HC Deb 14 February 1949 vol 461 cc791-838

Ordered: That the Report from the Select Committee on Hybrid Bills (Procedure in Committee) be now considered."—[Mr. H. Morrison.]

Report considered accordingly.

3.42 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I beg to move: That the recommendations contained in the Report from the Select Committee on Hybrid Bills (Procedure in Committee) in Session 1947–48 be approved, subject to the qualification that a Bill against which no Petition has been lodged may be committed either to a Committee of the Whole House or to a Standing Committee, as the House may determine. From time to time we in this House, like people in houses everywhere, have to spare a few minutes to do a bit of spring cleaning. We have to sweep away any dust that has accumulated and tidy out all the corners. That is what the House is respectfully invited to do in relation to this important Report of the Select Committee. The Report which we are inviting the House to approve is really a piece of Parliamentary spring cleaning, and the dusty corner we want to start to sweep out is our procedure for handling hybrid Bills on the Committee stage—that is, those Bills which are public Measures but which also affect private interests in such a way that we apply to them our Standing Orders and procedure relating to private business.

We have had before us in the last few years quite a number of hybrid Bills, some important, some relatively unimportant; and I have no doubt that more will be needed in years to come The House will remember that the Bank of England Bill was a hybrid Bill; so was the Cable and Wireless Bill, in relation to which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury gave evidence at some length before the Select Committee; and so was the Trafalgar Estates Bill; and there have been many others. Among others before the war was the London Passenger Transport Bill which had quite a lengthy hearing before the Select Committee, with a great assembly of learned counsel and expert witnesses. I remember in connection with that Bill, which I introduced as Minister of Transport, that I myself was called out of a Cabinet meeting and required to give evidence on that Bill at the request of its opponents. I am afraid I had very little notice to prepare my case, but it was a most interesting experience for two days, and I think a good time was had by all. Anyway we got the Bill through Committee, and, in the end, it was amended and passed by the National Government that followed in 1933

All these hybrid Bills start in this House in the same way as other public Bills, that is to say, they have a Second Reading, in the course of which we discuss the general policy and principle of whatever is proposed in the Bill. But next, under our present procedure, the Bill is usually committed to a Select Committee, before which anyone whose interests are specially affected may appear and petition against the provisions of the Bill. This is most important, and I think the whole House will agree that we must uphold the right of those individuals, undertakings and public authorities directly concerned to appear and to be heard before the Select Committee. This is all straightforward and sensible.

The part of the procedure which has become untidy is the extent to which the person petitioning against a hybrid Bill m this way may attack the public policy which inspires the Bill. In other words, can someone whose interests are affected contest only its provisions which directly affect him, or can he attack the whole principle upon which the Bill is based and which, of course has by that time had a Second Reading in one of the Houses of Parliament? At the moment, of course, we are dealing with this House. There is another question closely connected with this one. Is it the responsibility of the promoter of the Bill, who is usually, but not always, a Minister of the Crown, to prove to the Select Committee that the Bill as a whole is expedient, or can he rely on the fact that the House has given it a Second Reading and regard this question as closed?

In practice these questions have been largely answered over the last 100 years according to whether or not the Bills have had Preambles—a question which has often depended on no more than a personal preference and the drafting technique of the draftsman. This might not have been a matter of any great importance if it had been merely a question of untidiness, but variations in the procedure, and the uncertainty which they have cast on the whole question of the true functions of these Select Committees, have been a source of difficulty to the Committees themselves and have undoubtedly been unsatisfactory for the House as a whole.

It was as a result of this state of affairs that the House in December, 1947, appointed a Select Committee to go into the whole question of procedure in Select Committee on hybrid bills. I think I shall be speaking for all parts of the House when I say we are grateful to the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) and his colleagues on the Select Committee for their labours. They have had to examine in detail the past practice and a wealth of conflicting precedents, and to ferret out from them the principles on which they appear to have been based. The conclusions they reached and the suggestions they made for reforming the procedure are clearly set out in the Report which is now before us. The Government have studied this Report with interest and care, and we think it is a good Report. I hope and expect that the House as a whole will agree that it is a good one. There is one small point to which I shall come in a minute, on which we have a slight further refinement to suggest, but the Report as a whole has our entire approval.

