time. The answer is that it was made on 23rd July and it was laid in the ordinary way and then the Parliamentary Session came to an end, and the House authorities advised that it would be necessary to start all over again and lay it at the beginning of the next Session.
§ Mr. Morrison
That may be so, but there is no obligation to lay it on a particular date. It was done as soon as might be. The 28 days run from the second date. I admit that there is more than one subject dealt with in the Order. If we were to print the whole of the Order again and show the Amendments, the amount of printing would be enormous. I do not think there is a strong enough case to do that. What I propose to meet the hon. Member's point, which is a reasonable one, is that all Amendments made at the same meeting of the Privy Council will continue to be printed in one document under a single heading, and we will group all the connected Amendments to form a separate Order in Council even though it is printed in the one document. The advantage of that will be that, within the document, Members will know that A and 162 B are separate Orders in Council. It seems ridiculous that, if Members want to present a Prayer against a particular thing that they object to, they have to move the rejection of a whole series of other things to which they do not object at all. It is not a businesslike Parliamentary procedure and it is not fair to them, because it puts them on a false issue, and it is not fair to the House, which cannot give a straight vote on the thing about which it is really worried. If we print them so that it is clear that there is in one document not one Order in Council covering a miscellaneous collection of matters like the one in question, but a series of Orders in Council, dealing respectively with groups of connected, amendments, that I think will meet the point.
I come to the more definite question of the explanation of these Orders. It is a nice constitutional point how far it is desirable for either Parliament or the Executive to give this in publishing what is after all a completed piece of legislation. These Orders are as final as an Act of Parliament, subject to a Prayer against them. Once that period has gone—indeed, before it has gone—they have the force of law directly they are made. They may be upset later on by the House within the 28 days, but they have the force of law and there are traditional and constitutional objections to either Parliament or the Executive exercising some influence on the Courts by recording what they mean when they pass these enactments. I do not say that that is at-all involved in this issue, but even on that there is a great deal to be said one way or the other. Therefore, the Government are not too anxious to enter into memoranda of explanation except in cases where there is a satisfactory case for that being done. The great bulk of these Defence Regulations are reasonably easy to understand on the face of them, even to the layman who is not a Member of Parliament and is not accustomed to handle Bills. The bulk of them are readily ascertainable on the face of them. The others are simple amendments, in which case it is a matter of comparing the amendments with the text of the instruments which are being amended.
I agree that there are some cases, even on the standard I have rather indicated as one we ought to expect from Members of Parliament in which it is too much to expect even Members to follow an Order with reasonable readiness. In-deed, 163 there might even be cases where they cannot make out what it is all about. I admit that that occurs on special occasions. I recognise that some Regulations are more complicated and more difficult for Members to follow. If a Regulation is of such a character that there is real difficulty in understanding its effect, the appropriate Minister, who may or may not be me, will issue a short explanatory memorandum for the information of the House. I will go further and say that if the Regulation has been issued without such a memorandum and a request is made to the Minister concerned for the issue of one, sympathetic consideration will be given to the request. I think that what I have said indicates that not only I but colleagues in the Government who are concerned in these matters have at fairly short notice—I am making no complaint about that—done our best to give it responsible consideration with a view to meeting the wishes and the convenience of the House. I do not say that the suggestions I have made meet my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-east Essex 100 per cent., but they substantially meet the points he has raised. I trust that in these circumstances the House will see its way to think that the Government have acted reasonably and that this Prayer may be withdrawn.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, South)
I think that my right hon. Friend went further than that. He said that in all cases in which he thought that from the nature of it, the Order would be obscure a memorandum would be provided, and that in other cases where Members thought Orders were obscure sympathy would be extended to a request for a memorandum. But the Home Secretary said that on constitutional grounds we have to be very careful about a memorandum. I would ask him to look through the Bills in a Session. He will find that in the case of nearly all complicated Bills there is either a memorandum on the front of the Bill—
§ Sir H. Williams
