I beg to move, in page 3, line 19, to leave out from "prescribing," to the first "the", in line 21, and to insert "the manner in which."
This Amendment, if approved, would make the Clause read:The Minister may make regulations describing the manner in which entry on the register of the names of any persons is to be effected.It also omits certain other words which are at present there. Its object is clear to the Minister because he could scarcely have expected to get away with the wording of the Clause as it is at present without hon. Members, on this side particularly, taking exception to the present drafting. Unless I misinterpret the Clause we are, in fact, giving the Minister power to alter the Bill and put in conditions or regulations with regard to who shall not be on the register and to qualify and alter, if necessary, the fundamental conditions for qualification under Clause 1. We are handing over to the Minister complete power to do what he likes. There is a tendency in these days for Departments to insert Clauses of this character about which some of us are highly suspicious, and the Amendment is to give the Minister a chance of explaining why it is necessary for us to agree to such fundamental and 131 far-reaching powers as are included in the present words.
§ Mr. Messer
I do not know whether I correctly understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman but as I read the Clause the Minister has power to disqualify, a power which he would no longer possess if the Amendment were carried. It will place the Minister in great difficulty if circumstances arise in regard to disabled persons on the register and he is not allowed to say that conditions of continued registration no longer apply and should be deleted.
§ Major Manningham-Buller
Will the hon. Gentleman look at the Clause again? It deals with admission to the register.
§ The Attorney-General
I am glad that my hon. and gallant Friend has put down this. Amendment because it gives me an opportunity on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Minister of explaining—I hope to the satisfaction of the Committee—the necessity for a power of this kind. Those, of course, who get on the register obtain an advantage and it is necessary that they should, as it were, play the game with the scheme. Take, for instance, this case: it must be a condition—although it may not be proper to define it in exact terms in the Bill—of getting on the register that the man should be willing to attend either a vocational or rehabilitation course which will fit him, or we hope will fit him, to be of use in any employment to which he might go. There are no conditions with regard to Clauses 2 and 3. It is enough to be considered for vocational or rehabilitation course that you are disabled but when it comes to the question of getting on to the employment register there must be conditions which can be imposed on the individual. I have given one instance which I think everybody will accept. There must be power to say to the person, "You need vocational training if you are to get an advantage and employers are to consider you in the pool from which they have to employ a certain percentage. Therefore, you must undergo a course of vocational or rehabilitation training."
§ Sir J. Nall
May I ask a question on that point? If a man will not undergo training and, therefore, remains in a state 132 in which he cannot be employed, is it not necessary to keep his name on the register so that that information can be checked against him on future occasions?
§ The Attorney-General
No, our view is that he should not be on the register. The register is of people who come under this scheme and of whom a quota has to be taken. If the man does not choose to take advantage of the arrangements for training him he must take his own chance without the advantages which the Bill is intended to confer on people who are registered. I will give another example: A man may be unreasonable and refuse to have medical treatment which is designed to enable him to be as useful as may be to the employer who will be put under an obligation to employ a proportion of people on the register. I will give another example, one which my right hon. Friend may have to consider as he goes along. It is the question whether any obligation should be imposed on people as to their intention to reside in this country. It would not be put as a formal obligation. Perhaps it might be put the other way round. There are a lot of people who have come to this country from other countries for some reason or other and they may be intending to go back as soon as they get the chance. No doubt, broadly speaking, we desire to help them, but there must be a question whether they should go on the register unless the Ministry is satisfied that they intend to remain in employment here if they get the chance. That is a matter about which my right hon. Friend would consider whether he ought to make a reservation.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman referring to enemy aliens, perhaps enlisted in the Pioneer Corps, who have suffered disablement and may be entitled to a pension?
§ The Attorney-General
I am not referring to any one in particular but generally to people who are in the country and may be intending to leave it at the first opportunity.
