HC Deb 27 October 1943 vol 393 cc249-53
The Lord Advocate

I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, to leave out from "Chairman," to "two," in line 4, and to insert "and."

During the Second Reading Debate there was some criticism of a provision in the Schedule under which the chairmen of the tribunals are required to be lawyers. We think there is considerable force in that criticism. In more outlying areas in particular it might be that there was a layman who would be more suitable as chairman than any lawyer who would be available, and therefore we are proposing this Amendment to make it possible to appoint as chairman whatever person the Secretary of State may select as most suitable.

Mr. Kirkwood

On behalf of my colleagues, I think we can say we accept the Amendment, which will save us moving our Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Gallacher

I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, after "State," to insert "in consultation with the local authority."

Upon an earlier Amendment the democrats were very anxious to have democracy when it was the form of democracy without any content. They wanted to have consultations with the local authorities whether such consultations were necessary or not, and it is obvious that unnecessary consultations are not a help but a hindrance. Now the democrats, realising the fix they are in, have taken good care to relieve the Committee of their presence. One of them, I see, has returned and I think it would be gracious on my part to leave the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Mr. Watson) to make the arguments in support of this Amendment, for here is an Amendment dealing with the content of democracy, a case where consultation with the local authority is desirable over the setting up of the tribunal and arranging its personnel. A local authority will be capable of making suggestions or giving advice respecting particular individuals in the area who understand the problems which arise out of sub-letting. The earlier Amendment was form without content. Here we have an Amendment of a democratic character that deals with content, and I hope that the democrats, the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay), the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs, the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) and the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. H. Stewart), who were so anxious to advertise their democracy, will be as vocal now as they were then.

The Lord Advocate

A little while ago the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) wanted us to leave out a provision at the beginning of the Bill that there should be consultation with the local authority, and now he wants us to put it in towards the end. We preferred it at the beginning and the Committee agreed, and we do not see any need to have it in twice. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that the Secretary of State has every intention of consulting with local authorities not only at this stage but at every relevant stage. One reason why it would not be suitable to insert this Amendment is that tribunals may act for more than one local authority's area, and it would be a little embarrassing, if a tribunal had been appointed first for one area and then we had to re-appoint it for another area, to have to go through the form of consultation with another local authority; but I can assure the hon. Member that there is every intention of taking local authorities with us and giving the fullest possible attention to their views.

Mr. Gallacher

If the meaningless words in Clause 1 which I proposed should be omitted had been left out, the Secretary of State would still have been able to consult with any and every local authority, but it was insisted that the words had to remain whether consultations were necessary or not. Here it is essential that the Secretary of State should have consultations with the local authorities, but now the Government are not prepared to put that in the Bill, but wish to leave it to his discretion. I want support for the local authorities and democracy.

Mr. Watson

I am sorry that I missed part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), but I am glad to know that at last he has come to recognise that local authorities should be consulted upon matters concerned with subletting. On Clause 1 he did not regard consultation with the local authorities as of much importance.

Mr. Gallacher

It was not necessary.

Mr. Watson

So long as the Secretary of State was prepared to issue orders for the setting-up of tribunals that was regarded as all that was necessary. On Clause 1 I put in a plea for consultation with the local authorities, and now my hon. Friend is advocating that local authorities should be consulted about other matters as well. I am quite willing that they should be consulted at all stages, and I am very glad that in the course of this Debate our friends have come back to the true democratic path.

Mr. Sloan

There is nothing in this Bill to indicate that the Secretary of State is to consult with anybody. The plain reading of it is that the chairman and the other members of a tribunal shall be appointed by the Secretary of State. Experience with other committees in Scotland appointed recently does not give Members of Parliament much reason to accept the bald statement from the Lord Advocate. A question was answered yesterday about the appointment of a chairman of some other body, and in that case the Secretary of State had the right to make the appointment without consulting anybody at all. The point raised by the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Mr. Watson) is not an analogous one. What we discussed earlier was the appointment of tribunals, and there was no need for the local authorities to be consulted. Here we are placing arbitrary powers in the hands of the Secretary of State, and we cannot hind future Secretaries of State, whatever the present holder of the office may propose to do. It may be said in future to another Secretary of State, "A definite promise was given that before these things were done you would consult with the local authority," and he could reply, that that was a promise given by his predecessor and that he was not bound by it. Surely, we are having too many committees appointed. The first thing we see about them is in the newspapers, and goodness knows where the members are drawn from. Many of them have no administrative ability or ex-

Division No. 26. AYES.
Bevan, A. McGovern, J. Stephen, C.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) McKinlay, A. S. Tinker, J. J.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McNeil, H. Watson W. McL.
Foster, W. Maxton, J.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Gallacher, W. Sexton, T. M. Mr. Kirkwood and Mr. Sloan.

perience that can be seen. Yet we are powerless in the matter, because the Secretary of State has power to make the appointment. I hope that the addition of these few words will clarify the position and allay suspicion in regard to these appointments. I hope that the Amendment will be accepted.