Financial, and sometimes other aspects. If there is not a memorandum attached to a Bill there is generally an explanation issued as a White Paper. But that, of course, is not binding on the courts or on anybody else. The memorandum or the White Paper merely indicates what the Government have in mind. I think that in this case the Home Secretary has given us a measure of concession, but I completely disagree with him in his reference to a Select Committee. It is not merely the case that we want these Orders looked at. We want the civil servants who draft them to know in advance that they are going to be looked at. That is the important thing. We want them to know that there is a policeman about upstairs. The Home Secretary says that we shall be put under a disability, because if we pray against something which the Select Committee has considered, we shall find that that has spoiled our chances. Obviously no Member is going to put down a Prayer against an Order that has been looked at by the Select Committee unless upon further information it is realised that the Select Committee has missed something, and nobody would mind about that, and in any case it is only about one in a hundred of these Orders that have been prayed against. We want those who draft this unintelligible verbiage—because that is what it is, a lot of verbiage that is quite unnecessary—
§ Sir H. Williams
I know, but what is the justification for Acts of Parliament being so badly drafted? I would ask the Home Secretary to read the Public Health Act, 1875. There he will see an Act which was infinitely better drafted than most Acts. The old school of draftsmen has gone and drafting has deteriorated and the House has tolerated that, but I do not tolerate it. I think it is time that some Minister said to the draftsmen "What does all this stuff mean? Re-write it." Then we should get better Acts of Parliament. Let the House listen to this on page 5 of this Order. I do not know what it means. It is something about imports and exports: 165Any person whoThen there is some other stuff, and it goes on—
- (a) contravenes any prohibition or restriction on the export of goods from the United Kingdom."shall be guilty of an offence against this regulation and on conviction on indictment shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding fourteen years.Obviously the offence contemplated is a very serious one. Fourteen years is a terrible penalty. I daresay that certain people who have committed very grave offences may appreciate what the President of the Board of Trade was after, but 14 years is a terrible penalty;
§ Sir H. Williams
It may be, but it is not clear what persons are in the black market. I do not know whether if I were to put in a parcel a pair of gloves—presuming that their export is prohibited without a licence—and send them to a friend in another country, I should be offending. I might not have the faintest idea of the crime I might be committing, but, it would be said, "The maximum penalty is 14 years. Of course, a pair of gloves is not worth 14 years, and we think about 12 months will suit you." The penalty of 14 years is a direction to the judge that all offences against this Regulation are grave ones and therefore there may be a heavy penalty for even a minor offence. Then on another page of the Order we find:No person in the United Kingdom shall, without the permission of the Secretary of State,and that means my right hon. Friend, not his other colleagues; he is the only one described as "Secretary of State" only,make an appeal to persons outside the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, or to any such class of persons, for donations or subscriptions in money or in kind to a charity.I do not know what is the object of that Regulation. My wife happens to be the chairman of a registered war charity. I read this to her and asked: "Has not some generous American lady sent some nice cheques to this fund?" She said, "Yes." I said "Have you written to her recently?" She said, "Yes; I sent her the annual report the other day." I said, "Did you put anything in the letter which indicated a hope of more contributions?" She said, "I do not know that 166 I put it as directly as that, but I think it was implied." I said, "If you are not careful the Home Secretary will be on your track. You have broken this Regulation but you do not know anything about it."
§ Sir H. Williams
She will also be very sorry if you send her to gaol. For some reason it is considered undesirable that persons in this country connected with registered war charities should write to anybody in any other country to support one of our war charities. I can see no reason for it. I do not suppose one person connected with any registered war charity has had his attention drawn by the Home Office to this Regulation. It is no defence in a court to say that you do not know the law, but the great mass of the officers of these war charities, many of them unpaid persons and all doing what they think to be right, may commit a crime and may be prosecuted. In the same document, by the way, we license foreigners to be pharmaceutical chemists and to dispense and make up any drug, medicine or poison in accordance with any prescription. I do not know what is meant by the 14 years' penalty for infringing the law unless I consult the large volume which one of my hon. Friends has beside him. One of these Regulations was published the other day in connection with the electricity supply industry with which I have had some association, something about restriction in the use of fuel. It says:As from the date hereof.There were two dates, one the date on which it was signed and the other date on which it came into operation. It took a colleague of mine 10 days to find out the intention of the Department. The Department said it was no business of theirs to interpret the Order made by them, but the business of the court. There is no prosecution in these cases except on the initiative of the Department, and therefore the effective interpretation of an Order does not, in the first place, lie with the courts, but with the Law Officers of the Crown, whether they advise prosecution. Therefore, the intention of the Department is important. Unless the Department intends to prosecute in a certain case, no prosecution 167 will lie, but the Department, having made the Order, protect themselves and say: "It is for the judges to decide what we mean." The judges would have a bit of a job with some of these Orders. The ordinary citizen who wants to obey an Order does not know where he is.