§ The Attorney-General
I am observing generally that this matter of people who are in this country, or may be when the scheme starts working, but may be going to leave it as soon as may be is one of 133 the matters on which it may be found proper for the Minister to make a Regulation saying that he is satisfied that there is an intention to reside for a certain period before putting the man on the register. There are other cases which will occur to one. There are people perhaps with private resources who come within the definition and have no intention of being employed. I hope I have satisfied everyone that, if the register is to be a real, live representation of what is intended, there should be a possibility of imposing conditions, one or two of which I have enumerated, and people may say, could you not put it in the Bill? Obviously you could not. I think it is a matter which it is absolutely necessary to leave to the more flexible procedure of Regulations, which will be laid before Parliament and in which, no doubt, the British Legion and many other bodies will take a great interest and if there is anything objectionable in them it can be raised.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson (Mossley)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says this is the only practical way to do it. Will he explain the matter further? It is an important point.
§ The Attorney-General
I have instanced four or five examples of what I suggest are obviously proper qualifications or conditions for people to get on the register. This is a somewhat new scheme and there is a good deal of experience to be gained. If you put it in the Bill you will be really hampering the scheme if you have to come back and get an Amending Bill before you can adapt it and get it to work.
§ The Attorney-General
I do not know where the hon. Member puts the apex of perfection from which we have descended. If he takes the period when the policy of laissez faire, advocated at one time by the party sitting behind him, was at its height, there was far less necessity for what is called delegated legislation than when the House decided that it wanted to put in statutory form an increasing number of what are really big administrative schemes. If you take any period of time from which this House began to pass these big administrative statutory schemes you will find a very substantial body of 134 Regulations and Orders because, if the House is to function and to deal with what people desire it to deal with, you cannot cross every t and dot every i of administrative schemes if they are to work properly because you would have the position of having to come back to the House whenever anything fresh came up. [Interruption.] I do not expect to convince the hon. Member. I doubt whether the angel Gabriel would convince him. But we feel that, if the scheme is to work properly and to adapt itself to the new experience that is bound to be gained as it is put in operation, it is necessary to have the power to make Regulations dealing with these conditions. They will be laid before Parliament and, if there is anything objectionable in them, we can have Prayers, and we think that is the right method to get the scheme adapted to the experience which will be gathered as we go along.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
I have not taken any part in the discussion on this Bill up to now but I have listened very carefully to the points that have arisen on other Amendments. In some measure the right hon. and learned Gentleman has met the objections which rest in some of our minds by saying that the Regulations will have to come before Parliament, but to some extent that is only a tenuous safeguard because there are so many matters on which Parliament can, if it so desires, support a Prayer that it is difficult, unless there is a large group of people watching them, which I believe is the case at present, to prevent things getting through which Parliament should discuss. However, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not answered this point. In Sub-section (2) (a) the very widest powers are given to the Minister. The words are:If the Minister is satisfied that the applicant is a disabled person and that his disablement is likely to continue for six months or more from the time of the entry of his name in the register, that any prescribed condition as to the entry of names in the register applicable to him is satisfied and that he is not subject to any prescribed disqualification in that behalf, his name shall be entered in the register.How, then, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman argue that it may be desirable for a Minister in the future to make Regulations when he has power to lay down the prescribed conditions in advance?
§ The Attorney-General
The prescribed conditions referred to can only be applied under Regulations, the power to make which this Amendment would remove from the Minister.
§ Earl Winterton
If that is so, that answers my point. The Amendment as it stands would hardly deal with the difficulty that the mover suggested because really the whole of the words ought to be taken out.
May I turn to a point on which I would earnestly ask for the support of the Committee? I was very much concerned to hear what the Attorney-General had to say about the sort of conditions which, if he is given the power we are discussing, the Minister might prescribe. The purport of his remarks was that the Minister would have to be satisfied that the applicant was intending to reside in this country.
§ The Attorney-General
I said that it was a matter which the Minister might have to consider. I did not say categorically that he would.
