HC Deb 09 April 1948 vol 449 cc547-50
Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)

I would like to say that I do not propose to move the Amendments in my name in lines 39, 41 and 45. The question of "knowingly" is dealt with in another Clause which we shall reach later. In regard to the other provisions, as the right hon. Gentleman is now leaving the Bill in its present state, the Amendments become unnecessary.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

Does that apply also to the Amendment in page 3, line 12?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

If you will allow the slight informality, Sir, I would like to ask whether the Financial Secretary will be given an opportunity to explain the position in connection with death certificates, which is a matter which is very much in the minds of all those who are interested in the Bill?

Mr. Molson

On a point of Order. There is no great difference between the two sides of the House. There were some Amendments put down by the Government which were withdrawn at the last moment, and that is why some of our Amendments, which were Amendments to those Amendments have fallen. If no Amendments are moved to this Clause I take it that on Report we can have no discussion, because I understand that on this stage of the Bill the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" is not put. If it appeared to you, Sir, that by not moving any of our Amendments the Government would be precluded from giving any explanation as to why their Amendments were withdrawn at the last moment, I would ask you whether we might formally move one of our Amendments, so as to give the Government an opportunity of giving an explanation to the House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It would be more in Order if an Amendment were formally moved, so that an explanation could be given by the Government.

Mr. Oliver Poole (Oswestry)

Further to that point of Order. As certain Government Amendments were withdrawn we withdrew our Amendments, which were Amendments to their Amendments—in page 2, line 39, line 41, and line 45, and in page 3, line 12.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I am anxious to make a short statement on what has happened, as the House is entitled to know. I think that the suggestion made by the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr Molson), that an Amendment should be moved formally, is a good one.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, after "sum," to insert: under any insurance taken out by him. The only reason why we did not move an Amendment earlier was that we thought it would be more convenient to deal with the matter later, but I think it is better to do it now. This will give the Financial Secretary an opportunity to deal with the question of inherited and assigned policies, and the question of death certificates, which arises under the First Schedule.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Those who were members of the Standing Committee will remember that we there decided that an individual, in insuring those who came within the permitted classes, should be limited to the sum of £20. We visualised this case: each of two brothers, quite legitimately and legally, in his own right, insures his father for£20. One of the brothers dies, and the question arises of what should happen to the policy of that brother. It was generally felt that it would be only fair that the surviving brother should be allowed to take over the policy of his dead brother if he so liked. But under the Bill as it stands this would mean that he would be over-insuring, because the upper limit for one person is£20. We wanted to provide for a case of that kind, and we have been trying to find a form of words which would put that intention into the Bill. The difficulty of the Government and of the Parliamentary draftsmen has been to find a watertight form of words. "To insure to be paid" is a phrase which might mean instantaneous insurance once and for all, or might mean continuing insurance. We must find words which are clear, and which will not lead to any ambiguity once they become part of the Act. We are still searching but, in association with those who are experts in these matters, I am sure we shall find a form of words which will be adequate for what we want to do. We propose to insert those words in the Bill when it reaches another place.

Mr. O. Poole

I am sure everyone will welcome the fact that the Government have had the closest consultation with the industry on this matter, and have withdrawn their Amendments with the object of continuing those discussions and moving Amendments in another place. One of the most satisfactory aspects of this Bill has been not only the co-operation between both sides of the House, but the co-operation between the Government and the industry. All those who are interested in this matter will welcome what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I am sure that everyone will cooperate in trying to reach a satisfactory solution.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I beg to move, in page 3, line 20, to leave out "commencement," and to insert, "passing."

This is a drafting Amendment. Generally, there is in an Act of Parliament little or no difference between the words "passing" and "commencement," but occasionally, in Acts of Parliament that are not to come into operation before a given date, there is a real difference between the two words. In this Bill we use both words, but the correct word in this case is, quite definitely, "passing."

Further Amendments made: In page 3, line 27, after "order," insert "or the award of sequestration of his estate."

In line 28, leave out "commencement," and insert "passing."

2.30 p.m.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I beg to move, in page 3, line 32, to leave out "effected," and to insert "granted."

As the Clause speaks of friendly societies and industrial assurance companies, and speaks of an insurance "effected" by them, we suggest that the word "granted" would be a better word to use than "effected." It is a purely drafting Amendment, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept it.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The original Amendment governing this was withdrawn after we had discussed it. Surely, this should not be inserted here. If we are to make Amendments in another place this ought not to be necessary.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I have no desire to make difficulties, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.