Imagine that this Regulation was laid on the Table for a week. It takes a week after His Majesty the King has signed it before they hand it in and it has to be printed. It ought to be handed in the next morning. This House should have the opportunity at the earliest conceivable moment for opposing these things and any such matter ought to be laid the very first day that Parliament sits after His Majesty the King has signed the Order. There is no reason against it. The next thing is that when it has to be re-laid there is no such excuse, because all the process of printing and so forth has been gone through. From 11th to 24th November this Regulation was not available to be prayed against. That is a minor constitutional outrage, depriving Parliament of its opportunity. You cannot pray against something until it has been laid.
§ Sir H. Williams
I know, but we may want to stop it on the very first day. There may be time when it is a matter of urgency. The House ought not to be deprived of its opportunity of making a protest merely through idleness in tabling the Order. If a Select Committee were set up, its task would not be a difficult one. A few of us sat round a table the other day and examined 40 or 50 of these Orders.
We came to the conclusion in less than an hour that as regards about 50 of them there was no reason to make any protest, but with regard to eight or ten we came to the conclusion that they were open to some objection. That is why Prayers have been tabled. But if they were automatically examined by a Select Committee the Members would soon become expert at their job. They would have the assistance of one of the Clerks attached to the staff of the House. He and the chairman would look into these things and get them interpreted. Only in those cases where it was quite evident that the matter was open to question, or the verbiage was too complicated, would they send for the Minister 168 or the draftsman, who would then have to justify what he was doing. The knowledge that that might happen would be a very good discipline for Ministries, draftsmen and civil servants. I regret that the Home Secretary has had to leave the Chamber for perfectly good reasons of public duty; he will be able to read in the OFFICIAL REPORT what is being said in his absence. Though he has offered some minor concessions, I am by no means satisfied that they are adequate and I think we should continue to press for proper procedure to protect the liberty of the subject.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Challen (Hampstead)
I do not wish to say any more than to support in a word or two what has been said in respect of the way in which these masses of Orders in Council are being put upon the House and the country at the present time. An interruption by the Home Secretary a minute ago of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) indicated that he had not appreciated at all the real nature of the indictment of my hon. Friend, because when the point was made that this particular Order, instead of being placed upon the Table of this House on the first day of this Session, had been kept back a fortnight he said that that was all right because the 28 days only dated from the day on which the Order was laid on the Table. If Orders are to be held up for weeks before being placed on the Table prosecutions may have taken place and individuals may have been sent to penal servitude for 14 years while the House is waiting to examine Orders. I, therefore, submit that this particular point has not been appreciated.
There is one other remark I should like to make, concerning what I think is another misapprehension on the part of the Home Secretary as to the cause of our complaint. He said, I think in his opening words, that the complaint is that the language of some of these Orders in Council is not intelligible to the ordinary layman and he went on to suggest that it is hardly to the credit of Members of Parliament in the eyes of the public, that they do not appear to understand ordinary language. I suggest it is not enough for the Home Secretary to suggest that the language need not be intelligible to the ordinary layman. The language should be intelligible to the ordinary lawyer, and I say without the slightest fear of contra- 169 dication that Order after Order is being issued to-day that is quite unintelligible to highly qualified solicitors and barristers practising in the courts to-day. I am repeatedly being told by my solicitor friends of the complexity of the Orders they have to deal with every day, and of their utter inability to understand what these Orders mean. In the ordinary way, a great deal of time is spent by solicitors in noting up this kind of legislation in their law books. At present they are largely deprived of the staff which enabled them to do this. To introduce such Regulations as this is not playing the game with the legal profession.
I thought the Home Secretary, in answer to the point that Members of Parliament and their constituents did not understand these Orders, might perhaps argue that the Orders are not issued for the public in the first instance to understand, and that, provided the lawyers understand them all, that might be considered sufficient. My complaint is that the legal profession do not understand these Orders, and that lawyers, who have to advise their clients, are hopelessly confused. If ever there was a time when the greatest circumspection should be exercised in the production of such documents it is now. The House has a particular responsibility to see that Orders are intelligible and sufficiently plain to the public and to the legal profession. It seems to me that the refusal of the Home Secretary to agree to a special committee to go into these matters, at a time like this, when Members are very much occupied with other matters, almost constitutes a refusal to allow Parliament properly to do its duty.