§ Earl Winterton
It creates a dangerous situation. An hon. Friend behind me mentioned alien members of the Pioneer Corps, but I would put what I think is the stronger case of a man who intends at some time or other to return to the Dominions. What about a Dominion soldier, an Australian or Canadian, who happens to find himself in this country? He is a British subject and there is nothing to prevent him, if he is disabled and comes within the category of the Bill, taking advantage of it. Is it in the Minister's mind to say to that man, "Unless you intend to reside in this country permanently or for two or three years you will not get the advantage of the register"? It is an important point. I suggest that my right hon. and learned Friend was rather satirical at the expense of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), but it does not seem to me to be a matter of satire or for jest. It seems to me to be rather a serious thing that on a case of this kind there should be a certain amount of doubt in the Minister's mind as to the kind of regulation which is to be prescribed. I should like to have an assurance that there is no question about any Dominion soldier, whether he is going to reside permanently in this country or not, having the right to take advantage of this Bill.
136 The Minister may reply that my right hon. and learned Friend gave this as an illustration and that it does not mean that the Government will do anything of the kind which I fear. It does, however, illustrate the danger of the tendency, which is growing so fast in this House, to leave the Minister to make regulations. I should like to be assured that the Government do not contemplate that any person born in the Dominions who is a British subject and who is resident in this country at the time the Act comes into operation will not be put on the register because he is not a permanent resident.
§ Sir J. Nall
This Sub-section and the Amendment we are discussing raise much wider issues than that discussed by the noble Lord. We must remember that this is a post-war measure and permanent legislation. It is not emergency legislation and, therefore, it ought not to contain that element of government by regulation and of legislation by orders and rules which has been such a pernicious feature of the war-time method of carrying on business, but which was unavoidable in the emergency of the times. When we come to permanent Statutes, which will remain on the book for many years and be operated for 50 years in some cases, we ought to get away from the war-time practice of rules and regulations. This Sub-section says that the Minister may make regulations prescribing matters which are to constitute conditions on which a man may be on the register at all. In spite of Clause 1 and of this Debate, the Minister can make a regulation quite contrary to anything we have been saying here to-day. He can under these words make an entirely new rule or code or he can invent in a negative sense disqualifications which would debar a person from being on the register. He can make conditions under which a man could go on the register or disqualifications which would ensure a man being crossed off. It is a very wide scope and it leaves to the Minister and his successors power to amend the entire character of this Bill by rules and regulations. So far as my right hon. and learned Friend made out a case, as he did for regulations of sorts, it would be fully met by this and the consequential Amendment. If the Subsection were revised by these Amendments it would read:The Minister may make regulations prescribing the manner in which the entry in the 137 register of the names of any persons is to be effected.That is what the Attorney-General made a case for just now. The Department will be able to do what the Government want within the framework of the words proposed in these Amendments. What I and my hon. Friends object to is that under the Clause as it stands the Department will be able in years to come to say, as an hon. Friend opposite suggested, that there is such a large increase in the number of disabled persons owing to accidents on the road that they must be given preference over people in employment. That could be done under the Clause and it would be quite contrary to all that has been said to-day. We do not want to leave these matters in the hands of the Department to do as it likes with them. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretaries have been saying what they want to do. Do not let us put something into the Bill which will enable the Department under the guise of regulations to knock the bottom out of the whole thing in a few years' time.
There are Amendments on page 23 in the names of the hon. and learned Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill) and myself which I think very largely cover many of the points raised. I hope that I shall get the support of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) when we reach them. I would be content with the Government's attitude to the Amendment we are discussing if I could receive an assurance that favourable consideration will be given to my Amendments. I agree that we are feeling our way in this Bill, that we are not sure of the numbers to be catered for, or of the complications that might arise with regard to foreigners and Dominion citizens, or of the whole host of problems which will arise after the war. We must try to lay down in this Bill the general line of policy and I feel that we ought to keep the control of Parliament far more than is laid down in the Bill. If I could receive an assurance that instead of having orders and regulations laid on the Table we could have an affirmative Resolution for each of the regulations, it would to a large extent meet the objections that have been voiced in discussion on the present Amendment.