The doctrine on which the Report proceeds must, I think, be agreed by everyone—first, that the functions of a Select Committee are those which the House expressly delegates to it; second, that the purpose of committing a hybrid Bill to a Select Committee is to give an individual whose interests are specially affected a chance to state his case and defend his interests—a right, of course, we wish to preserve. Those are the two basic principles which underlie the recommendations in the Report which we are considering. The first and main recommendation is none the worse, I think, for being a compromise. It is a compromise between two different forms of procedure which we adopt. There is the procedure of public Bills whereby the principle of a Bill is taken to have been affirmed by Second Reading and cannot be questioned in Committee. There is the practice we follow on private Bills when we use the Second Reading merely to convey that there is no serious objection to the Bill on public grounds, leaving the affirmation of the expediency of the Bill to be approved before a Private Bill Committee. The hybrid Bill is somewhere half-way between the ordinary public Bill and the private Bill, and so it is not very surprising that the procedure we recommend the House to adopt lies somewhere half-way between the two forms of practice which I have just described.

What is suggested is that unless the House especially instructs a Committee that it has to investigate and decide on the expediency of a hybrid Bill, the Second Reading is to be taken as conveying the approval of the House to the principle of the Bill, so that the promoters will not be required to prove its expediency to the Select Committee, and an objector will not be allowed to argue against its expediency except as it affects him especially. But if, as may happen in some cases, the House thinks that the Bill ought to be treated more on the lines of a private Bill, then the House can arrange for the procedure to be modified accordingly. This is the main recommendation in the Report, and we commend it to the House as providing a far more certain and logical method of procedure than the present anomalous practices.

I shall not discuss the other recommendations which the Select Committee have made, since these are clearly summarised at the end of the Report, and also, I gather that the chairman of the Committee will hope to do so in the course of this discussion. The slight refinement to which I referred earlier, and which is mentioned in the Motion I have moved, relates to the seventh and last of the Committee's recommendations. The purpose of committing a Bill to a Select Committee is to allow anyone especially affected to prepare and voice his objections. The Report, bearing this in mind, makes what we think is a very sensible recommendation, that if no one petitions against a Bill, the Select Committee stage is unnecessary, and the Bill can go straight on to the next stage. This seems to be sound and reasonable. The Standing Orders relating to private business, providing for the publication of the notice of persons appearing to be specially affected, give them an opportunity to lodge petitions and to be heard if they so wish. Apart from this, the ordinary practices of consulting at an early stage all interests likely to be affected by a hybrid Measure give everyone an ample opportunity to make themselves heard or to seek to be heard.

The refinement which we think may be added is that, in such cases, the House should have the option of committing the Bill either to a Committee of the whole House or to a Standing Committee. When I say "such cases," I mean cases in which no petitions are promoted against the Bill and, therefore, the Bill does not proceed to a Select Committee. We have to consider what is the next stage, and obviously the next stage is the ordinary Committee stage which would apply to a public Bill. We think that the House should be free, according to the nature of the appeal and the wishes of the House, either to take the Bill on the Floor or commit the Bill to a Standing Committee upstairs. There are some Hybrid Bills which could appropriately be considered by Standing Committee, and we feel it would be convenient to the House to have this option. I do not think that this refinement, which aims at keeping the procedure flexible, goes against anything which the Select Committee have in mind. Indeed, on reading their report, I wondered if they had not perhaps intended to make this part of their recommendations.

With this small but, as we thought, useful addition, I invite the House to give the Report its approval. I have spoken quite shortly on the Report of the Select Committee, but I thought it right that a brief statement should be made on a matter of this character, which has some effect upon private rights, and I hope that, with that short explanation and any observations which hon. Members may wish to make, the House will be good enough to agree to the Motion which I have moved.

3.56 p.m.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)

The right hon. Gentleman spoke as if this were an ordinary spring-cleaning or tidying-up Measure, to use his own words, as the House, by almost universal agreement, was accustomed to indulge in from time to time in order to bring their Measures up to date. I hope that hon. Members of this House who have not read the Report will not be deceived by that statement. This Report, in parts, involves a major change in our machinery, and the dusty corner which the right hon. Gentleman said that we were now engaged in tidying up is one of the few remaining corners where private rights can be preserved, and where the benefit of these private rights to the public interest can also be preserved.

