§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, to leave out from "effect," to "as," in line 8, and to insertwith regard to any Bill introduced after the passing of this Act.The Clause would then read:The Parliament Act, 1911, shall have effect with regard to any Bill introduced after the passing of this Act as if——certain Amendments had been made. The words proposed to be added are not essential. The result would be the same if the words we propose to delete were deleted and nothing was put in their place, but we have put down the words to be added so that there may be no doubt about the meaning of the Clause as so amended. I will begin by stating one or two things which I feel sure will command universal acceptance and develop my arguments from them. We would all agree that it is still unusual to have words such as:… deemed to have had effect from——a certain date—inserted in any legislation. In other words, retrospective legislation is unusual, and any proposal to make such legislation ought to be justified by a good reason. I do not propose to rehearse the well-known arguments against retrospective legislation, but I shall command pretty universal assent if I say that the more important the subject matter of the Bill, the more important must be the reason for making it retrospective in effect. When we come to a Bill which upsets the balance of the Constitution 585 and takes a long step towards single-chamber Government, there ought to be an overwhelming reason stated before this House is asked to accept that proposal.
One must have in mind that, unlike the great majority of other nations, we in this House and Parliament have precisely the same procedure for the most minor alteration of the law as for the most important constitutional amendments; moreover, our system of election is such that there may be no majority in this country although there is a large majority in this House. For both those reasons it seems essential that whatever be the strict letter of the law with regard to the making of constitutional changes, a Government with a sense of responsibility ought to use procedure of this kind very sparingly and with discretion. I find it almost incredible that any Government would seek to ante-date a constitutional change if the true purpose of the Bill were to amend or to improve our Constitution, but if the purpose of the Bill is something quite different, if the Bill itself is just a dodge to achieve an ulterior object by a subterfuge, the reason for this retroactive proposal becomes quite obvious.
The gist of this Debate would therefore seem to be a searching on our part—and, I hope, an answer on the part of the Government—for what is behind this retroactive provision. What is the real reason why the Government want it? An unusual provision of this sort can only be justified by putting forward very specific reasons. I have searched the Debates which have already occurred on this Bill in order to find such a reason. I find no real indication of the reasons in the Lord President's opening, but when I come to the Home Secretary, from whom we always expect and get candour, I find that he has given us a reason. He has not dissented from the view that the real reason for this is connected with the nationalisation of iron and steel and he added that perhaps there might be some other need for it; and that was as far as he went.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood) dealt with the matter at somewhat greater length. I will remind the Committee of what he said. I will not read it all but will quote a number of passages, in a way which I do not 586 think alters the sense. I think it right to say I am doing that.
He said:I would have preferred to see iron and steel in the programme… My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in his opening speech this Session, pledged this Parliament to deal with iron and steel…He went on:Had the steel Bill been introduced this Session the need for the use of the Parliament Act as it was passed might have arisen, but no need would have arisen for tinkering with it.A few lines later he said:I regard this as a very doubtful political expedient on which we are entering this Session…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1947; Vol. 443, c. 897–8.]That confirms the view I have already expressed about the real reason for this proposal. I find that a back bench hon. Member, the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry (Mr. Ungoed-Thomas), who is in the habit of speaking with candour, made it quite clear that in his view the whole point of this proposal was to get the iron and steel Bill through in this Parliament. The great majority of hon. Members on the other side would agree with that statement of view. I therefore propose to address myself to this proposal on the footing that it has only been justified, and could only be justified, in view of the iron and steel nationalisation programme.
It would be out of Order, and I would not attempt it, to argue whether nationalising iron and steel is a good thing or not and I will try to keep scrupulously away from any such argument, but I am entitled to say that it is admittedly not a Measure necessary to deal with the present economic crisis.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If any hon. Member says "no," he has to meet the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that that industry is an efficient industry and to explain away the hesitation of his own Front Bench to introduce the necessary legislation. I cannot see how any one can say that a Measure which is not to be introduced, so far as we can see, until October, 1948, can possibly be a Measure calculated to deal with the present economic crisis, which one would hope might be on the mend by that time. One would at least have thought that anything to deal with that, would now have been before us.
587 If my argument so far is right, why are we not taking the straightforward course of having the iron and steel Bill this year? Why are we asked to adopt this subterfuge in order to get it on the Statute Book at the same date as it would get on the Statute Book if introduced now on the footing that it is a Bill which another place will not accept? Of course, I have not seen the Bill yet. We do not know what it is. I doubt if the Government know what it is to be. Therefore, all this discussion must be hypothetical on the footing that the Bill will be one which creates a conflict. I must put my argument on that view because it is only on that hypothetical view that this Bill has been introduced at all. It is no good saying that there is a lack of time. It is quite clear that this year we have a great deal less to do than we had last year, and it is equally clear that, as the crisis goes on, we may well find ourselves next Session in a much worse position than we are this Session. Therefore it is no good saying that it would be impossible to squeeze that Bill into the present Parliamentary session.
If that is so, I can only think of three possible reasons why this roundabout procedure has to be adopted, and perhaps we shall be told which of these three reasons is the true one. The first would be that the Government do not know their own minds yet, that they have no plan at all. That may well be. The second would be that they have two competing plans and cannot make up their minds between them yet. That may also be. The third, which is also a possibility although I hope it is not true, is that this method is adopted in order to conceal from the country until the last possible moment what are their proposals, in order that the country may have as short a time as possible to realise the implications of those proposals.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider a fourth reason for this? Obviously the iron and steel trade is working much harder than ever before under the certain threat of nationalisation during this Parliament. It is, therefore, under this certain threat of nationalisation coming along next Session and the certainty that this Bill having gone through, the iron and steel industry will be nationalised by the end of 1951.
§ Mr. Reid
It is an odd theory that the threat of nationalisation improves the efficiency of an industry. But supposing it does, would it not be much more effective if we had the actual Bill here rather than a mere promise of it? If the promise of a Bill spurs on an industry, surely a Bill presented to them would spur it on twice as fast? Therefore, while dissenting from the hon. Gentleman's premises, I would have thought that his conclusion does not follow from such a premise. We must probe this matter because it is the heart of this Amendment. We have to find the reason why this extremely unusual form of legislation is being thrust upon the House. The Government claim that they have a mandate to do this—a very odd mandate, when it will have taken them three years to find out what their mandate really is.
If they had a mandate, I would have expected them to produce their proposals by this time and so avoid the necessity for this proposal. But what happens? The Government take three years to make up their minds about what is going into the Bill, and then the public have only a few months to make up theirs. Not even 12 months, because, as the Home Secretary well knows in present circumstances, it is not possible for the public to get a full view of the implications of a Bill until that Bill is in Committee. A Second Reading Debate is only inadequately reported—it is impossible to blame the newspapers for that—and it is only when you can get day after day reports of the implications coming out, not in the whole Press but in certain organs of the Press, and you can get persons specially interested buying the proceedings in Committee, that you can get a full view of what a Bill will really do.
I do not think the Home Secretary would dissent from that. That after all is the justification for the considerable time we spend on the Committee stage of important Bills—that you can not only see what the Bill says but what are its implications. Supposing there is a Second Reading in, say, October or November, its implications are not beginning to get out until the following spring. Yet under this proposal the Bill will be thrust into law in the following autumn. Six months maybe, and no more, are allowed to elapse after the proposals have been fully developed and before they have been thrust into law. 589 4.15 p.m.
Why is this necessary if the Government have any faith in their proposals? I should have thought it would have been much better, if they believe in their proposals, and believe that they will be rejected by another place, for them to be able to go to the country when the time comes and say, "Here is an admirable scheme which has been held up and is not yet law. Will you show in no uncertain way your view upon the question?" A Government which had any belief whatever in the country accepting their proposals, would have welcomed that possible, ground for appealing to the electorate. Why, therefore, is it necessary that we should make preparations for smuggling a Bill of first-class importance through this House and past public opinion in a minimum of time, particularly when it is a scheme about which the Government themselves seem to be doubtful, and a scheme on which they do not seem to be at all keen to face the electorate? For these two reasons, apparently, they are asking us to adopt this shortened procedure to deal with this Bill because that, I am quite sure from all that has been said throughout the controversy, particularly on the other side, is the state of affairs.
I have to assume for the purpose of the present argument, that ultimately there will be only one year's delay. When the appropriate time comes, the arguments against that will be developed and we shall have an opportunity, no doubt, of dividing on that point; but at the moment my argument must proceed on the footing that in normal times, it would be proper only to have one year's delay. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this is no time to introduce that shortened period for public consideration. Next year, when the period begins to run, it is obvious that the preoccupation of almost everybody in the country will be to find enough food to eat, and people will not be able to devote to the consideration of wide public issues that time and attention which is normally, fortunately, devoted to these matters by the informed public opinion of this country.
Yet it is in these difficult circumstances, and at a time when newspapers are short of newsprint, when it is almost impossible to get a book or a pamphlet published within any reasonable time—when, in other words, longer and not shorter time 590 should be given to the public for the consideration of crucial issues, that the Government are asking us to shorten the period for the proper consideration of legislation. The one year will run from now, if this Amendment is not accepted. I do not believe that these offending words could have been inserted in this Bill by anyone who truly believes in the working of democracy, if we take the meaning of democracy as commonly accepted in the Western world.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) seems to me to have put forward some entirely inconsequential and, indeed, contradictory arguments, and he has said hardly anything in support of the Amendment. He has again traversed in some detail some of the arguments we hard in the Second Reading Debate. I should think that, so far from this being a Measure which had not received adequate attention in the Press, it was one of the Measures which had received a great deal of attention in all parts of the Press during the last few months. May I remind hon. Members opposite that it was not only debated very fully on Second Reading, but was also discussed at great length in the Debate on the Address.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That was certainly not clear from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, and I do not think anyone on this side of the Committee understood that to be so. I thought we were considering the Parliament Bill, and that is what I propose to address a few remarks upon. The whole of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's observations proceeded on what I think to be the entirely false assumption that this Bill is introduced merely for some limited and specific purpose. Everyone would agree that the iron and steel measure is a matter which, when introduced next Session, will very conveniently fall within the ambit of the amended Parliament Act. But whether it does or does not, I think we should consider this 591 Bill on its own merits. It is irrelevant to suggest that we should only consider it and its so-called retrospective provisions on the footing that the steel Bill may be introduced next year.
This is a constitutional Measure, and one of the advantages of our flexible constitution is that we can deal with Measures relating to the Constitution in the same way as we deal with all other Measures involving legislation, great or small. Anyone would think that there was something sacrosanct about the Parliament Act of 1911, but it has been changed before. During the war and the previous war it was amended when the life of Parliament was lengthened.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
That is one thing the Parliament Act could not do—it could not vary the length of a Parliament each year.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman could have been following what I said. There is nothing sacrosanct about the Parliament Act. It can be changed, just like any other Act of Parliament and it was, in fact, amended——
§ Mr. Fletcher
I speak subject to correction, but I think I am right in saying that an Act was passed during the last Parliament in order to extend the life of that Parliament.