Mr. McGovern

The Amendment is very reasonable and should be accepted. I do not support it in the spirit that members of the tribunals selected from the ranks of the working class will be more progressive than people from other ranks. I have had experience of both types, and sometimes the difference amazes me. In the tribunal in Edinburgh dealing with conscientious objectors the chairman is a real lord, Lord Elphinstone, and it would be difficult to get a fairer minded man in any part of the country. I have also gone before members of working-class bodies and found them thoroughly reactionary. I would prefer a man like Lord Elphinstone to, say, the Home Secretary, in charge of an appeal tribunal. There are many fair-minded people who could be appointed, in consultation with local authorities, who know the people in the area. I would ask the Lord Advocate to accept the Amendment.

If the Lord Advocate says that the Secretary of State intends to consult the local authorities, what is then objectionable about putting into the Bill the actual promise that is made? Sometimes personal promises are made on the Front Bench by Lord Advocates or Secretaries of State who are well-meaning and well-intentioned, but power passes from one party to another and then the authorities in the law courts say: "We have nothing to do with what was said in the House of Commons. The point is whether it is contained in the Act." If promises are made here that there will be consultation, they should be redeemed in the proper way, by being put into the Bill.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 15; Noes, 224.

Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Gretton, J. F. Rankin, Sir R.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Gridley, Sir A. B. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Albery, Sir Irving Groves, T. E. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Ammon, C. G. Gunston, Major Sir D. W. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Apsley, Lady Hammersley, S. S. Rickards, G. W.
Aske, Sir R. W. Hannah, I. C. Ridley, G.
Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ritson, J.
Barnes, A. J. Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A. Roberts, W.
Barr, J. Holy-Hutchinson, M. R. Robertson, D. (Streatham)
Barstow, P. G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ross Taylor, W.
Beattie, F. (Cathcart) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Rowlands, G.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'ts'h) Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Beechman, N. A. Hepworth, J. Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)
Beit, Sir A. L. Hewlett, T. H. Salt, E. W.
Benson, G. Higgs, W. F. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Barry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham) Hinchinbrooke, Viscount Savory, Professor D. L.
Blair, Sir R. Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. Hollins, A. (Hanley) Selley, H. R.
Boulton, W. W. Horsbrugh, Florence Shephard, S.
Bower, Norman (Harrow) Howitt, Dr. A. B. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Boyce, H. (Leslie) Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh) Shute, Col. Sir J. J.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B. Isaacs, G. A. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. James, Wing-Com. A. (Well'borough) Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R. Jarvis, Sir J. J. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D. Snadden, W. McN.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Jennings, R. Somerset, T.
Bull, B. B. Jewson, P. W. Spearman, A. C. M.
Bullock, Capt. M. John, W. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Burden, T. W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (Stl'g & C'km'n) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Burke, W. A. Jones, L. (Swansea, W.) Strickland, Capt. W. F.
Butcher, H. W. Keeling, E. H. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (Northwich)
Cadogan, Major Sir E. Keir, Mrs. Cazalet Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley) Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Campbell, Dermot (Antrim) Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.) Summers, G. S.
Challen, Flight-Lieut. C. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Sutcliffe, H.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Lawson, J. J. Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.
Charleton, H. C. Leach, W. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Chater, D. Lees-Jones, J. Tate, Mavis C.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Levy, T. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Cobb, Captain E. C. Liddall, W. S. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Colegate, W. A. Lipson, D. L. Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Colman, N. C. D. Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.) Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'thm'tn)
Conant, Major R. J. E. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Ladywood) Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Loftus, P. C. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Craven-Ellis, W. Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard Touche, G. C.
Culverwell, C. T. Manningham-Buller, Major R. E. Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.
Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd) McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Turton, R. H.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) McKie, J. H. Viant, S. P.
Denville, Alfred Magnay, T. Wakefield, W. W.
Dobbie, W. Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E. Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W. Marshall, F. Walkden, E. (Doncaster)
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. Mathers, G. Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Watkins, F. C.
Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich) Mills, Colonel J. D. (New Forest) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond) Mitchell, Colonel H. P. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Eccles, D. M. Molson, A. H. E. White, H. (Derby, N. E.)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Montague, F. White H. Graham (Birkenhead E.)
Edwards Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Ellis, Sir G. Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Mort, D. L. Wilkinson, Ellen
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Muff, G. Willink, H. U.
Errington, Squadron-Leader E. Naylor, T. E. Wilmot, John
Etherton, Ralph Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham) Windsor, W.
Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.) Palmer, G. E. H. Woodburn, A.
Everard, Sir W. Lindsay Perkins, W. R. D. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Fermoy, Lord Peters, Dr. S. J. Woolley, Major W. E.
Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L. Petherick, Major M. Wootton-Davies, J. H.
Fox, Flight-Lieut. Sir G. W. G. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)
Galbraith, Comdr. T. D. Peto, Major B. A. J. York, Major C.
Gammans, Capt. L. D. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Gibson, Sir C. G. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Gower, Sir R. V. Radford, E. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M. Mr. Pym and Mr. Drewe.
Greenwell, Col. T. G. Ramsden, Sir E.

Amendment made: In page 5, line 9, leave out from the first "place," to the end of line 11.—[Mr. Johnston.]

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