§ Mr. John Wilmot (Kennington)
I think it would be convenient to the Committee 138 if the Minister or the Attorney-General at this stage could give an assurance that no regulation will be made under this Clause which would go outside Clause I and the general intention of the Bill.
§ The Attorney-General
My hon. Friend asks me on behalf of my right hon. Friend to give an assurance that he will not use the regulation-making power under Clause 7—assuming it could be so used, which I doubt—to torpedo or evade or obstruct the plain purpose of the Bill. I am sure I can give that assurance in the most unqualified terms on behalf of my right hon. Friend, who is sitting behind me and hears what I say. I agree that the words look a little wide, but under this scheme you must have disqualifications and it is impossible to define them all with exactitude or precision.
Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to indicate the view he is likely to take of the later Amendment to which I have referred?
I am bound to say that I do not follow the last explanation of the Attorney-General. It is surely perfectly plain from the very clear explanation he gave earlier that the Minister can lay down conditions with regard to a wide range of subjects, including compulsory attendance at vocational training courses, and possibly compulsory direction to labour in any part of the country. He can therefore create a class of labour wholly unknown and so far not tolerated by the trade unions. That is a thing which goes far beyond anything in Clause 1. I am not going to argue the merits of whether it is wise or unwise to introduce Regulations of that kind, but I think the whole Committee will agree that when we are giving powers of that kind we ought not to let them pass through the House without an affirmative Resolution. Therefore, I would join other hon. Members in urging that we should have an undertaking that that sort of Regulation cannot be introduced without giving the House very full opportunity of considering the Regulation.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
There are two points arising out of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. It is no use to the House to be given an assurance from the Government that they will not use certain powers in a certain way. The 139 question we have to ask is what kind of powers they are asking for. A Minister cannot commit any succeeding Minister and the same Minister may act differently at different times. It is no assurance to say that the Minister does not propose to use certain powers in a certain fashion. We have to ask ourselves what these powers are. It is perfectly clear we cannot have a Clause which gives a Minister power to make regulations which violate Clause 1 of the Bill, because he can only issue Regulations in pursuance of Clause 1. But Clause 1 of the Bill is very wide and this Clause can very considerably modify the position of individuals even within the terms of Clause 1. It is very important that men returning from the Services and everyone to whom the Bill refers should know what are their rights. It is very important that when the original and preliminary explanation is given they shall know the whole of the relationship between them and the Government.
If at some subsequent stage regulations are issued, about which they know nothing, which will considerably modify that relationship and their rights and obligations, you will get a terrific amount of bad feeling and a very large number of people will never get their rights because they will not know what those rights are. We do not want would-be beneficiaries to have to go to lawyers to find out what is the law. I sincerely suggest that if the Minister, instead of insisting on these words, would introduce at a subsequent stage an Amendment indicating the categories about which he proposes to make Regulations, indicating the kind of disqualification and the kind of conditions he has in mind, that would enable people in the first instance to understand their position and make unnecessary the issue of a series of regulations which would have the effect of making people unaware of their rights. Although it is perfectly true that the major apprehensions of the mover of the Amendment may be erroneous, because the matter is governed by Clause 1, nevertheless very wide powers are being given and I think it would be far better to put these things in the Bill rather than in regulations afterwards.
§ Major Manningham-Buller
To my surprise I find myself in almost complete 140 agreement with what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has just said. I only differ on one point. As I read the Bill it is within the power of the Minister, as the Bill now stands, to limit the operation of Clause 1, and indeed it is the intention that the Minister shall make Regulations which may cut down the qualifications of disabled persons because he has to specify what are the conditions for entry and what conditions shall disqualify. The Attorney-General has given reasons for the Minister having some power to make Regulations. I do not suppose the Committee would object to the Minister having power to make Regulations on certain specific subjects, but we are being asked to give the Minister a complete blank cheque, which I suggest will really be a blank cheque to bureaucracy. It may be necessary to have power to make some Regulations, but I submit that we should not give such a general charter to make a mass of Regulations which will have permanent effect.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am bound to say I have been surprised to hear some of the arguments advanced in support of this Amendment. One might think, listening to some of the speeches, that if the Amendment were adopted the Minister would not make any Regulations. I do not read the Amendment in that way. If we pass the Amendment the Minister would still have power to make Regulations.