§ Sir C. Headlam
But that provision never came under the Parliament Act at all. It was expressly excluded.
§ Mr. Fletcher
May I remind the Committee that one of the provisions of the Parliament Act, 1911, was that there should be a newly elected House of Commons every five years—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]. I think it is right to say that prior to 1911 the life of Parliament was for seven years. One of the constitutional changes made by the Parliament Act was that henceforth there would be a new House of Commons elected every five years. That was a matter which gave certain rights to the electorate as distinct from the House of Commons. Although that was an essential feature of the Constitution as laid down 592 in 1911, that particular feature of the 1911 Act was itself changed more than once by Measures passed to extend the life of the House of Commons. It follows, therefore, that the provisions of the 1911 Act are just as susceptible to modification by a subsequent Act as any other Act of Parliament. I approach this matter on the footing that if it is desirable to make changes in our Constitution we should do so as we have done hitherto, by making them on their merits.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Will the hon. Member address himself to this point? Does he know of any precedent in a constitutional Measure for making any part of its operation retrospective? Is there any precedent which he has discovered for that?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am perfectly prepared to deal with as many points as I can, to the degree which interruptions of hon. Members opposite enable me, but I should think it would involve a good deal of historical research to enable me to answer that question, although I do not think that research would be unfruitful. I think there are plenty of precedents in the evolution of our Constitution for making changes when they are required to adapt our Constitution to the requirements of the time——
§ Mr. Fletcher
—whether retrospective or not. There is nothing inherently wrong about legislation being retrospective. Legislation may be criticised on the ground that it is retrospective if it produces hardship on an individual, and changes his rights or obligations; if it creates a crime which had not been a crime before. I could imagine a good many arguments being addressed on the ground that one ought not to give retrospective application to new criminal Measures. If, however, it is desirable to make a change in our Constitution, which the House and the country think is a good change to make on its merits, I should think that the sooner it is made the better.
This House by the Vote on Second Reading have decided that in 1947 we have arrived at a period when the suspensory power of the House of Lords ought to be reduced from two years to one year, because the whole tempo of modern life has changed to such a degree 593 that it is not safe to permit another place to have the power to thwart or delay carrying out the wishes of the people for more than one year. I doubt whether one year is not itself too long, but we have agreed that there must be a change and that the period of the suspensory veto must be reduced. If it is a good thing to do that, I should think the sooner the provision comes into operation, the better. I should not think that a priori there is any objection to making the provisions of this Bill retrospective on that ground.
§ Mr. Bowles
Surely the provision my hon. Friend is talking about need not be retrospective at all if this Bill goes through this year. It is only if the House of Lords hold it up and make it a two-year period that it would become retrospective. The Opposition cannot object to that.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I was coming to that, but I was trying to deal with what I thought to be the more inconsequential observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) will make his own contribution to the Debate in due course, and will develop the point he has just made, and point out that this matter may become entirely unnecessary.
As to whether there is anything wrong in legislation being retrospective, it might be criticised if it gave rise to uncertainty. Here, one of the advantages, I should have thought, to the country and to the community was that the definite provisions in the Bill, making it retrospective if necessary, helped towards certainty rather than uncertainty, because the effect of these words which the Amendment seeks to omit, is to make it quite clear that if this Bill is passed by this House, under the provisions of the Parliament Act, 1911, that is to say, if it is passed in three successive Sessions, then whether or not it is approved in another place, it will thereby, under the provisions of the Parliament Act, become law. I should have thought that it was equally desirable that the country should know that it would operate with regard to all Bills that are introduced hereafter, whether in this Session or the next Session. For those reasons, I hope that this Amendment will be resisted by the Committee.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I do not think we can rationally discuss the import and importance of this Amendment if we keep within the narrow limits suggested by the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher). It is quite impossible to discuss this provision that the Bill should be retrospective in its effect if we are not allowed to have in our minds, and to refer to the fact, that it is related to a future proposed Bill, namely, that for the nationalisation of iron and steel. Nor do I think that we can adequately assess the importance of this particular point about the retrospective character of the Bill unless we have in mind the other two features to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred, namely, the constitutional procedure generally in this Bill and its particular application to a particular case.
It is an extraordinary achievement that the Government, in a short Bill, which has only one Clause, apart from the technical Title Clause, should have managed to make in it so big a breach in three of our principal constitutional and Parliamentary traditions. The first is in regard to constitutional legislation. In countries which have a written constitution a different legislative procedure is provided for the amendment of the constitution—a two-thirds majority, etc. We have no such difference. We have exactly the same legal procedure, but it has always been the custom that in bringing in a Bill affecting the Constitution and the balance of the Constitution, special care, preparations and precautions should be taken. I will not weary the House by going through the whole of the long history of conferences, commissions and careful prior discussions and consideration before a constitutional Bill has been introduced. This Bill, as we know, is a complete breach in that tradition.
In the second place, it is against our normal principles, except for very cogent and decisive exceptional reasons, to make legislation retrospective. This is a retrospective Bill. In the third place, it is against our traditions to have particular legislation in the sense that a general Bill is introduced with the special purpose of applying to a particular named individual or to a known particular case. I believe it was once the case that this Parliament passed an Act for the purpose of boiling in oil a named individual.
§ Sir A. Salter
At any rate, it was boiling or burning. It is quite true that that may be quoted as a precedent, but it seems to me to be the kind of exception that proves the rule, because no constitutional writer has ever dealt with that aspect of our traditions without quoting that case as something which must, in all circumstances, be avoided. We thus have, in this short Bill of a few lines, a breach in the normal tradition as regards constitutional tradition, retrospective legislation and particular legislation. I suggest that, cumulatively, this is really an extraordinary achievement. The hon. Member for East Islington said that we ought to look at this Bill on its merits; why could we not devote ourselves simply to the question of whether this is a good or bad Bill from the point of view of the general change in the constitution? For the simple reason, that every hon. Member knows that the Government themselves have not done so; if they had been considering whether or not it was a good thing for the purpose of amending our constitution for general purposes, they would not have introduced this Bill in this form or at this moment.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman could deal with a point which has puzzled me a great deal? Lord Salisbury stated in the House of Lords that another place would not utilise its powers to prevent the putting on the Statute Book of any Measure for which the Government in power had an election mandate. Quite clearly, this Government have an election mandate for the nationalisation of steel. If Lord Salisbury and the Lords fulfil that promise, there will be no question whatever of their vetoing a Bill for the nationalisation of steel.
§ Sir A. Salter
That question had better be addressed to someone who represents the party of which Lord Salisbury is the representative in another place. I am dealing with this Bill in the form in which it is now presented to us, and in the circumstances in which it is presented to us in the House of Commons. I suggest that, introduced as it is, in the form in 596 which it is, and in the circumstances in which it has been introduced, it does, in its few lines, constitute a breach in these three important and fundamental traditions in our constitutional and Parliamentary procedure.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
The right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid), in moving the Amendment, referred to what he thought was the reason for the introduction of the Bill. He said it was concerned only with the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. It is obvious that if this provision to make it retrospective had not been put in, the Government could not be certain that they would, within the lifetime of this Parliament, be able to make effective a Bill for the nationalisation of iron and steel. Therefore, the motive of the Opposition in moving this Amendment is quite clearly to take every possible opportunity to "dish" the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. We intend to get that Measure through. We have a mandate from the electors to do it, and this is the last possible Session in which the Government can bring in any Bill to amend the Parliament Act so as to have any useful results so far as our electoral programme is concerned. As this is the first time I have spoken on this Bill, I should like to congratulate the. Government on bringing in the Bill.
The Prime Minister gave a promise early in this Session that this Government were to nationalise iron and steel before this Parliament ended. Quite clearly that had a salutary effect on the industry, for the reason which I tried to give a few minutes ago. Here we have an industry which probably—I do not say this unkindly—is trying to avoid nationalisation by putting itself into the most efficient condition it can, and trying to create an atmosphere, so that if we had to go to the country on the question of the nationalisation of steel at the next election it could be said that it was not so urgent. I am quite convinced that this is the right time for this Bill to be got through.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
Since this great effort which the steel industry has made must have been contributed to tremendously by the workers themselves, does the hon. Gentleman put before the Committee the idea that the 597 workers in the steel industry are working hard to try to prevent nationalisation? I believe that they are.
§ Mr. Bowles
No, I do not. I certainly think that the management are pulling more weight than ever before in the hope that, if this industry is not nationalised in this Parliament, they might persuade hon. Members at the next election that there was not quite such a case for it. I disagree somewhat with my right hon. Friend the Lord President. I do not want to nationalise industries because they are inefficient or efficient. I believe in the nationalisation——
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Robert Young)
The hon. Member is discussing nationalisation. That is not in the Bill. We are discussing retrospective action.
§ Mr. Bowles
This will only be retrospective if the House of Lords uses the whole of the two years allowed to it under the Parliament Act of 1911. If it lets this Bill go through, as it has let every other Bill go through in the last two years, then there can be no complaint about this being retrospective. There was a suggestion in the speech of the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) that never had he known, in any of our legislation, reference to a Bill that might be passed later. I have made a study of the Local Government Bill which is to come into force on 1st April, 1948. The senior Burgess will find there that there is provision for another Bill which has been produced since that was introduced, namely the National Assistance Bill. The provisions transfer from the local authorities to the National Assistance Board certain liabilities which, up to 1st April, 1948, will fall upon the local authorities.
§ Sir A. Salter
I carefully did not say that there was no precedent for retrospective legislation. I said that I did not think there was precedent for retrospective legislation of a kind which affected the balance of the Constitution. My argument was in very definite relation to my first point. Parliament has always been particularly careful in the case of constitutional legislation.
§ Mr. Bowles
The remedy is in the hands of the Opposition. They need not hold up the passing of this Bill, and then there will be no retrospective action at all. In 598 connection with our social services, the Government have introduced two Bills in this Session. One is the Local Government Bill which arises because of various things, such as the beginning of the National Health Service in July. The other is the National Assistance Bill. These Bills cannot all be introduced on the same day. There is nothing wrong in a Bill being introduced which refers to the likelihood of another Bill being passed in this Session, and the economic and financial effects of that new Bill being legislated for in the Bill that will go through Parliament before the other to which it refers.
I think that this Amendment is a clever move on the part of the Opposition, but I do not think that it has fooled any of my hon. Friends on his side of the Committee. We want this provision because we want the steel Bill at the earliest possible moment in this Session. Any subsequent legislation to be passed in this Session will go through under the new Parliament Bill.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I am not quite clear whether we are debating the first Amendment only or also something else at the same time. As a result of the Division, I missed the first half minute or so of the proceedings.