§ Major Milner (Leeds, South-East)
With some diffidence I agree with what the hon. and gallant Member for Hampstead (Flight-Lieut. Challen) has said about the difficulty the legal profession experience in keeping up with the multitude of Regulations and Orders in Council which are made. But I could not agree that members of the legal profession, of either branch, given the opportunity, are unable to follow or to interpret those Orders in Council. The difficulty in these busy days is to find the opportunity. My concern is not so much for the legal profession, however important that may be, but for the ordinary man-in-the-street to have opportunities of understanding the laws that are 170 made. For that reason, the House has some sympathy with the Prayer. The matter required raising, and some advantage has already been obtained, in that the Home Secretary has promised to print these Orders separately, so that it will be possible for hon. Members to put down a Prayer against any one of them, instead of having to treat a number of varying matters as one.
There are one or two conclusions I would like to draw. The first is—and I am sure that my right hon. Friend, had he been here, would have agreed, and that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General will agree—the desirability of laying these Orders on the Table at the earliest opportunity after they are made. As has been indicated it would have been possible under this Order, which was made on 23rd July, for some individual to have been charged, committed to prison, and imprisoned for two or three months, before this House had had an opportunity of dealing with the matter. This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. The House would agree that it is desirable that not only the Home Office, but Government Departments as a whole should lay the Orders on the Table at the earliest possible moment and not wait seven days, in one instance, and some 13 days in another, before laying a particular Order upon the Table. We all hope that Government Departments will take any step open to them to make clear to the general public, including therein the legal profession, the meaning of the multitudinous Regulations that pour forth from them. The suggestion that a White Paper or an explanatory pamphlet be published, where owing to the complexity of the matter a request is made from this House, should be carried out. It is a proper suggestion and one which, I understand, the Home Secretary—speaking one hopes for his colleagues—will carry out in future. That would clearly be a great advantage to all concerned.
The third conclusion I would draw is that consideration should be given by all concerned, by the Government Departments, prosecuting solicitors, the Director of Public Prosecutions, by my right hon. and learned Friend, and by the various courts before which offences under these Orders come, to the difficulty of the ordinary man-in-the-street in ascertaining his rights and liabilities, and to discriminating between a case of deliberate 171 evasion of some Regulation and the case of the individual who, either through ignorance or incapacity, or shortage of staff, has not been able to make himself fully acquainted with the law and perhaps in all particulars to abide by it. We hope a distinction will be drawn by all concerned between these two classes. With that observation I assume that hon. Members who put down the Prayer will in their own time agree to withdraw it. We all agree that we must afford every support to the Government in the various Regulations, which, having the responsibility for the war, they feel it necessary to make. We on this side of the House certainly are, as the House knows, only too anxious to support any or all of the steps which the Government think fit to take directed towards the better, the more efficient and the more expeditious and successful prosecution of the war, and to that end we shall feel bound, if the matter goes to a Division, to vote against the Prayer.
§ Sir Edward Grigg (Altrincham)
I am grateful to my hon. Friends who have put down this Prayer because there has been a lot done on the question of Regulations introduced in war-time, which has been a considerable shock to me, and, I imagine, to a great number of other Members who hardly knew what was being done in their names. I had intended to make some observations on the remarks of the Home Secretary, but I will not do so as he has left the House. I would only say that his speech did not seem to me to be as logical in argument as those which he usually addresses to us. He began by saying that it was the duty of all Members of Parliament to watch most closely Regulations of this kind. Then he went on to say that if Members exercised that right in war-time they were really doing an unpatriotic thing and making far too great a demand on Ministers. One part of his speech defeated the rest. However, I rose to ask a question in regard to one of the Orders in this batch which has come as a considerable shock to me. I happen to be on the committee of more than one institutional charity. These charities receive considerable contributions from places outside the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man and, so far as I know, they have never contravened the Regulations by making an appeal. But it is 172 quite conceivable that in dealing with old subscribers, people outside the country who have subscribed for a long time, they may write letters suggesting that by a certain date a subscription would be particularly useful in war-time, or something of that kind. The question I want to ask is this: Has a member of the committee of such an institution any idea that such a Regulation exists? How are people to know when they are committing a crime? If a remarkable Regulation of this kind is introduced, affecting a great many people who are rendering public service by acting on committees of these charities, and if a Minister calls attention to it, I think it could be said that people acting on such charities had been warned. But I find it very difficult to know how, under existing conditions, people in that position are to know what their responsibilities are and whether they may not be committing an offence without the slightest knowledge that such an offence had been created by Parliament.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby (Epsom)
I think a useful purpose has been served by this Debate to-day although I am not at all satisfied with the reply given by the Home Secretary. What is the alternative to setting up some Select Committee in order to examine these Regulations as they are put upon the Table so that those of a controversial nature, requiring explanation and discussion, shall be referred to the House for that discussion? It is essential that the public for whom we are responsible should be able to understand, so far as is possible, the Regulations that are made. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hampstead (Flight-Lieutenant Challen) said that it might be sufficient if lawyers understood the law—
§ Flight-Lieutenant Challen
I must have been misunderstood. I said it might be an argument that it is sufficient for lawyers to understand it. I do not agree with that argument at all.