Therefore, I do not understand why some hon. Members are so angry with the Government on this Amendment. If they were making a case for putting into the Bill every qualification or disqualification and every condition which could at any time apply to deprive the disabled of rights they should have, then I could understand the argument, but that argument has not been advanced. Hon. Members are not saying, "Let us have everything in the Bill"; they say "Let us have regulations, but a different kind of Regulations." It seems to me, with great respect to most of those who have taken part in the discussion, that a good deal of the argument has been thoroughly insincere and intended to be a shot in the general skirmish between those who believe that in reconstruction the Government must have certain powers to govern by delegated legislation and Regulation and those who would like to prevent that.
141 Looking at the particular matters that are referred to, I dissent entirely from the view of those who say that under Clause 7 the Government would have power to take away from persons the rights conferred by Clause I. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has rightly said that Clause 1 is very wide. It defines "disabled person" in a very liberal way. I do not think that under Clause 7 the Government could make a Regulation which took away from persons on whom a right is conferred by Clause 1 any of that right.
§ Sir D. Thomson
I have read Clause 1 a number of times. The hon. Gentleman keeps talking about rights conferred by it, but the Clause is merely a definition and there are no rights conferred.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend and I do not think that anything I have said is in conflict with what he has said. Of course Clause 1 is a definition Clause. Clause 7 is in a sense a definition Clause too, and Regulations under Clause 7 will be, in a sense, definition Regulations. I am saying—and this is precisely my point and I am very grateful to the hon. Member for enabling me to make it more clearly—that if any Regulations defined disability in a narrower way than it is defined under Clause 1, such a Regulation would be ultra vires and inoperative.
§ Sir D. Thomson
There is no question of defining disability under Clause 7. It is a matter of who shall go on the register.
§ Mr. Silverman
Conditions about getting on the register must be conditions under the Bill and conditions can only define the persons who are entitled to get on the register. They must be under the general authority of, and not in conflict with, the definitions in Clause 1 of the Bill. Otherwise, they would be ultra vires. Surely that must be right. If the Bill defines disability in Clause 1, no Regulation under Clause 7 which had the effect of cutting down the definition under Clause 1 could be legally effective. [Interruption.] The question of what use there is in the Clause may be a different matter. It is a different argument which is not now before the Committee. We are considering whether any dangers exist under the Clause as it stands. Most of the dangers that have been foreshadowed by 142 those who supported the Amendment are based on the misconception that a Regulation under Clause 7 could cut down on persons entitled under Clause 1. I contend that any such Regulation would be ultra vires.
It is obvious that persons coming under Clause I have to be disabled persons. Having once accepted that they are disabled persons, we are now considering a Clause which entitles the Minister to say not only that they may not be disabled but that they are people who have undertaken to attend a vocational training course, and if necessary, to go anywhere in the country where they are directed to work, under any conditions which the Ministry of Labour decide. In that sense, surely the hon. Member would agree that the Regulations would go a great deal further than saying that the persons were disabled.
§ Mr. Silverman
I quite follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman's point and it is not in conflict with what I have been saying. Nobody in the Committee believes that the Government should not have the power to impose conditions. Everybody concedes that to be the case. The argument that has been advanced has been whether the conditions which the Government are expected to make should be done by one kind of Regulation or another kind. The Debate narrows down to that very small point, and what I have been saying so far is that the dangers which have been in the minds of many speakers cannot possibly arise under Regulations made under Clause 7 because those conditions would be in conflict with Clause 1 and, therefore, ultra vires.