There are some parts of the Report with which we on the Opposition Benches do not quarrel. The right hon. Gentleman made reference to the presence or absence of a Preamble. He referred to the London Passenger Transport Act. I believe that in that case counsel for the Government declared that there was a notional Preamble and commented on it along those lines. But that illustrates that the Preamble has ceased to have the importance which it used to have, and we on these benches do not quarrel with the view that the presence or absence of a Preamble should not affect the procedure in Committee. However in other respects, and in one major respect, there was certainly no unanimity on the Committee.

As the right hon. Gentleman was commending the Report to the House, perhaps it would have been a little better if he had mentioned the fact that there were two Divisions on the Select Committee, and the two Opposition Members, of whom I was one and the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) was the other, supported the minority Amendment. We did not accept the view that this is merely a piece of small administrative machinery. We believe that private rights are going to be seriously curtailed and through these private rights being curtailed the State will suffer. It is a very important proposal indeed, and the Report and this Motion approving it are of considerable Parliamentary importance. Hon. Members who have done us the credit of reading the Report, will notice the evidence of Sir Charles Browne, the very distinguished Parliamentary Agent and, indeed, the Government's own agent. He said: If"— as the result of this Select Committee's activities— the terms of the order of reference were altered so as to give a petitioner only a conditional right of opposition, I think that would be a material alteration of the practice of the House. In our view this is happening. What we are now discussing is a material alteration in the practice of the House.

The Lord President of the Council referred to the London Passenger Transport Bill. As Minister of Transport he had two days in the witness box being cross-examined at very short notice and in great detail on the details of the Bill, and also on the policy behind it, but no one at that time suggested that petitioners should be stopped from challenging the principles of public policy involved in the Bill. Had this Report been accepted by the House before that Bill came before the Hybrid Bills Committee, that procedure would not have been possible, and in all probability the chairman would have ruled that the House had given unconditional approval to the principles of the Bill, and would have limited what any petitioner might say to the area—if I can describe it in that way—of the petitioner's own locus standi.

Mr. H. Morrison

I quite agree with what the hon. Member is saying; he is quite right. I intervene only to say that from a purely selfish point of view I should have been exceedingly sorry to miss that experience: they were two of the most enjoyable days of my life.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Then in the un-likely event of the right hon. Gentleman's party ever providing Ministers to be cross-examined again, I think it is a little harsh of him to deprive them of such future pleasures.

Since that Bill we have had a further Bill: the Cable and Wireless Act. That was a hybrid Bill; a Bill of enormous importance, of great international significance, the full consequences of which this country has not yet wholly realised. On the Committee stage of that Bill before the Select Committee, while the chairman certainly indicated that he did not require from the promoters detailed evidence in support of the Bill, he made—as the hon. Gentleman who was chairman well remembers himself—no attempt whatever to challenge the petitioners from advancing arguments against the expediency of the Bill. They were allowed to do so, and indeed did so at considerable length. It would no longer be possible to do this, and the freedom allowed to private interests, genuinely believing they were serving the public advantage, could not now take place if a strict interpretation of this Report guides future chairmen of Committees.

The more important of the two Amendments which my hon. Friend and I moved to this Report can be found on page 17. It was our view that a petitioner should not be debarred from advancing any argument tending to show: either that the justice done to himself and other particular persons in a similar position to or associated with himself is so great as to outweigh any public advantage, or that the alleged public advantage relied upon by the promoters to justify the interference with private rights is insufficient for the purpose, or both of these contentions. It is the view of the Conservative Party that once a petitioner has established his locus standi, there are very few limiting conditions that should be imposed upon what he can say. His petition is lodged "against the Bill"—that is the time-honoured phrase: not against one particular aspect of the Bill, but "against the Bill."

It is, of course, one of our chief criticisms of this proposed change in our machinery that it is unfair to private rights, and a hybrid Bill is a quasi-private Bill. But this is not our only contention. It is our contention, as I have said, that the public interest suffers by curtailing these private rights. The effect of some of the recommendations in this Report is to make rules which will in future prevent petitioners putting forward arguments to protect the public interest. In the case, for example, of the Cables and Wireless Act, to which I have made reference, the company put forward arguments which were not known to the House as a whole, and which it was in the public interest that the House should know; and undisclosed facts emerged before the Committee which might have made many hon. Members question whether the Bill should have had a Second Reading at all.