§ Sir A. Southby
I am glad that that misunderstanding has been cleared up. God forbid that the general public should trust entirely to the lawyers. What is essential is that they should understand the laws under which they live. Owing to the considerations of war-time necessities it has been inevitable that legislation should be done by Order in Council and by Regulation. The alternative to setting 173 up some form of Select Committee is that every time one of these Orders comes out somebody should pray against it. That is the only way in which the House can be perfectly certain that a Minister will have to come here and explain what the Regulation means. Attention has been called to Regulation 79D. Most of us are interested in some charitable activity and I must confess that until I saw this, I had no idea that it would have been wrong and punishable for me to write to a friend in the United States—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or in the Empire"]—or in the Empire, asking for a subscription.
Yet no explanation has been given to the House of Commons, and unless a Prayer had been moved there would never have been any explanation of this Order. Indeed, there is no explanation now, unless we are to have one from the Solicitor-General. It is the best example that could have been found of the badness of the present system. This document, which is a sort of departmental haggis, has now been brought before the House, but if it had not been for the energy of my hon. Friends who have prayed against it, the matter would never have been ventilated. I suggest that where there is a Regulation which either imposes penalties or alters the law as people understand it, the appropriate Minister should have to explain it to the House. One way would be to issue a White Paper, and then if anybody wished to pray against the Regulations, they could do so. But it ought not to be permissive for the Minister to issue a White Paper; it ought to be imposed upon him to do so as a duty. I think it is essential that unless the time of the House and of Ministers is to be taken up by frequent Prayers against all sorts of regulations—because that is the only way in which we can ensure an explanation being given of what is being done—a Select Committee should be set up which would be able to examine the regulations and, if necessary, assure the House that they are either good and understandable, or, alternatively, that the regulations should be prayed against and discussed on the Floor of the House.
Major Pethcrick (Penryn and Falmouth)
I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Southeast Essex (Flight-Lieutenant Raikes) and his hon. Friends for raising this subject in the form of a Prayer. For many 174 years before the war, we were constantly criticising Acts of Parliament for their extraordinary obscurity, and time after time we proposed Amendments which were very often rejected in the form in which we proposed them, but invariably the objection that was made, in the first instance, was that the Amendment we proposed was not suitable because the wording was not satisfactory. Another point to be remembered is that before the war we tried time and again to impress upon Members of the Government that it was essential in any important Bill to publish on the face of it a memorandum showing roughly what it was about, because although this would have no authority in law, it would at least give the House a chance of getting a broad grip on the Bill before they started to deal with it. Here we are asking that a similar course of action should be followed in the case of all Regulations and Orders which do not show what they mean, so that anybody can understand them, in the body of the Regulation or Order.