§ Mr. Hutchinson
Surely it is possible to make a Regulation which would exclude a large number of disabled persons from being put on the register at all. That is the point.
§ Mr. Silverman
So would any form of Regulation, and so it would under the Amendment too. The remedy would be to oppose such a Regulation on the Floor of this House. It comes back to the same point. Nobody says that conditions should not be imposed and nobody, so far, has said that all the conditions should or could be in the Bill. It therefore follows that we are unanimous that conditions should be imposed, and that they 143 should be imposed by Regulation, and the only thing about which we differ is as to the kind of Regulation. That seems to be quite clear. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] If it is not, perhaps some hon. Member will let us know. There is no form of Regulation under the Clause as it stands which cannot be attacked in the House. From the point of view of controlling the Government's power to make Regulations, the power of the House is just as great ultimately under one form of Regulation as under the other. The machinery is different, and that is all. It seems to me that a great deal of fuss and bother have been made about very little, and I would like to see the Committee get on with the Bill.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
It seems to me that further explanation is required of the words contained in the Clause. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) appears to see no limitation in this Clause, or so I understood him to say, and I think he challenged any hon. Member to show that there was some restriction.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not want to go off on a false premise. So far from saying that there was no restriction I said that everybody who had participated in the Debate so far had agreed that there had to be conditions and that the Government must have power to make them.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am afraid that my hon. Friend is not fortifying his case in the least. Surely the point is that the purpose of the Measure is to provide vocational training for disabled persons. There is no dispute about that—or is there? An hon. Member says that it is only one of the things. Very well, it is a primary object. [Interruption.] All right, I am very accommodating, so I will say that it is one of the primary objects of the Measure to provide vocational training preparatory to employment. Reference is made in the Clause to conditions. What are those conditions? They are of a very wide character, as has been pointed out by the right hon. and learned Member. I take it he stands by it and also by their limiting character, because reference is made to disqualification from entry on the register. What are the conditions which would justify the Minister making a Regulation 144 disqualifying any disabled person from appearing on the register for the purpose of undertaking vocational training preparatory to employment? That is the point.
§ Mr. Shinwell
It makes no difference at all. If it is for employment it is just the same. The intention is to provide employment for disabled persons. Very well, what is the reason for disqualification under certain conditions? Can the Minister explain that? If there was a clear explanation as to the nature of the disqualifications which prevent entry to the register perhaps the Committee would be in a position to appreciate the point, but I gather so far as I have heard the Debate that no hon. Member understands the reason for this limiting condition. When we have that explained to us we shall know where we stand. The only other point I would like to put to my right hon. Friend is this: This Bill is intended to fortify the spirits of those who are now disabled, and to encourage those who may be disabled. One way of doing it is to present them with legislation couched in the clearest possible language. I must confess I have had the greatest difficulty—I ascribe it to my own incompetence—in understanding the meaning of the words which I shall read, and one can imagine what a disabled person would make of them:The Minister may make regulations prescribing matters which are to constitute conditions of, or disqualifications from, the entry in the register of the names of any persons, either generally or in particular circumstances.I must confess that to me that is Greek, and I imagine it might even appear to be more profound and disturbing to people who are not so fortunately situated. I would beg my right hon. Friend first to clear up the point regarding this limiting condition of disqualification, to indicate for whom it is intended, if indeed there are to be any disqualifications at all. Who are the persons likely to be affected, because let us make it quite clear that if disabled ex-Servicemen are likely to be disqualified on any ground whatever there will be a serious disturbance in the minds of those people, and I imagine hon. Members will feel disquiet. The first thing is to remove any doubt there may be in the minds of hon. Members and then to see if we can- 145 not formulate a more simple form of words, to see whether this cannot be clarified.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
Will the Minister when replying be good enough to answer my suggestion that the difficulty might be got over if in the Schedule to the Bill the conditions which he prescribes should be set out? It is no use for Members to argue that these words are not extremely wide in their application. Let them read tower down. The first thing a man has to do to be qualified is to be disabled. He must be disabled. He cannot come into the picture at all until he has been disabled. Then a whole series of events, conditions, entirely unknown conditions at the moment, may have to be satisfied before he enters the register. To read lower down, under Sub-section (2) (a) of Clause 7:If the Minister is satisfied that the applicant is a disabled person and that his disablement is likely to continue for six months or more from the time of the entry of his name in the register——
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
On a point of Order. I am not quite clear whether we are on this Amendment and the succeeding Amendment connected with it.
