§ Mr. C. Williams
I beg to move, in page 3, line 41, to leave out from "include," to "a."
This Amendment does not seem at first sight to be of any great consequence, but it is an Amendment which should be made, or, at any rate, before these words are included in the Bill, we should have some very close explanation of the position.
The words I propose to leave out are:and shall be deemed always to have included.It seems to me that when we are legislating in Clauses for further purchases of metal for coinage, that is a pretty wide term. It is, in a sense, retrospective legislation when those words are included. How long does that go back? It could take us right back to the time of the Scottish kings, or to any other time one likes to think about. Unless I can have a legal opinion to the contrary. I stand very clearly by the point that it means an indefinite time. That is my reason for moving this Amendment. These words 1244 seem to be entirely unnecessary, are certainly of a retrospective nature, and have no part in modern legislation.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I think I can give a brief explanation which will satisfy the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). He is quite right. We are here making retrospective legislation in order to modernise a word which, when used in 1870, had a certain meaning which has since narrowed down. In the 1870 Act, the word "bullion" covered not only precious metals but other metals as well. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that "bullion" is now normally taken to mean the precious metals. It may be said that we ought to have made this change before, and to have altered the meaning of the word when the 1920 Act was passed. I was not in the House then, but some hon. Members of the Committee who were, or who have knowledge, will perhaps remember that the 1920 Act was purely an amending Act to the 1870 Act, so this is the first real opportunity since 1870 for giving the word "bullion" its new and up-to-date meaning. That is all we are trying to do in the words which the hon. Gentleman seeks to delete. I think they are essential and therefore I hope he will not carry his objection further.
§ Mr. C. Williams
In the circumstances, I do not think it will be necessary to carry the Amendment to a Division. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his explanation and, although these words are retrospective, I accept that they are necessary because this definition of "bullion" should have been made in the 1920 Act. So many of these retrospective Clauses are put into Bills, however, that it is part of the duty of a Committee of the House to examine them very carefully. That is why I put down the Amendment, but as I am satisfied now that this is not a really bad case of retrospective legislation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.