§ 4.45 P.m.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
Might I ask your guidance, on that, Sir Robert? There is the other Amendment to line 20—to leave out the proviso—which raises exactly the same point, of what we have broadly described as the retroactive provisions of the Bill. I think everyone who has spoken, although they would have been in Order on either Amendment, has really meant to make a speech on the question of the retroactive provision. I should have thought that it would have been convenient to have had a general discussion and then for the Vote to be taken as you decide.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee to do what is suggested. I have no objection to a general Debate on the two Amendments.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am very much obliged. I apologise. It really was not my fault that I could not get back in time. That being so, I hope I may begin by making a few observations upon the speeches that have been made from the other side of the Committee, and then I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I say something on what seems to me to be the great matter involved. First of all, the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) told us that this Bill had had a great deal of attention in the Press. That seems to show how rapidly ones standards go down hill. If he and I stopped the first 100 people that we could meet "in and out the Eagle," or somewhere else in Islington, I wonder how many of them would have heard of this Bill?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
If the hon. Gentleman can believe that, he really can believe anything. I leave the point.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
He also objected to what he called gratuitous assumptions that there is some specific occasion for this Bill. I think it fair to say that there is always a specific occasion for any suggested change of the Constitution, and I think it perfectly clear from the Second Reading Debate that that was generally recognised to be so in this case. Then he told us that there was nothing sacrosanct about the 1911 Act, because it had been amended during the war. But it was amended in one particular only and that is the particular about which I think I am right in saying there has only been legislation in time of extreme national danger. It was only at the time of the 1715 Rebellion and threatened invasion, at the time of the 1914 war and at the time of the last war, that Parliament has done these things which, logically, are an extreme and even excessive stretch of Parliamentary power—that is to say, that Parliament has lengthened its own life. The Parliament Act was not amended in the 1939 war, only technically it was in spite of the maximum Parliamentary duration as then fixed in the 1911 Act.
600 Then we were told by him that the retrospective effect in the Bill made for more certainty. That, surely, is the most dangerous possible doctrine, especially from a lawyer. Surely, the most certainty in everything to do with Statute law must always come from the Statute law being what it is to be only from the exact moment at which the process of making the Statute is completed, or some later moment then and there announced. We do not always get that degree of certainty, I agree; but that, surely, must be the degree of certainty which everybody, particularly every lawyer, desires in passing a Bill.
It really will not do for the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) to tell us that this Bill will be retrospective only if the action of another place makes it so. It has some slight element of retrospection even without that. In any case, it really is not fair to say to the other place "You have got to treat as being the Statute law as from the day before this Session began, something which was not then Statute law, or else we shall retrospectively make it the Statute law as from that date, and say that it was your fault." That, clearly, is a disingenuous argument. I do not suggest that the hon. Gentleman is being consciously dishonest in the matter, but I do not think that any impartial person can doubt but that is a disingenuous argument.
Now I want to come to what seems to be the main and great matter contained in these Amendments. I do so without any very great optimism but I do beg the Home Secretary to allow the argument—if I can make it—to impinge on his mind without wholly closing that mind. This is the point: The great distinction between States, is not what nowadays people are apt to call "Fascist" versus democratic; nowadays the word "Fascist" is a very loose description; none of us quite know what "Fascist" means, it has changed in all sorts of ways and senses; and "democratic" is also used roughly and loosely. In our history nobody would pretend that England was democratic before say 1906, or 1880, or about that time. Yet nobody can doubt that there was law and liberty, that there were things of great value and importance which we owed to our long constitutional development long before there was democracy.
601 The true distinction, the dichotomy if I may use a word recently introduced by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in this matter is between constitutionalism on the one hand and arbitrariness on the other. That is what matters, not so much whether you are governed by a good constitution, or even whether you are self-governed, but whether you are governed by a constitution or by arbitrariness. That is the great distinction. That is the great question now before the world. We have tended to assume, with the poet Tennyson—though I do not quite use the word "constitutionalism"—that it has gone on getting bigger and bigger and bigger just as biology has gone on getting better and better and better in making its Way up from the amœba to the Home Secretary. In our generation we know it is pot sufficient to make those assumptions any longer. We do not know what the right hon. Gentleman may evolve into in the course of another eon or two and we do not know whether constitutional government is to survive in this world for a generation.
That is the first proposition which I ask hon. Gentlemen to believe. The second is this: that there is no other country in the world which in that dichotomy is on the constitutional side, there is no one other country in the world which would not regard what is here being done as grossly and intolerably unconstitutional. You could not possibly persuade any American, even when you had made him understand the difference between the so-called fixed constitution of his own country and the so-called flexible constitution of our own, that in any sense of the word "constitutional" it could be called constitutional to alter the rules of the constitution as from some date before the procedure of making the alteration had been completed. I do not believe for one moment that you could persuade any American or any citizen of states which have experience of constitutional Government of the truth of that proposition.
Further, I want to say, with great diffidence, that I am by way of being a sort of expert on constitutional history; that is to say I have been paid for lecturing about it for a great many years. So I always make statements, especially general statements on constitutional sub- 602 jects, with the utmost diffidence, for I have found that when I have not looked up the books just before, I have often been proved wrong later, and that even when I have made some research, I have often been proved afterwards not to have been right. But I think I am on a safe point now when I say that the boast of the hon. Member below the Gangway that he had not looked up precedents but was sure that there were bundles of precedents for constitutional legislation with retrospective effect, is mistaken.
§ Sir A. Salter
May I reassure my hon. Friend on this point? I was a professor on the same subject for years and I can confirm what he says, that the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) would not find his search fruitful.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am glad to have my pretensions supported by real learning. If the hon. Member opposite finds anything like what he thinks could be found, I would make this bet—if it were in Order—that it would prove to be a Bill which at the time was thought to be wholly declaratory. There have been Bills like the Bill making it plain that a Queen Regnant has the same rights and authority as a King, where it was enacted that that was so and always had been so. But that was declaratory and not retrospective. Apart from any ambiguities of that sort however, I am confident that there are no precedents for this at all. I am confident of this also: that none of our ancestors would have thought this Bill constitutional until, relatively speaking, the day before yesterday. I will go further. I believe that all our ancestors certainly down to the 28th century, and most of them during the 18th century would have taken it for granted that this Bill was ultra vires and had or would have been argued to have had no force.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member but until now he has been dealing largely with Second Reading points.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I will not continue that point of course Sir Robert, but with respect, this general argument about the constitutional importance of retrospectivity, if that is the word, has been the burden, almost the main burden of every speech which has been made so far. All I am trying to show is that all experience 603 outside this country and inside is in favour of these Amendments and none of it against these Amendments.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
Is the hon. Member now suggesting that a court of law in any circumstances has power to declare an Act of Parliament ultra vires?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I did not say anything of the sort. I said "had or would have been thought to have had." [Laughter.] When medical Gentlemen opposite laugh they betray their ignorance of the matter as much as I should betray my ignorance of some clinical language they were using if I laughed at them. The judges would have said, "This will not work"——
§ Mr. Blackburn
Not one single judicial decision has established the doctrine to which the hon. Member just referred. The doctrine was that any law which contravened the moral law, that is, the jus naturale or jus gentium, might be ruled ultra vires. There was never any suggestion that retrospection might, in itself, become invalid.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I should be out of Order if I examined that thesis. But I do not accept it at all. I still think that the point I was putting is nearer to accuracy than the one which has been suggested from the other side of the Committee. If these things are anything like true, then Members opposite really ought to consider that they ought not to say to people on this side, "All you are thinking of is defending iron and steel." That has been said at least once today. It is rare to take a strong view about a constitutional question purely for the sake of that question itself. Perhaps only those take a strong view in that way who are like myself more or less professional pedants in the matter. The rest of the world is interested almost always in constitutional questions only because of some immediate effect on current questions.
I beg the Home Secretary who in this matter is I know not altogether as the rest of the world, who has one foot on my side of the fence in that he is interested in the Constitution for its own sake, to consider whether at this point in world history it is not a rather dangerous thing that we should do something which would have been thought in our history until, historically speaking, the day before yesterday, to have been grossly unconstitutional 604 and which I do not believe any constitutionally minded foreigner could be persuaded to accept as constitutional. I ask him for further consideration whether it really is right to do this in order to get some small political advantage. After all, if it is true, as has been assumed by the other side in varying ways, that what really matters is to get an iron and steel Bill through, that could have been done by introducing an iron and steel Bill on the date on which this Bill was introduced.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
It might be as well at this stage if I intervened to give some idea of the views of the Government upon the argument that has been addressed to the Committee so far, but not with any idea that we are anxious to come to a decision on the matter at the moment. Several hon. Members have addressed the Committee, and it is only right that the Government should give some indication of their views. I hope the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) will not think that I have one leg on his side of the fence more than this, that I have, as I hope every Member of the Committee has, an interest in constitutional questions. I dissent from nearly everything that he said, and I was confirmed in that dissent when I found that it was confirmed so readily by the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter).
§ Sir A. Salter
Does the Home Secretary dissent from the only point, the limited and specific point on which, whether or not I agree with him on other matters, I expressed agreement with the senior Burgess for Cambridge University? Does the Home Secretary differ from me on that point, namely, that there are no precedents for retrospective legislation on constitutional Bills in this country?
§ Mr. Ede
If the right hon. Gentleman will give me time I will deal with the question of precedent and the extent to which the House is bound always to look for a precedent before it does the thing it knows to be right. The hon. Gentleman said that we could not persuade Americans about this matter, but we are not set the task of persuading Americans. Such conversations as I have had with citizens of the United States on this kind 605 of issue have usually been wound up by such citizens deploring the fact that they did not live under a Constitution as flexible as ours. I had the opportunity of meeting a good many of these gentlemen when I was at the Board of Education and when we were engaged in the task of erecting the body that is now known as U.N.E.S.C.O. I think that, during those discussions, without exception they expressed their dread of what might happen in their country after the war, bound as they were, particularly in foreign affairs, by the peculiar written and fixed Constitution under which they work.
We are not out to persuade Americans that the Bill is sound. Our task is the far easier one of persuading people in this country that this is an appropriate Amendment to make in our Constitution. The right hon. Gentleman said that when this country had previously contemplated a constitutional change, it had gone through certain processes. He suggested that the Bill ought to have been preceded by conferences. I assume he meant the kind of conference that was held prior to the passing of the Parliament Act, 1911.
§ Mr. Ede
Let us recognise that both of those conferences were completely futile. The 1910 Conference used up a great part of the year 1910. A second General Election took place. The Parliament Bill was introduced. It was not agreed, as is quite evident to anyone who recollects the events of that time. Nothing was agreed at that time. The Bryce Committee met and made its recommendations about a new House of Lords, but nobody has taken any action on them in the time in between, although hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been in a position to implement the recommendations at any tune during nearly 20 years which have elapsed since the Committee reported. We did not think that precedents such as that were desirable ones for us to follow.
