HC Deb 18 February 1944 vol 397 cc568-9

Any certificate issued under the principal Act shall, if the person in respect of whom such certificate is issued, is occupying a post outside the United Kingdom, expire at the end of six months from its issue.

Provided that in the case of certificates already granted the date of expiry shall be six months from the passing of this Act.—[Major Petherick.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Major Petherick

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Although this new Clause is likely to be refused by the Government, I propose to spend only two minutes on it, unlike the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville), whose new Clause was accepted by the Government, but who spent 20 minutes in talking on it. My Clause is somewhat different from the question we discussed on an earlier Clause, but the principle is broadly the same. It would shorten the period for which a certificate can be granted to six months. I think that the gravamen of the charge against this Bill is with regard to hon. Members serving long periods outside this country, and this attempt to limit to six months the period for which they should serve applies only to them.

The Attorney-General

I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend, whom I should like to thank for his remarks about me personally earlier in the day, will not press his proposed Clause. One can take the line, which we cannot discuss now, that one does not like this Bill at all. On the other hand, if one accepts the principle, and accepts, for instance, that it is right for the Government to be able to send, as they have done, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Ben Smith) to America in connection with Supply work, my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. John Maclay) to America in connection with shipping, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. H. Macmillan) to be a Resident Minister—if one accepts that principle, it would be impracticable to confine oneself to a rigid statutory provision of six months. Take the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees. We might find at the end of six months that negotiations with which he had been dealing were in a state when it would inflict great damage on the work he had been doing if he were recalled by a cast-iron statutory provision of this kind. I assume, of course, that my hon. and gallant Friend's intention is that when the six months comes to an end there should be no power to grant another six months. The broad question with which this new Clause deals is one of the most important of the matters which the Cabinet have undertaken to consider.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.