§ The Chairman (Major Milner)
The Amendment we are discussing is that on page 3, line 19, and not the related one.
§ Mr. Bevan
Sub-section (2) (a) defines what the first part of Sub-section (1) of Clause 7 is actually doing because it says:if the Minister is satisfied that the applicant is a disabled person and that his disablement is likely to continue for six months or more from the time of the entry of his name in the register, that any prescribed condition as to the entry of names in the register applicable to him is satisfied—That is the first point, the point the Committee is now dealing with. He must now satisfy that other condition in addition to being disabled. What that other condition means no one knows; neither does the applicant for entry into the register know nor will he know until the regulation is issued and, after it is made, if it is modified from time to time. I think my hon. Friend is pressing his point too far. I am not arguing that if the Amendment were carried our grievance would be redressed. That often happens in Committee in the House, that an Amendment is often a peg upon which a grievance is 146 hung, and it is for the Government and the Parliamentary draftsmen to put our intentions into proper language if we convince the Committee that these things should be carried out. I am not saying that this Amendment is the proper vehicle for our purpose.
§ Mr. Silverman
Surely it is not a vehicle at all for doing what my hon. Friend wants. I should have no objection to the principle, if it were practically possible, of putting into the Schedule all prescribed conditions. All I say is that it has nothing to do with this Amendment and that this Amendment takes not a single step on that road.
§ Mr. Bevan
That is what I would say. That is why I interrupted. I said that it frequently happens that that is the case and that if it is the case it is for the Government to assist the House if the Committee convince the Government that something ought to be done, that the Committee's intentions should be carried out in an appropriate Amendment or some other way. I suggested a Schedule to the Bill. If one goes on reading, one will see ifhe is not subject to any prescribed disqualification …So in fact there is another condition we do not know. The original words in Clause 1 of the Bill are likely to be profoundly modified by any regulations the Minister may issue. I say that that being the case it is a situation which we ought not to allow to pass without having some idea of what these modified conditions are to be. I do not take the same attitude of my hon. Friend towards delegated legislation. Delegated legislation is in principle an evil and ought to be restricted as much as possible and only to be allowed where there is no other convenient way of doing a particular thing, but to argue that delegated legislation necessarily arms the Executive to deal effectively with certain vested interests that might otherwise use the House of Commons is an argument that the House of Commons ought to be abolished because vested interests could be dealt with by a corporate State.
The most effective instrument for dealing with vested interests outside the House should be a democratic and independent House of Commons, not powers vested in the Executive which they might use furtively and tyrannically. We ought to be satisfied in this particular instance that 147 these delegated powers are necessary. I urge my hon. Friends on this side of the House in particular with regard to this kind of legislation that we ought not to allow delegated powers, that ordinary working class people ought to know their rights by looking up the original Bill. They ought not to have their rights cut away or enlarged by action of the Executive without knowing anything about it. If my suggestion about the Schedule were adopted it would do the whole job, the House would understand it, people outside would understand it and it would save time.
§ Earl Winterton
I would ask the Government whether they would accept a Motion "That the Chairman do report 148 Progress and ask leave to sit again." It is obvious that we cannot dispose of this matter in a few minutes. There has been an important question about the Dominions which has not been answered, and I would ask the Government whether they would accept my suggestion. We cannot deal with the matter in five minutes.
Motion made and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Captain McEwen.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.