We have to face a practical issue and we have endeavoured to face it in this Measure. I, like the hon. Gentleman opposite, could not get into the Chamber for a couple of minutes at the beginning of the Debate because I thought the Opposition were, for once, going to divide upon the suspension of the Rule governing our hours. I was in the middle of the 606 queue in the Lobby and I did not get back until the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) was well launched into his speech. It is not fair to say that this side of the Committee attacked the other side by alleging that they oppose the Bill because they want to stop an iron and steel Bill going through. The right hon. and learned Gentleman himself devoted the greater part of his speech to examining the Bill in the light of the situation relating to iron and steel.
Therefore, although the senior Burgess for Cambridge University may not think it is much of an answer, we did not start on those lines at any rate. It may have been a wrong line for us to follow, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman subjected us to a very severe temptation in the line which he took. The Bill, as I said on the Second Reading, is required because we think its proposals represent the maximum powers that should be left to any second Chamber in this country. The subject would have been dealt with in the lifetime of this Parliament, had there been an iron and steel Bill or not. It is clear that no Government of the Left could contemplate in modern circumstances having to face a second Chamber, no matter what its constitution, armed with the powers that were left to another place by the Parliament Act, 1911.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
On a point of Order, Sir Robert. I submit that the right hon. Gentleman is not speaking to the Amendment. For the last five minutes he has been speaking on a general, Second Reading point as to the desirability of limiting the powers of the House of Lords. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that I do not want to be offensive, but if he enlarges the sphere of the Debate, he will take it away from the point of our Amendment, and I feel bound to ask you to rule on this point.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
There has been a tendency for speeches to take on the character of a Second Reading Debate. I sincerely hope that Members will resist the temptation to wander too far from the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ede
I do not think that I have so far done other than reply to points that have been raised on the other side. I certainly do not want to enlarge the scope 607 of the Debate. I do not think it is fair to describe the proposals in the Bill as retrospective. No Measure which has so far been sent to another place during the lifetime of this Parliament can come within the purview of this Measure. They have, sometimes after attempts at amendment to which they have attached importance, assented to all the Measures which have been sent up to them, but we have no guarantee that they will continue that line of conduct. They have not, so far, had big attendances, and difficulties arise when certain people not easily recognisable turn up to take part in the discussions and to vote, and, therefore, we may be faced at any time from now onwards with the position that a Measure to which this House attaches great importance and which it has sent up there is either, in the old word, "mangled," or is refused a passage during the Session in which it is sent up.
This is the last Session of this Parliament in which we can make any amendment with certainty of that position, and that is why we have introduced this Bill. Instead of its being retrospective, I should have thought that the correct description would have been to say that any Bill that may be brought within the Parliament Act as amended will be subjected to parallel action of the kind we are taking with regard to the Parliament Act, and both Houses of Parliament and the country will know from this time forward that, on the assumption which we are entitled to make, that this Parliament will last until some time in 1950, any Measure introduced into this House and passed by it up to some point in the middle of 1949 will become the law of the land if this House continues to favour it. That is not retrospective action, but it is giving a clear indication to both Houses and to the country of what our position in this matter really is, and what the constitutional position will be before this Parliament ends.
I do not want to go into the suggestions made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to what has happened about an iron and steel Bill. He thought there were three things. First, the Government had not made up their minds; secondly, they had got so far towards making up their minds about two different plans and could not possibly decide which of the two it should be; 608 or, thirdly, that they meant to have a Bill pushed through rapidly so that the country would not know anything about it. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman not to believe everything he sees on the tape on the morning after the Cabinet has risen, because I go there to find out all the things that we have not discussed. I would not like, under pledge of Cabinet secrecy, to go further than that as to the reliability of that information.
The Government are pledged to deal with iron and steel, and they regard it as essential that iron and steel should be dealt with in the lifetime of this Parliament. They are determined not to be thwarted in that direction by allowing the time to lapse beyond which these powers to control the future activities of the House of Lords can be made effective. We think that 12 months is a sufficient time for the House of Lords to be able to delay our legislation. We think that that should be made effective with regard to all Bills which have been introduced or will be introduced as from the beginning of this Session, and, therefore, we ask the House to reject this Amendment, so as to enable the decisions that I have just announced to be made effective within the lifetime of this Parliament.
§ Sir A. Salter
The right hon. Gentleman indicated that he had precedents, and added that, if my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) and I agreed on any point, we were almost certain to be wrong. The only point on which we did express agreement was in disagreement with the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) on this point—that there were precedents for retrospective constitutional legislation.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I have made no claim that there is any precedent. I do not regard the first Socialist Government with a majority as being bound to look for precedents for what it wants to do, and when I am told, as I think I was by the hon. Member for Cambridge University, what our ancestors would think of this Bill constitutionally, I am left completely unmoved, because I take the view which Macaulay expressed at the time of the passing of the first great Reform Bill, that our ancestors were wiser in their generation than we are, inasmuch as they legislated for their times. We are legislating 609 for our times, and one of the glories of this House is that it is not so bound by a written Constitution, other than the Parliament Act, that it is compelled to look for a precedent in order to justify itself in departing from the folly of its ancestors.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
The right hon. Gentleman has just indulged in what he will perhaps allow me to describe as a most uncharacteristic evasion of the real point in this Amendment, and has sought to lead us on to the general argument for the Bill which we heard from him on Second Reading. Our point is that this Amendment raises quite sharply a true Committee point of great importance, which cannot be laughed off by a repetition of a Second Reading speech, and I want to deal with it in its two compartments—first, the broad constitutional position, and, secondly, its relation to what I may call fellow travellers among the Government's Bills for the next year or two.
The right hon. Gentleman agrees to this extent, that this makes a change in the Constitution, and he also agrees, despite his tendentious flourish of trumpets, that ordinary practice and precedent, so far as it can be discovered, is that Bills which make a change in the Constitution take effect from the date on which they are passed. Our point is this. It is quite true that, with an omnipotent Legislature such as ours, the citizen takes his chance and must always conduct his life and business bearing in mind the chance of a change as to his future. He should not have to take the risk of what is now the fixed and determined legal basis of his personal actions being destroyed by retroactive future proposals. That is a constitutional concept which the right hon. Gentleman need not fear as being reactionary or Right Wing. It is a constitutional concept which democracies, just as every other form of State, have valued as giving certainty to the present action of their citizens of all classes and of all types.
The right hon. Gentleman, even for his own argument, need not be so contemptuous of the working of the British Constitution. One thing, which I think that even he might approach with some feeling of gratitude, is that it has grown through change and has been adapted 610 through the action of conciliatory minds. A great deal of the happiness and improvement of the position of this country have been due to that constitutional action. Therefore, when he brushes aside, with unusual brusquerie, any suggestions about the common practice of consultation before political change, I think he might realise that our constitutional position has not only improved, but has improved without serious difficulty, through the use of incidents being formed into precedents in the moulding of the unwritten Constitution which we have.
All that we are asking by this Amendment is not even to go as far as the ordinary decencies of constitutional change, that is, consultation. We are only suggesting that it is wise to use and apply the existing conditions, the existing law, and to use the time which existing law lays down as being proper for a novel and new conception to be introduced. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman appreciates that he has only in mind—and only as much in mind as the speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends have driven into his mind—something like the iron and steel Bill. Under this provision, if another of the kaleidoscopic changes were to take place in the opinions of the Front Bench opposite, and if, for example, the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President were to resume the views which he held 10 years ago and suggest that British Colonial possessions should be handed to an international authority, and, for that purpose, bring in a new Statute of Westminster affecting British Colonies, that could be dealt with under this Bill and be tacked on and in the pocket of the present Bill.
Therefore, when we begin, on constitutional matters of that kind, not only to ignore the decencies and conciliations which have hitherto taken place before constitutional changes were made, but to ignore the basis of existing law and existing fact as the ground of our action, we are running a grave risk of something which may react, as I shall endeavour to show, far beyond the merely party or economic differences which separate us in this Chamber at the present time.
The other point on which the right hon. Gentleman has totally failed to shake me is that the real purpose of this Bill is not what my right hon. Friend stated, and, in fact, that the Title could far more 611 appositely be "Steel Nationalisation (Facilitation) Bill." I do not want to resume the good-humoured exchange which I had with the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President about the famous paragraph in the "New Statesman," because I was so pleased with the right hon. Gentleman's response, that he had no greater connection with the "New Statesman" than with the "Recorder," that I should like to keep that framed in my mind, unblemished by any alteration or change.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
We are both speaking from memory, but I do not want the right hon. and learned Gentleman unwittingly to get me into trouble. My recollection is that I said I had no greater responsibility for the "New Statesman" than for the "Recorder." That is true.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am always gathering something. I shall now have to consider the subtle difference between responsibility and connection. I will keep it; it will come in useful at some time. The right hon. Gentleman and I are not, I hope, having our last exchange across this Table.
As I say, I had dealt with that point, but we on this side of the Committee must take it as our hypothesis that the present Bill is going to take two years to pass into law. It is no good hon. Members trying to score a debating point by saying, "Well, that need not happen." That is the whole basis; the conditional Clause which we are discussing at the moment introduces provisions. Therefore, to discuss it on any other basis would be wrong, and would ignore what is in the Bill.
I want hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to appreciate our point. The purpose of any delaying power in a Second Chamber is to allow public opinion to crystallise on the Bill. I do not think there was any dispute about that from any part of the House during the Second Reading Debate. When the Bill which is now before the Committee is so intimately connected with the steel nationalisation Bill that the steel Bill is carried in the pocket of this very proviso, it is impossible for the public of this country to form an opinion and 612 let it crystallise until they know what is in the Bill for the nationalisation of steel.
What we are discussing at the moment is whether or not we should make a pocket to carry the steel nationalisation Bill through at an earlier date. That is what this provision is for, and that is what it does. As I have said, we cannot crystallise public opinion as to whether the provision is right until we know something about the proposals with regard to the nationalisation of iron and steel. The public are not going to get these proposals for another year, so that, during that time, they cannot crystallise or form their judgment on this Bill. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot put the matter, as they so often do, on what one might term the "crisis" argument, because, if there were any short-term reason for the nationalisation of iron and steel, then the Bill for that purpose would be introduced now.
It seems to me to be the acme of absurdity that a Government who themselves require three years to allow their own views and opinions, and the divisions between Members of the Cabinet, to crystallise—and, they hope, to subside—on the matter of iron and steel, should expect the general public of this country to be able to form and crystallise its opinion in six months.
§ Mr. Bowles
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will read his own Amendment he will see that it says:with regard to any Bill introduced after the passing of this Act.He has already told the Committee that this Bill will not become an Act for at least two years because he knows that the other place will oppose it. Is he, therefore, now saying to the Committee and to the country that we in this Parliament will never be able, unless we win on this particular Clause, to nationalise steel during the lifetime of this Parliament?
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Member has made one complete misstatement. I hope he will pay attention to it. I did not say that the House of Lords was going to throw out this Bill. I particularly said that we must approach this Clause on the hypothesis that the Bill will take two years to pass. I know the hon. Gentleman would not want to misquote me and it is rather unfortunate 613 if what he said is quoted as coming from me, without my reply.