I am sorry to criticise the Home Secretary's speech in his absence, but it seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman was not at his brightest and best. His lucidity was such that certainly it confused me during a great part of his speech, and I think he left the House in some difficulty as to what he was after. He attempted to make a very strong defence of government by regulation on the assumption that my hon. Friends and I were attacking the principle of government by Regulation per se. We do not, but we object to the abuse of government by Regulation. Obviously, even in peace-time, and far more in wartime, when the Executive has a mass of legislation to get through, everything cannot be put in the form of Acts of Parliament, and therefore, Regulations are necessary. What we ask is that those Regulations should be good in themselves and shall make sense, and that people, including Members of the House, shall in fact be able to understand them. In the course of his speech, the Home Secretary, to the dissent of the House, said that whatever the Government put forward in the form of Regulations hon. Members ought to be able to understand. That is, of course, an absurd argument, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted, because he very much toned down that suggestion later in his speech. As my hon. Friend 175 the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has pointed out, each Regulation that is laid before the House may entail a very heavy penalty on some unfortunate person who, without in the least knowing it, may in future contravene it. As Dryden said:'Twas a hard fate that to the gallows led. The dog that never heard the statute read.The number of crimes and misdemeanours which one can commit now without knowing anything about them is legion. Therefore, it seems to me essential that the House should, as far as possible, "vet" every legislation with the greatest care. The particular Regulation which we are now discussing is a most blatant and deplorable case of legislation by reference. I do not think my worst enemy would accuse me of being a violent revolutionary. But there is at least one advantage in violent revolution. Everything is destroyed, and, consequently, legislation by reference is not possible because there is nothing to refer to. It seems to me that legislation by reference, although inevitable from time to time, is a habit which should be most sternly discountenanced and discouraged. The suggestion has been made of a Select Committee of the House whose duty it would be to "vet" Regulations and Orders. The Home Secretary turned it down, as far as I could understand largely on the ground that it would put the House in a difficult position if the Select Committee decided that a Regulation was all right and the House then proceeded to turn it down. I do not agree with that view at all, because the object of such a committee is not to say whether a Regulation is right or wrong but to report whether there is any question of principle involved or not. It would still be open to the House, whatever the Committee reported, to move a Prayer to have the Regulation rescinded.
The Home Secretary has offered us two concessions. The first, to my mind, is of some value, but not very much. He says in effect that there is not to be in future any telescoping of Regulations and that they will be put separately. That is all right up to a point, but it is no good having two incomprehensibles instead of one. That is no advantage to the House whatsoever. Therefore each Regulation must be such as the House will understand. The other concession is that an 176 explanatory memorandum should be attached, provided the Minister concerned thinks an explanation desirable. That, I think, is a fair offer, for which we should be grateful, but I hope every Minister who produces Regulations and Orders will interpret that very liberally. It is true that it will entail a little more paper being used, but it is better to use a little more paper than to put forward Regulations which the House itself does not understand and which will not be understood in the country as a whole.
§ The Solicitor-General (Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
May I express my gratitude to my hon. and gallant Friend on two grounds? The first is that he has indicated that neither he nor any of those associated with him want to prejudice or embarrass the Governmental necessities of legislation by Regulation at this time. I think it will be most valuable if it is made clear that that is the view not only of the House as a whole but of my hon. Friends who have raised this matter. The second point on which I am grateful is that my hon. Friend has emphasised, as so many of my hon. Friends have, and as is the desire of the Government, that there should be the greatest possible clarity in these matters. With that objective I have nothing but sympathy, and anything that I can do or any assistance that I can give and any way in which I can act as a vehicle of suggestions from any of my hon. Friends I shall be glad to do, and I shall see that the matter is put forward as well as I can.
I only want to deal with the point that was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) when he emphasised the point, already made by other hon. Members, with regard to the charity Regulations. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) also spoke of them. Both these hon. Members said that what they desired and what they would have welcomed would be if the Minister had made a statement in the House giving publicity to these Regulations. I am sorry for once to catch out two of the most industrious Members of the House in not having read the OFFICIAL REPORT. If they had read it for 30th July, they would have found that a statement was made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary which deals at considerable length—about half a column—with the Regulations and explained why 177 they had to be made. He showed that it was because of the possibility of damage being done to the relations with other countries and unfavourable reactions overseas, especially in the United States. I do not want to make too much of what happens to be a debating advantage which I have on the point, but it will be a relief to my hon. Friends to know that that was done.
§ The Solicitor-General
I have simply had handed to me a quotation from the OFFICIAL REPORT. I can show it to my hon. Friend, or he can look it up himself. I am not saying it was a formal statement. I have been given the extract as an answer to a Question in the House.
§ Sir A. Southby
Was that explanation given when the Regulation was being discussed? If so, I stand convicted. If it was not being discussed, it makes my point the stronger.
§ The Solicitor-General
A Question was put down, and I presume that it was in the mind of the questioner to draw attention to this point. The Question was:Whether it is proposed to take any steps to restrict charitable appeals made overseas on behalf of organisations in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1942; Vol. 382, col. 708.]That is the very point which my hon. and gallant Friend dealt with, and it was dealt with to the extent of half a column by my right hon. Friend.