§ Mr. Bowles
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will accept for the sake of his argument that this Bill will not become an Act until 1949?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
That is part of my argument. I know the hon. Gentleman appreciates the point, and I will be very glad to hear his answer to it. Assume that the iron and steel Bill is introduced in November, 1948—I take it the hon. Gentleman is with me as far as that—that Bill could not possibly get through the Committee stage, with a reasonable discussion, before about Easter, 1949. It could not get through the Report and Third Reading until about May, 1949. That means that a member of the public is going to get six months in which to form his opinion and let that opinion crystalise on the final form of an iron and steel Bill, if this procedure is adopted.
The point I was making—and whether the hon. Gentleman agrees or not it is surely a fair point—is that if it takes His Majesty's Government three years to come to a conclusion as to whether they are going to nationalise iron and steel, and what form it should take, it is a little hard to change the Constitution so that ordinary people who have not the advantages of the Government should have only six months in which to crystallise their opinion.
§ Mr. Bowles
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will answer this question. Obviously, he does admit that this will not become the Parliament Act until 1949. Any steel nationalisation Bill introduced, as he suggested, in November, 1948—and he has just told us about the six months—will obviously not go through under this Amendment of his, because it will not have been a Bill introduced after the passing of the Act of 1949. Therefore, the Government are not going to be expected to go through all the foolery of getting the Bill discussed when they know it is not going through. They would have to wait until the next Session started in 1949 to pass a steel nationalisation Bill, with the General Election in 1950. That is the whole motive of the Opposition.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Gentleman has this time delivered himself into 614 our hands in spite of his astuteness, which is a byword in so many circles. He has forgotten the vital provision of the Parliament Act, 1911, that it operates after a General Election.
§ Mr. Bowles rose——
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am not going to give way. I am going to follow up the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman has lifted his guard and must take what is coming. Let us face the position to which the hon. Gentleman has exposed himself. If the Bill was introduced, as I put it in the hypothesis, in November, 1948, then it would come for a Third Reading in the House about May or June, 1949. Continuing the hypothesis that my Amendment operates and that Bill is, therefore, not carried in the pocket of this Bill, we have the position that there will be a General Election by the summer of 1950. There are only two alternatives. One is that the hon. Gentleman and his party do not want this Bill to be submitted to the electorate at a General Election.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, that follows as clearly as night follows the day. The Bill is introduced—and that is inherent in the hon. Gentleman's argument—in the expectation of losing the next General Election.
§ Mr. Bowles rose——
§ Mr. Bowles rose——
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
No, I must follow the argument out. The hon. Gentleman can make another speech, he is not restricted. It is correct constitutional practice and also common sense, that if the Government, in the belief that they are going to lose the next General Election—and that is the only explanation of this offered by the Parliament Act—seize the opportunity to pass legislation when they know the country is against it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course it is—that follows from the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Government are going to lose the next General Election—it is a false concept of democracy. I put it further—
§ Mr. Bowles rose——
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
No, the hon. Gentleman must learn to take an argu- 615 ment when it is put to him. He put this opinion and I am trying to answer it. The hon. Gentleman must learn to take it when it comes from the other side.
The Home Secretary rather deprecated going into the constitutional niceties of the matter. I do put this point to him because I am sure it is one he must have considered, that, taking it by and large with very few exceptions—this is not a party point but a recollection of history as I understand the matter—there have been very few occasions where a change has been from Left to Right, or Right to Left, when an incoming Government has immediately indulged in repealing the legislation of their predecessors, however strongly they have opposed them, or have been against them at the time. That, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree, is a fact. It is a very helpful fact, I suggest, but I do not ask to carry the hon. Gentlemen opposite with me. The basis of that has been that every Government, so far, has accepted it as a rule that they should not permit legislation unless they are satisfied that they are supported by Parliamentary opinion. Here we have—and the hon. Gentleman must face this point—the provision of the Parliamentary Act, 1911, that it operates whether a General Election comes into existence or not. In that case if the Government think that they are going to lose the General Election, they should not introduce the iron and steel Bill at all, not only according to constitutional practice, but according to every canon of decency and order. Therefore, we say that on the general constitutional position, we ought to keep the certainty which is given by the basic and determined use of existing law.
On the practical point—that is, of carrying another Bill alongside it—this Clause has two inevitable effects; first, it will prevent public opinion from having an apportunity to crystallise, even to the extent of one-sixth of the opportunity which the Government have found necessary before their own opinion could be formed; and, secondly, it is changing that salutary constitutional principle that one does not introduce legislation when one is doubtful whether one can face the electorate on that legislation. For those reasons, I ask the House to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Bowles
I had not forgotten the provision in the Parliament Act, 1911, which says that a General Election can take place during the period of those two years. What I wish to say is that, in view of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, I presume that he now maintains that we cannot pass the steel nationalisation Bill without having a General Election. Is that so?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Perhaps you will allow me to reply, Major Milner, because I do not wish to be discourteous, although I do not want to detain the Committee. On the hypothesis which we have been discussing, that is so. I have dealt with the point throughout on the hypothesis of this Clause.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
When the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) said that my hon. Friend's guard was down, he did not take very good advantage of the fact. He seemed to be flailing around helplessly. He was driven back to the old charge that we had designed this Bill in order to be able to dodge a General Election which we feared. The situation is the very opposite. As we see the development of the work which we have done and the Measures which we have put on the Statute Book, and remember the legislation which we propose to introduce in the next two years, it is obvious that the likelihood of our victory at the next General Election is as great as that of hon. Members opposite.
I wish to devote my remarks to the repeated charge which has been made by hon. Members opposite, including the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). The assumption has been that the Government's only reason in introducing this Bill is to enable them to pass legislation relating to the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. A much more important argument is that the supporters of the Governmnet are very keen on this Measure. I speak regularly once, and often twice a week, in my constituency, and there is never a meeting at which some reference is not made to the necessity for the Labour Government to go forward with legislation dealing with the House of Lords.
I can well understand hon. Members who come from the universities stating that the people in the country are not aware of what is involved. For example, 617 the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) has little contact with me, although I am one of his presumed supporters. I assure such hon. Members that the very opposite is the case in the average constituency represented by hon. Members on these benches. I am certain that the mass of the people such as those whom we on these benches represent feel that there should not be left in the hands of a Second Chamber the right to impede any legislation—not only iron and steel legislation—which the Labour Government, duly authorised by their mandate, propose to introduce and place on the Statute Book. The legislation which is foreshadowed in the King's Speech has the complete approval of the masses of the people who have sent us here to represent them. I am glad the Government are persisting in following these lines, and I am certain that this Amendment ought to be rejected.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I am sorry if I have been neglectful of one of my constituents in the hon. Member for Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson). I assure him, however, that although he is a constituent with whom I seldom agree, he is one to whom I am always pleased to listen with attention and respect.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am not as optimistic as that. I am bound to say that the hon. Member has not devoted himself at all to the subject of the Amendment. I am going to resist all the temptations—and the Home Secretary gave me many—to indulge in a Second Reading speech, and I can promise brevity because I shall confine myself virtually to one point. It is simply what I believe to be the constitutional and legal impropriety of this retrospective provision. We obtained from the Home Secretary, who has all the advantages of research by the very able lawyers who advise him, the admission that there is no precedent whatsoever for a retrospective provision of this sort in a constitutional Measure. He then went on to make a very extraordinary statement. He said that, in his view, this Measure was not retrospective. I wonder whether he read the words which we are proposing to omit. After the opening words of the Bill, 618The Parliament Act, 1911, shall have effect,these words appear:and shall be deemed to have had effect from the beginning of the session in which the Bill for this Act originated (save as regards that Bill itself).…Anything more obviously retrospective on the face of the Statute cannot be imagined. It is in the most express words retrospective, and there is admittedly no precedent.
I invite the attention at least of all the lawyers present to some very significant words. Very often, by seeing unusual words in a Clause, one can realise how unusual is the thing that is being done. I wonder how many hon. Members can recall any Act of Parliament containing the words, "The Bill for this Act originated …" The very rarity, and almost unexampled rarity, of those words in a Statute is a sign of how unusual is the thing which we are doing. I do not say that there is no precedent, because I have found one in this very year. In the Wellington Museum Act, 1947, these words are found in Section 8 (2). I mention it only as a precedent for the use of these words. That Act dealt with the transfer of Apsley House, and the Section which contains the precedent for the words we are now considering provides that certain expenses connected with the preparation of "the Bill for this Act" shall be repaid to the Duke of Wellington.
I admit that lawyers, though they will not find in any constitutional Measure a precedent for a retrospective Clause of this kind, may be able to find in various Acts of Parliament precedents for saying that something shall be the state of the law as from a stated date, for example, the date when the Bill was introduced. That is found. In all such cases, however, what is to be achieved by the retrospective Section is absolutely clear on the face of the document, and that makes a really great difference. What my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) said is true, and what is achieved here is a pocket for the carrying of the iron and steel Bill; but anything may be done under the provision.
1 am not going to say anything more about the iron and steel Bill, except as regards one point made by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who asked, Did we admit that the iron and 619 steel Bill could not be put on the Statute Book in this Parliament if this Amendment were carried. I admit nothing of the kind. The iron and steel Bill certainly could be carried in this Parliament if the Government really believed in it and introduced it, instead of introducing this Bill; and if they introduced it during this Session. I do not, however, wish to enlarge on the iron and steel Bill because enough has been said on that on both sides. I will, however, give one further example of what can be done by this provision to which we are objecting. I think I am right in this, and I think that the hon. and learned Solicitor-General will not differ from me on the matter of law. I think that under this retrospective provision a further amendment of the period allowed by this Bill, when it becomes an Act, could be achieved; that the one year to which the period of delay is being reduced could be further
§ reduced under this retroactive Clause to some nugatory period—to, say, two days. I think that that would be legally possible. I give that as an example of what could be achieved. I am not saying that that is the intention of the Lord President or of any Member of the Government.
§ I would recapitulate by making these three points. On the face of the document the Bill contains this plainly retroactive provision. Secondly, in a constitutional Measure, there is no precedent throughout our history for such a thing being done. That has been admitted by the Home Secretary. Thirdly, what can be achieved under this objectionable provision cannot be ascertained by looking at the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 271; Noes, 150.623
|Division No. 40.]||AYES.||[5.51 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Collins, V. J.||Goodrich, H. E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Gordon-Walker, P C.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Comyns, Dr. L.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Grey, C. F.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Grierson, E.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Corlett, Dr. J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Crawley, A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Crossman, R. H. S||Guy, W. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Daines, P.||Hale, Leslie|
|Ayles, W. H||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hardy, E A.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Harrison, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Haworth, J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Barton, C.||Deer, G.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Battley, J. R.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Herbison, Miss M|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Delargy, H. J.||Hicks, G.|
|Belcher, J. W.||Dodds, N. N.||Holman, P|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Donovan, T.||House, G.|
|Benson, G.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hoy, J.|
|Berry, H.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Hubbard, T.|
|Beswick, F.||Durbin, E. F. M.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Dye, S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Binns, J.||Edelman, M.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Blackburn, A. R,||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool, Edge Hill)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Ewart, R.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St Pancras, S.E.)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Fairhurst, F.||Jones, Rt Hon. A C (Shipley)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Farthing, W. J.||Jones, D T (Hartlepool)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W T.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Burden, T. W.||Field, Capt. W. J||Keenan, W.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Kenyon, C|
|Callaghan, James||Follick, M.||Key, C. W|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Foot, M. M.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Kinley, J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Freeman, J. (Watford)||Lang, G.|
|Chater, D.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Gibbins, J.||Leonard, W.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Gilzean, A.||Lever, N. H.|
|Collick, P.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Levy, B. W.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pearson, A.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Peart, T. F.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Longden, F.||Perrins, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lyne, A. W.||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|McAdam, W.||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|McAllister, G.||Price, M. Philips||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Proctor, W. T.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Pryde, D. J||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McGovern, J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Tiffany, S.|
|Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Randall, H. E.||Titteringtan, M. F.|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Ranger, J||Tolley, L|
|Maclean, N (Govan)||Rees-Williams, D. R||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|McLeavy, F.||Reeves, J.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Rhodes, H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Richards, R.||Walker, G. H.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Medland, H. M.||Robens, A.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Royle, C.||Watson, W. M.|
|Mikardo, Ian.||Sargood, R.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Segal, Dr. S.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Morley, R.||Sharp, Granville||West, D. G.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Wheatley, J. T (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Shurmer, P.||White, C. F (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E.)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mort, D. L.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wilkes, L.|
|Moyle, A.||Skeffington, A. M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Murray, J. D||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Nally, W.||Skinnard, F. W.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Naylor, T E.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Snow, J. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Solley, L. J.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Sorensen, R W.||Williamson, T.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Willis, E.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Sparks, J A.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Stamford, W.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Orbach, M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Woodburn, A.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stokes, R. R.||Wyatt, W.|
|Palmer, A M. F.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J|
|Parker, J.||Stross, Dr. B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Parkin, B. T.||Swingler, S.||Mr. Simmons and Mr. Hannan|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Sylvester, G.O.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Low, A. R. W.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Eccles, D. M.||Lucas, Major Sir J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Elliot, Rt Hon. Walter||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Erroll, F. J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fox, Sir G||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Fyle, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Mackeson, Brig, H. R.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Gage, C.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Birch, Nigel||Gammans, L. D.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Boothby, R.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Glyn, S[...] R||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Bower, N.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Grant, Lady||Marples, A. E|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Gridley, Sir A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Grimston, R V.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morris-Jones, Sir H|
|Butcher, H. W.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morrison, Maj. J G. (Salisbury)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn R. A (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Haughton, S. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S. (Cirencester)|
|Challen, C.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.|
|Channon, H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholson, G.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Herbert, Sir A. P||Nield, B (Chester)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Hogg, Hon Q.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hollis, M. C.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Odey, G. W.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Keeling, E. H.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Digby, S. W.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Pickthorn, K|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Donner, P. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Lloyd, Major Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Raikes, H. V.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)||Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset. E.)|
|Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Studholme, H. G.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Roberts, Major P. G. (Ecclesall)||Sutcliffe, H.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. [...] A. (P'dd[...]n, S)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Teeling, William||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Sanderson, Sir F.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Scott, Lord W.||Touche, G. C.||York, C.|
|Smith, E P. (Ashford)||Turton, R. H.|
|Smithers, Sir W.||Vane, W. M. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Snadden, W. M.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.||Mr. Drewe and Major Conant|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Ward Hon G. R.|
§ The Chairman
If it meets the convenience of the Committee, I think we might discuss the next two Amendments together: In page 1, line 19, leave out "one year," and insert "six months," and in page 1, line 19, leave out "year" and insert "month."
§ Mr. Parker (Dagenham)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, to leave out "one year" and to insert "six months."
There is general agreement on these benches with the idea of cutting down the period of delay possessed by the House of Lords, but many of us feel considerable disquiet about the limited nature of the Government's proposals. Just now, the Home Secretary made it quite clear that the last year of this Parliament would be ineffective from the point of view of passing any controversial legislation should the House of Lords choose to turn down any Measures passed by this House in that last year. That is the first great weakness in the Government's proposals.
The second weakness which I see is that, up to now, the House of Lords has behaved itself reasonably well, and has not turned down any of the Government's legislation. However, I feel that were there only that one year's delaying power in existence there would be a very strong temptation for the House of Lords to use their power of postponement or veto rather more than they have done in the present Parliament, which would cause serious inconvenience indeed to a Government of the Left trying to put through controversial legislation.
Take, for example, the Transport Act. Eventually, the House of Lords allowed it to go through, but had there been only one years's power of postponement or veto they might well have decided to reject it, knowing that in a year's time it would have become law in any case. I ask the Government: What would have been the position had the House of Lords done 624 that? The Transport Act is a very detailed Measure; many of the proposals in such an Act have to be up-to-date at the time it comes into operation, and a delay of a year would probably make a considerable portion of an Act of that character out-of-date by the time it came into law.
The whole position with regard to the power of veto and postponement possessed by the House of Lords has altered considerably since 1911. In 1911 most of the legislation passed by Parliament was of a political character, such as that for the disestablishment of the Welsh Church, or something of that kind, in regard to which it would not matter whether or not the Bill was postponed for two years, because when it came into operation it would still be up-to-date. Nowadays, most of the legislation is of an economic and industrial character, particularly that relating to the various nationalisation proposals, of which we on this side of the Committee expect to see others in this Parliament, and we do not want legislation of that kind postponed for too long before coming into operation.
Even allowing a postponement of one year to the House of Lords is giving a temptation to the Second Chamber to use that power rather more often than they have used it in this Parliament, consequently making serious difficulties for a Government introducing controversial economic and industrial legislation in future. I suggest, that the period of one year should be cut down to six months. I do not disagree strongly with the period of one month suggested by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). In effect, it amounts to the same thing, because most major Measures take at least six months to go through Parliament.
The right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) gave 625 a rather longer timetable just now when talking of major Measures. It is six months from the Second Reading, so in effect the six months' period really rules out the veto altogether. That is the intention of this Amendment, and it amounts to very much the same thing as if we had one month instead of six months: in effect, they both amount to destroying the veto of the House of Lords. That is the intention of this Amendment, and that is why many hon. Members on this side of the Committee think that the one year's period is too long. It ought to be cut down to six months.
The last point I make is, many of us feel that if the House of Lords tries to postpone any major piece of legislation, then this Chamber should have the right to overrule that veto in the course of the same Session. Again, that is the point of this Amendment, that if the House of Lords dislike a Measure and the House of Commons insist upon it, it would go through in one Session, and we should not have to wait till the next Session to use our power to overrule the House of Lords veto.
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading)
My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has argued the case for this Amendment with such clarity, and has put the facts of the situation so cogently before the Committee, that I need to say very little more to induce at least hon. Members on this side to support it. In all the arguments which have gone on with reference to this Bill, and, indeed, in the public discussions which have preceded this Bill, there has been a tendency on the part of those who support it and those who oppose it to try to draw an unreal distinction between the composition of the Second Chamber and the powers of the Second Chamber. It seems to me that that is a false dichotomy. These questions cannot be separated, and we must consider what powers we are prepared to give a Second Chamber in the light of the way that Chamber is constituted, in the light of the extent to which it is responsible and is able to prove its responsibility, and in the light of the assiduity or otherwise with which Members of the Second Chamber do or as is generally the case with our Second Chamber, do not attend to their duties. All these are factors which must be taken into account when considering what 626 powers we are prepared to give to any agency of that character.
It is not very often that I differ from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and where I do differ from him, I do so with considerable diffidence and with the greatest possible deference. I am completely at odds with him when he says that the powers it is proposed to leave to the House of Lords are the maximum powers which could be left to any Second Chamber, however constituted. He, too, then, is a supporter of the view that the constitution of a Second Chamber has nothing to do with a decision on what powers should be passed over to that Chamber. May I reply by giving an extreme case to illustrate the argument? Suppose that we had a Second Chamber elected by universal franchise in precisely the same way as this Chamber. I do not advocate that, because it would obviously be a piece of duplication, and it would lead to a horrible position. Suppose that we had two Chambers both democratically elected in the same way. There would then be no reason at all, under these conditions, for one of these Chambers to arrogate to itself the right to delimit the powers of the other Chamber, which would carry the same weight of democratic electoral authority as itself. Clearly, one must take into account the nature and constitution of the Chamber in considering what powers it should have.
The constitution of the present Second Chamber is very mixed. It includes a number of extremely worthy noble gentlemen, who would probably be included on their merits in a Second Chamber however it were elected. Unfortunately, with that very small number of gentlemen are included a large number of gentlemen who, if they turned up for one of the Debates, would not be recognised even by the police and officers of the House who have been here for 30 years. It includes also a very large number of gentlemen who have risen to the top by the convenient method of having had grandfathers who started at the bottom of the ladder. When we have a Second Chamber of this sort, it can be reasonably argued that the maximum powers which should be passed over to them are the powers which will enable a Bill to go through its constitutional stages in that House within the minimum amount of time, but with sufficient time 627 to complete the processes of public interest in, and discussion of, a Measure. We are left to decide on these two criteria what is the proper period of potential veto which the House of Lords should have, against the criterion that there must be time for the mechanics of a Bill to operate and for public discussion to be completed. I am not an expert on the mechanics of procedure of Parliament. It it clear that there are some grounds for varying views upon what is a proper period for this purpose. The Opposition argue that over two years is an appropriate period, but I do not believe their support for that is based upon any factual analysis of the problem, but is based, as most of their support for other things is based, merely on the general idea that anything fresh must be worse than anything which already exists.
The Government believe that one year is a proper period, and it is very difficult, when dealing with this question of mechanics, to argue against such parliamentarians as the Lord President of the Council and the Deputy-Leader of the House. On the other hand, three of my hon. Friends from North of the Border, who are well known to be practical and realistic men, are arguing that a month is adequate. My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham and I, being reasonable, sober men with a desire to compromise, feel that the truth lies somewhere between my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. Hence, we commend the suggestion that six months is an appropriate period to get a Bill through.
The second criterion is this question of the formation of public opinion. I understand that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) thinks that six months is not long enough, in the case of complicated Bills, for people to work out what they think about a Measure. I put it to the Committee that public discussion on a Measure does not start on the day that a Bill goes to the Lords. It starts, at the very latest, on the day when the Bill is published, and before it comes up for discussion on Second Reading. Very often it starts before that, because people whose interests are adversely affected, or people who think their interests may be adversely affected, by 628 a projected Measure, generally squeal before they are hurt. One has only to cite the enormous argument which went on about the Transport Bill a year before it was produced.