§ The Solicitor-General
If my hon. Friend had caught the date he would have seen with his particularity of knowledge that the Question was asked on 30th July, which was the date of the first laying.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am glad to have been corrected, but I want to see how far the correction goes, because it is important. Was the statement made as an answer to a starred Question, or was it one of those Questions for which one has to search the 178 OFFICIAL REPORT because there is no knowledge that such an answer was to be given?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not going to make any false point. I was handed this paper only a few minutes ago—my hon. Friend has been in the same position himself—and therefore I am quite prepared to deal with the point on the basis that it was a written Question, which is against myself. That is the only fair way of doing it. All I am saying is that the point on which my hon. Friend waxed most indignant was that there had been, on the very day of the laying of the Regulation, a written answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT which could have been seen by those who had a mind to read it. My hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) says that that is not an answer. I can only say that the Home Secretary before he left did assure me that this was only one of several occasions on which he had adopted this method of indicating that Regulations were about to come forward.
Next I want to deal with two other points. One is the general line of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) that there are no sufficient safeguards, that not sufficient care is taken at the present time. In the first place, when a Regulation is made it has to be considered from the point of view of whether it is within the Emergency Powers Act. I differ from my hon. Friend when he says that these thing are done without the sanction of Parliament. I say the Regulations are made under powers which Parliament has clearly given and, as is admitted in this Debate, which Parliament expects to be used, and I do assure him that every Regulation is considered with the greatest care from the point of view of whether it does transgress the powers which are laid down by the Act of Parliament.
§ Sir H. Williams
That is on the point merely of whether it is constitutional; that is not a test of its merits. There are lots of things which are constitutional to which we object.
§ The Solicitor-General
That is the first test. Then there is the possible corrective of a Prayer in this House. The value of the Debate on a Prayer has been evident to-day and on other occasions we have seen a Prayer succeed against the strongest Government majority that has 179 ever been known. In addition to that we have the corrective of the courts as to whether the Regulations are wrongly or badly made. I submit that these are not small powers. In addition, when the improvements which have been suggested by the Home Secretary are brought into force we shall have greater clarity in the presentation of the Regulations in Orders in Council, and an hon. Member will have a better chance of picking out any Order which he wishes to have annulled. There will also be the explanatory memorandum in cases of difficulty and when it is requested. My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon rather cavilled at the suggestion that one might not have an explanatory memorandum on every occasion, and drew our attention to the memoranda that accompany Bills. I do not want to over elaborate small points, but the difficulty is that when dealing with a short regulation a memorandum achieves a much greater air of authority in proportion to the size of the regulation.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am sorry, but my hon. Friend did quote as a reason for having a memorandum the memorandum which is given with a Bill.
§ Sir H. Williams
The Home Secretary said that there was a constitutional question in connection with a memorandum, and I pointed out that that was nonsense, because memoranda were issued with Bills. I never suggested that we wanted a memorandum for every Order, even if one of only three or four lines. I was only putting forward a sensible proposal for a memorandum when necessary.
§ The Solicitor-General
My hon. Friend asked why we could not have a memorandum with a Regulation when we had one with a Bill. I am suggesting to him that a memorandum issued with a short Regulation achieves an air of authority, especially as regards the legal effect of the Regulation, which is 180 entirely different from that of the short memorandum which accompanies a fairly long Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) made a point with regard to Regulations by reference. I am not going into that question at this hour, but I should like to tell him that the matter has been most carefully considered. The other choices that are open are that one should make a substantive enactment which comes into force separately, and that would have all the disadvantage of disturbing your code and making your reprints of the Regulation very difficult to use. The other choice of amending and reprinting, apart from causing great waste of paper would for many reasons which must be obvious be one Which it would be almost impossible to adopt at a time like the present. Having considered those other choices, we have come back to this way of amending a Regulation, but we make frequent reprints of the whole Regulation so that anyone can, within a short time from each amendment, get the whole picture clearly before him. Obviously my hon. and gallant Friend indicated only the fringes of the problem, and I am only replying in that sense. I have tried to meet the points raised, and I can only say that I hope the House will take the view that the suggestions which my right hon. Friend has made will be helpful and that the Prayer may be withdrawn, in order that we may see how these suggestions will work.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Prayer which stands in the name of my hon. Friends and myself.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)
If the hon. Member resists, the Motion cannot be withdrawn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ It being after the hour appointed for the Adjournment of the House, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.