It must also be remembered that when their Lordships come to consider a Measure, they do so with advantages which Members of this House do not have. They do so with the advantage of having the records of all the Debates through all the stages of the Bill in its passage through this House. We in this House, when a Bill comes fresh to us, have to find out for ourselves the meaning of the not always clear language of the Bill. We have to make up our minds what we think it means, decide the pros and cons, and grope for a long time towards the solution of our problems. We find it only in the cut-and-thrust of Debate, either on the Floor of the House or in Committee upstairs. Their Lordships start with all that job done for them, and they start also with public opinion considerably formulated by newspaper and other reports of the Debates which have taken place in this House.
It is not germane for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to argue as though there were no public discussions at all, and no opportunity for their Lordships to inform themselves on a Measure, until it came up for Second Reading in this House. I think that he made that point, with his tongue in his cheek, in order to get in a remark about the Government, to which the Home Secretary replied, having taken three years to make up its mind about the steel Bill. I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, against whom no hon. Member would breathe a word of aspersion, confesses that he spends his spare time listening at the keyhole at No. 10, Downing Street, because that is the only way he could possibly know about dissensions in the Cabinet. I think that he knows that public opinion is well crystallised about any Bill before it gets to the Lords. Between the revolutionary extremists from South Ayrshire on the Left, and the Right Wing extremists on the Front Bench on the Right, who respectively want a one month and 12-month period, the Committee will probably come to the conclusion that six months is just and sensible.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I am surprise to hear the hon. Member 629 for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) describe me as an extremist, and say that this is an extremist proposal. This is a much more moderate suggestion and a much more moderate point of view than the one taken by the Labour Party 36 years ago. At that time, the Labour Party moved an Amendment to the Parliament Bill to limit the Preamble and to abolish the House of Lords altogether. The speakers for the Labour Party on that occasion stressed the point that they were Second Chamber men. They were not extremists; they were not revolutionaries, they included very Conservative constitutionalists like the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. I am rather disappointed that the present Government, with its great majority, have not decided to abolish the House of Lords altogether, and so pave the way for the generations that are coming after us—clearing away this debris of constitutionalism and leaving the way free for us to build up a Socialist commonwealth.
My very moderate Amendment—to leave out "year," and to insert "month"—allows the House of Lords to continue, but says that one month is quite sufficient for it to be allowed to delay legislation passed by this House. In Scotland, we have a special grievance against the House of Lords because we have two kinds of peers. We have the hereditary peers and the elected peers, elected by their peers. The hereditary peers, I submit—although the Members who represent the English constituencies do not know a great deal about them—who are likely to descend on us in time of crisis are the people who do not take a great deal of interest in the affairs of the other House; but they have for a long time taken a very reactionary part in the public life of Scotland, especially in local government.
We have heard about iron and steel, but there are other pieces of legislation which are coming along, and one of them is the Scottish Agriculture Bill. Many of us would like to see it drastically altered in Committee, so that extended powers of compulsory purchase would be given to the Secretary of State for Scotland, which would enable us to get big instalments for the nationalisation of the land of Scotland. When this proposal emerges from the Committee Stage, we are likely—I am warning the Government 630 —to get both kinds of peers descending on us, and opposing such a Bill with more enthusiasm than they are likely to show on the iron and steel Bill. So I suggest we take as drastic powers as possible—for, after all, this Government might as well be killed for a sheep as for a lamb. The hereditary peer has been described very well by the late Secretary for Scotland, Mr. Thomas Johnston, to whom a tribute was paid in the other place only last night as being the greatest Secretary of State Scotland has ever had.
I will not dwell upon this point, but I would like to give one brief quotation which describes the point of view and historical background with which we in Scotland approach this matter. I could give a good many quotations, and I could supply hon. Members with biographical data of the respective noble Lords who are likely to descend on them. The ex-Secretary of State for Scotland has described the people likely to come from Scotland to the House of Lords as follows:Generation after generation, these few families of tax-gatherers have sucked the lifeblood of our nation; in their prides and lusts they have sent us to war, family against family, clan against clan, race against race; that they might live in idleness and luxury, the labouring man has sweated and starved; they have pruned the creeds of our Church and stolen its revenues; their mailed fists have crushed the newer thought, and their vanities the arts. In their vandalisms they burned and destroyed our national records.In my experience of local government we had to come in conflict with these hereditary peers. There was the Marquis of Bute——
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ The Chairman
I do not know what that point has to do with the Amendment under discussion. I cannot see what hereditary peers have got to do with six months or one month or why the Marquis of Bute should be mentioned.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
With all respect, the point I was making was that these gentlemen should not have any power to delay legislation even for one month. In my experience as a town councillor we have encountered these hereditary peers, who have stood in the way of housing. Housing schemes have been held up for a considerable time because one of these hereditary peers would not allow us to have one square yard of land for the 631 purposes of slum clearance. If there is legislation affecting the land the Government are likely to get these reactionary peers coming down. There is one noble duke——
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
On a point of Order. I put it that this is an attack on personalities in the House of Lords.
§ The Chairman
I have called the attention of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to the fact that he must not develop his argument on these lines. Nor is it permissible to make reflections on persons in another House.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
It is not clear whether the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) was referring to a hereditary peer or an elected peer.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
This is one of the elected peers. I do not wish to make an attack upon the noble duke. What I wish to point out is that this noble duke for many years happened to own a very large island in the West of Scotland, but he refused even to have a Co-operative Society on this island.
§ The Chairman
Order! That may or may not be a fact, but I do not think it has anything to do with the question whether the time of delay should be one year, six months or one month.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The only point is I would not give this noble Lord power to obstruct legislation for 24 hours never mind a month. I want to pass on. Why should an earl from Scotland come here and hold up legislation affecting the purchase of land in Scotland. I warn the Government that they are likely to get an influx of these gentlemen whenever they come to discuss any question of land. I just want to deal with the question of the peers who are elected. There are 16 peers who are elected——
§ The Chairman
I really do not see how that question comes under the present Amendment. The hon. Member must confine himself to the terms of the Amendment, which is a question of time and not a question of the merits or demerits of the various classes of peers, unless the hon. Gentleman can relate that 632 fact to the question of time. Even then he is not permitted to reflect upon Members of another House.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
It is very difficult to elaborate the point in those circumstances. I am going to conclude with this point—and I thank you, Major Milner, for the tolerance you have shown towards me—there are 16 of these peers and a meeting was held recently in Edinburgh to elect them. Only 12 of the other peers turned up to elect 16. I suggest that an institution of this kind should have its powers severely limited, and I urge the Government to accept the very moderate and sensible Amendment which I have put on the Order Paper.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I am sure we have listened with fascinated interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), and I think it was an achievement of patience on your part, Major Milner, and dexterity on his, that he so successfully survived for quite a time. I listened with great interest to what he said about what happened 36 years ago when the original Parliament Act of 1911 was considered. Then the fairly small Labour Party in this House voted for the complete abolition of the House of Lords. We all enjoyed ourselves in those days, and we are hoping to enjoy ourselves now, but whatever may be said about that, it would be stressing the doctrine of the mandate very, very far in existing circumstances, and in the absence of excessive provocative action on the part of another place, to assume we have got a case in this Parliament either for the abolition of the Second Chamber, or the virtual abolition of the Second Chamber.
I say quite frankly that if in my younger days I advocated the abolition of the House of Lords—I have no clear memory upon it but it would be a wonder if I did not—I am bound to say, in the light of my Parliamentary experience, that I am doubtful whether it would work, because within the process of amending Bills, of which I have now had a lot of experience, even in the best regulated measures there is a need for amending, and the best Ministers go on amending and amending. Sometimes I am almost driven to the shocking conclusion—I can assure the House that I am not coming to that stage—that what we want is not 633 two Chambers, but three, in order to get on with Amendments. From a practical point of view, we have revision and amendment which would block the House if there were not a Second Chamber that can be doing these things while this House does some other legislative and necessary work.
Having uttered these few reactionary observations, though they embrace the realities of the situation, we come to the point of whether the period is to be one month or six months. The real point inherent in this discussion is whether the powers of the Bill are adequate to prevent another place improperly and unduly impeding the will of the people as expressed in this House. That is the real practical question which is before us. I do not complain at all that my hon. Friends should have brought forward these Amendments. I think that my moderate friends, with their period of six months, might be called the Mensheviks, and as for my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire, I am afraid, I must be driven to call him the Bolshevik in this case. They have put their case very sweetly, very reasonably, and with great charm.
With regard to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire, whose Amendment is for one month, I must point out that he has rather misunderstood what would be the effect of his Amendment if it were adopted. He has said on a number of occasions that he wishes another place to have no power of delay other than one month and that he would like to cut their power to that extent. With great respect, this particular Amendment, if it were carried, would mean that a Bill could be passed over the heads of another place provided it passed through two Sessions of this House and in a period of not less than one month from the date of its first Second Reading in this House to the date of its final passing in the second Session of Parliament. We have done some legislative streamlining in this present Parliament, and we have moderately speeded up the Parliamentary machine, but we have not got anywhere near that, and are not likely to. Under this Measure, an important Bill gets a Second Reading here and goes through all its stages, and after going through all its stages in another place, is sent back, and in the second Session that procedure 634 has to be repeated, although not necessarily all of it. My hon. Friend contemplates that that might occupy only one month. That is Bolshevism gone mad, and it will not do for the British Parliament. He must not go as far as that. His Amendment is intended to limit the delay of another place to one month, but it is not practical politics to confine the whole process to one month. I hope that in the same spirit of sweet reasonableness with which he made his speech, he will be good enough, either not to press the Amendment, or to withdraw it.
With regard to the more moderate proposals of my hon. Friends the Members for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) and Reading (Mr. Mikardo), the case against them is not so strong as it is against my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire. Nevertheless, while their proposal could be so argued—and it had better be taken notice of in all quarters, including another place—nobody wants to be provoked into this rather more extreme course. I do not complain that the proposal has been made, but I put these considerations to my hon. Friends. The proposal is too tight. It contemplates an unreasonably short period. Let us examine what happens. A Bill may be introduced here for Second Reading in November, but we can also have important Bills introduced in February. Last Session the Electricity Bill was not introduced until February, and I think there was another Bill about that time. These Bills have to go through all their stages in this House, and if they are Bills of importance, that is bound to take some time. They have then to go to another place and go through all their stages there, and something may have to happen under this Bill, when it becomes an Act, in the second year.
It is reasonable in principle—and I think it is right in principle—that if a dispute is going to exist between the two Houses, which would presumably be about a matter of some importance, the Statute should require that there is reasonable time for both Chambers to think about their respective positions. It is not only a matter that one Chamber votes one way and the other Chamber votes another way, but it is desirable that there should be a reasonable time for reflection, thought, and consideration. What will not be good is if the Constitution works in such a way that one 635 House, whichever it may be, has the power, without thought and reflection and with undue speed, to push legislation down the throat of another House in the Parliamentary institution.
That kind of thing is not natural to the British way of doing things, and it is liable to create an exasperating situation instead of a situation in which people are cross because certain things are happening but nevertheless acquiesce in them. There is something very important about that. It is one of the greatest qualities of the British people that they can have an argument and a bitter fight, but at the end of it there is acquiescence in what the majority has decided. For example, if it were the case that a Bill was introduced in February—which might well happen—or even earlier, it might not get to another place until Whitsun. It would be right that another place should have reasonable time in which to deal with that Bill. Last Session some very important Bills did not go to another place until Whitsun.
The second Session must be allowed for. My belief is that we cannot adequately go through these procedures in a period of six months, and I think that in choosing 12 months the Government were right. I can assure my two hon. Friends that we considered this very carefully and worked out possible timetables and honestly we could not come to a conclusion other than that to enable the necessary processes to take place and to give the right of reflection and consideration, 12 months was a reasonable period. All three of my hon. Friends have put their case with great kindliness and moderation, but in view of the considerations I have put to the Committee, I shall be grateful if they will be so good as to withdraw their Amendments.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Astor (Surrey, Eastern)
The Lord President twice uttered a warning that if another place were provocative, he would be inclined to accept the kind of Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker). If he is attempting to rationalise the constitutional position of the Second Chamber, he must not complain if the Second Chamber use their powers. If, on the other hand, he is not trying to rationalise their position, he had far better 636 be honest about it and withdraw the Bill altogether.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
I must say how very glad I am that the Home Secretary has turned a deaf ear to both the more moderate and the more revolutionary proposals which have been made.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I meant to refer to the Leader of the House. I rise to say how very deeply I deplore the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). The hon. Gentleman's constituency borders on mine and I can assure him that in the parts contiguous to my Division he would not get very much support, if any, for the kind of remarks he has just made. Before the hon. Member comes down and gives the Committee such misleading information, he should inform himself more closely as to just what the position is with regard to the peers in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman gave the Committee to understand that the peers came here in a dual capacity, but that is nonsense. There are 16 representative peers from Scotland who are elected by their peers at the beginning of each new Parliament and no other Scottish peer comes to Westminster unless he is a peer of England, or Great Britain, or of the United Kingdom. I hope the hon. Gentleman will take note of my remarks as being factual and accurate, and will not in future make such glaring inaccuracies.
The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) lifted the curtain a little too much for the pleasure of the Leader of the House as to what has been going on behind the scenes in the Labour Party with regard to this Bill, in consequence of which we have these two Amendments on the Order Paper. The hon. Member for Reading said he could only allow six months because of the composition of the Second Chamber. Does that mean that the hon. Gentleman would be prepared to come along with us and work out a proper reform of the Second Chamber and give to the other House some of the powers which we on this side of the Committee think it should possess? I rather think not, from the general tenor of his remarks.
§ Mr. Mikardo
The extent to which I am prepared to accompany reformed sinners always depends on the degree to which their reformation is repentance and the purpose of the reformation.
For the hon. Gentleman's edification, I do not regard myself at all as a repentant sinner on this issue. I certainly am not a saint, but I am not prepared to allow him to describe me on this matter, or on some other matters, as a sinner, either continuing or repentant. I hope that both the hon. Members will withdraw their Amendments in response to the suggestion of the Leader of the House but, if they do not, I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I shall accompany him into the Division Lobby against his own party.
§ Mr. Parker
In view of the statement of the Lord President of the Council, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I feel that the speeches made during the Debate have indicated far more clearly than anything else what a good effect a two-year period of delay has had in the past, and would have in the future if this Clause to amend the Parliament Act, 1911, were not passed. Whatever colour of Government there may be in future in this country, and whatever may be the future colour of the majority in the House of Lords, is entirely immaterial to the constitutional point that it is necessary, for the satisfactory conduct of the affairs of any country of the magnitude of this one, that there should be a Second Chamber which has adequate and sufficient revising powers. Therefore, I feel we should not allow Clause 1 to pass in its present form without registering one more strong protest against the reduction in the powers of the Second Chamber which it carries with it.
|Division No. 41.]||AYES.||[6.54 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Bacon, Miss A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon A. V.||Attewell, H C||Balfour, A.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Austin, H Lewis||Barstow, P. G.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Awbery, S. S.||Barton, C.|
|Alpass, J H||Ayles, W. H.||Battley, J. R.|
|Anderson, A (Motherwell)||Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Bechervaise, A. E.|
§ which I must draw attention. I do not propose to make a speech on the content of the Clause because I said my say on Second Reading, but I wish to draw the attention of anybody who is interested in the English language, or in clarity, to the sentence which starts in line 20, on page 1, and continues over the page for another three lines. I defy any normal person reading that sentence to have the slightest idea of what it means. I know we claim great credit that we have no written basic Constitution, but, at least, when we draft Bills dealing with our Constitution some effort should be made to make them intelligible. It is quite the most deplorable piece of drafting one could imagine.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
My right hon. and hon. Friends and myself have expressed our view, on the main part of the Clause, and why we consider that two years, and not one year, is the proper period. We have had considerable Debate on the retroactive provisions in the Clause, and I am sure that no one will object if I take the line for myself, and those who care to act with me on this matter, that we shall vote against the Clause standing part, but we do not think it is necessary after the discussion we have had to prolong the Debate upon it. I am sure right hon. Gentlemen opposite will understand that position.
§ Mr. Ede
I thank the right hon. and and learned Gentleman for what he has said. I am not quite sure what he means by "those who care to act" with him—whether there is some division of opinion as to whether it is desirable to vote against the Clause standing part. However, the whole of the argument has reinforced our view that this is a necessary and very moderate adaptation of the Constitution to modern circumstances, and I advise all my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote for the retention of this Clause in the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 120.641
|Belcher, J. W||Hardy, E. A.||Perrins, W.|
|Benson, G.||Harrison, J||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Berry, H.||Haworth, J||Popplewell, E.|
|Beswick, F.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Price, M. Philips|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Herbison, Miss M.||Proctor, W T.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Hobson, C. R||Pryde, D. J|
|Binns, J||Holman, P||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Blackburn, A R||House, G.||Randall, H. E.|
|Blenkinsop, A||Hoy, J||Ranger, J.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hubbard, T.||Rees-Williams, D. R|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Reeves, J.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Hughes, H D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Hutchinson, H L (Rusholme)||Richards, R.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Irvine, A. J (Liverpool)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Brooks, T. J (Rothwell)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Royle, C.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon G. A.||Sargood, R.|
|Burden, T W||Janner, B.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Callaghan, James||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Sharp, Granville|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Shurmer, P.|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Silverman, J (Erdington)|
|Champion, A. J.||Keenan, W.||Silverman, S S (Nelson)|
|Chater, D||Kenyan, C.||Simmons, C J|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Key, C. W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Cluse, W. S||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Skeffington-Lodge, T C|
|Cobb, F. A.||Kinley, J||Skinnard, F W|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lang, G.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Coldrick, W.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Collick, P.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Snow, J. W|
|Collins, V. J.||Leonard, W.||Solley, L. J|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Leslie, J R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Lipton, Lt.-Col M.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Longden, F||Sparks, J. A.|
|Corbet, Mrs F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Lyne, A W||Stamford, W.|
|Corlett, Dr J.||McAdam, W||Stokes, R. R|
|Corvedale, Viscount||McAllister, G||Stross, Dr. B|
|Cove, W G||McEntee V La T||Swingler, S.|
|Crawley, A.||McGhee, H. G.||Sylvester, G. O|
|Daines, P.||McGovern, J.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McKinlay, A. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, Haydn (St Pancras, S.W.)||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McLeavy, F.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Deer, G.||MacMillan, M K (Western Isles)||Thomas, I O (Wrekin)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Mann, Mrs J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Diamond, J.||Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)||Tiffany, S.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. G||Titterington, M. F.|
|Donovan, T.||Medland, H. M.||Tolley, L.|
|Driberg, T E. N.||Mellish, R. J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Middleton, Mrs L||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Ede, Rt. Hon J. C.||Mikardo, Ian||Ungoed-Thomas L|
|Edelman, M.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E R||Vernon, Maj W. F|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Mitchison, G. R.||Viant, S P|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Moody, A S.||Walker, G H|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Morgan, Dr. H. B||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Evans, A. (Islington, W.)||Morley, R||Warbey, W N|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Morris, P (Swansea, W.)||Watson, W M|
|Evans, S N (Wednesbury)||Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E.)||Webb, M (Bradford, C.)|
|Ewart, R||Mort, D. L.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Fernyhough, E||Moyle, A.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Field, Capt. W J.||Murray, J. D.||West, D. G.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Nally, W.||Wheatley J. T. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Follick, M.||Naylor, T. E.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Foot, M M.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Whiteley, Rt Hon W|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Wilkes, L|
|Ganley, Mrs C. S.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Wilkins, W A|
|Gibbins, J.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Willey, F T. (Sunderland)|
|Gibson, C W||O'Brien, T.||Willey, O. G (Cleveland)|
|Gilzean, A||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, D. J (Neath)|
|Glanville J. E (Consett)||Orbach, M||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Gordon-Walker, P C||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williamson, T.|
|Grey, C. F.||Palmer, A M F||Willis, E|
|Grierson, E.||Pargiter, G. A.||Wills, Mrs E. A.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Parker, J.||Woodburn, A|
|Griffiths, Rt Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Parkin, B. T||Wyatt. W|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Paton, Mrs F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Guy, W H||Pearson, A||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hall, Rt Hon Glenvil||Peart, T. F.||Mr. Hannan and|
|Mr. George Wallace.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P G||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A V||Pitman, I. J|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Haughton, S. G.||Ponsonby, Col, C. E.|
|Amory, D Heathcoat||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Astor, Hon M||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Herbert, Sir A. P||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Beechman, N. A||Hogg, Hon. Q||Renton, D.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hollis, M. C.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Birch, Nigel||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Bries, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Boothby, R.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L. W||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Bossom, A C||Keeling, E. H.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Bower, N.||Lambert, Hon. G||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Langford-Holt, J.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Snadden, W. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Challen, C.||Lloyd, Selywn (Wirral)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Channon, H.||Lucas, Major Sir J||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Sutcliffe, H|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'tn, S.)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Teeling, William|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (B'mley)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Digby, S. W.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Dodds-Parker, A D.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Donner, P. W.||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Marlowe, A A. H.||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Drayson, G. B||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)||Mellor, Sir J||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Eccles, D. M.||Molson, A. H. E.||Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fox, Sir G.||Morrison, Maj J. G. (Salisbury)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon Sir U P M||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir nc'ster)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C E.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|George, Maj Rt. Hn. G Lloyd (P'ke)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Clyn, Sir R.||Nicholson, G.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Nield, B. (Chester)||York, C.|
|Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Grimston, R. V||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Pickthorn, K.|
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported without Amendment; to be read the Third time upon Monday next.