There is another and a very important point to which my hon. Friends and I attach a great deal of importance. Since the sitting of this Committee, I have read and re-read the Report with great care, and I must confess that I am now seriously concerned with what is the petitioner's right if he wants to claim that he should be excluded from the operations of a future hybrid Bill. Paragraph 19 provides that an opportunity must be afforded for those whose interests have been singled out for treatment to state fully their case for amending the Bill in order to secure their protection or compensation. Those are the important words: in order to secure their protection or compensation. Paragraph 26 repeats those words "protection or compensation," and words of rather similar form were used by the right hon. Gentleman only a few moments ago.

Now, does this emphasis on protection and compensation imply that no petitioner will in future be entitled to contend that he should be excluded from a Bill? Would he be now prevented from claiming that he be excluded from a Bill? If the right hon. Gentleman could give us some guidance on that at this point it would, I think, make the Debate a little more profitable. He has had a little more notice about this Debate today than he had at the time of the London Passenger Transport Bill, and I should be very grateful if he could answer this: would a petitioner be entitled to claim before the Select Committee that he be excluded from the operations of a Bill? After all, in the case of the Iron and Steel Bill he had a little longer to make up his mind; a large number of concerns were, in the Bill itself, excluded from the operations of the Bill. The Iron and Steel Bill was saved only by a last minute Amendment from itself becoming a hybrid Bill and being treated as such. It would, I think, be a little absurd for the Bill to exclude certain firms but for a petitioner to be prevented from moving for his own exclusion when it goes before a Hybrid Bills Committee. Will the right hon. Gentleman answer that question? It would help if we could know at this stage.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

As I understand the hon. Gentleman's question, it is whether a petitioner, supposing he has an objection—and he is not the only one who might object; he has rights, but his rights are particular and peculiar to himself—would be permitted to petition so far as he himself is concerned, without others who might be joined with him. I think the answer is: most certainly, if he has locus standi.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

And having locus standi, he would be allowed to claim and argue that he be excluded from the operations of the Bill?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Quite obviously.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am very glad to hear that. That is of very considerable importance from the point of view of the liberty of the subject. My first question is, Is there any ground on which it can be seriously contended that, where a Private Bill affects the interests of six persons, one of them cannot seek exclusion from the Bill? To that we have had an answer that there is no ground; one of the six can claim exclusion from the Bill. But now, if such a one is entitled to claim exclusion, then it surely is absurd to say that all six, if there were six interests affected, cannot claim exclusion from the Bill because they would be challenging the whole principle of the Bill. So, if all six, assuming six firms were involved, can claim exclusion from the Bill it would then be our contention that if only one interest, one firm, or one individual, is affected by a hybrid Bill, that single firm, or individual, or interest, can itself claim exclusion from the Bill, and therefore argue against the expediency of the Bill.

Mr. H. Morrison

No. I am speaking on the spur of the moment, of course, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate. Supposing there is provision in a Bill which affects six undertakings, six businesses—I am giving a quick answer, and I hope I am right—then I should have thought the whole six could appear, or that any one of the six could appear and argue their case. I should have thought that the argument, under the decision I am asking the House to approve, would be in relation to the specific undertaking with which the petitioner was associated; but I do not think that he would be permitted to argue against the expediency of the Bill in the sense of inviting the Select Committee to reject the Bill, because we take the view that the Bill has already been approved by the House on Second Reading, and that it would be wrong to permit a continuing power of the Select Committee in the case of a hybrid Bill to take action which would amount to the rejection of the Bill which the House had passed.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We are now in rather a difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that if one petitioner asks to be excluded he can argue in favour of his exclusion, and I said that it would surely be monstrously unjust to prevent all six doing that, on the ground that if all six of them did so it would challenge the expediency of the Bill. Now if six interests are allowed to do that, there is no reason why a single interest should not be allowed to do so. This shows the difficulty in which we are landing ourselves, and before the Debate comes to an end some of my hon. Friends will, no doubt, press for further information on this point, because it is of fundamental importance.

I took it that the word "protection," when dealing with paragraph 19 covered the claim of exclusion, but if that is not the case, our agreement to Clause 19 would not have been given. The argument of any petitioner for exclusion must surely amount to an argument that it is not in the public interest that he should be included. We are now told by the Financial Secretary that a single petitioner out of six can claim exclusion from the Bill, on the grounds, presumably, that it is not in the public interest that he should be included.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

No. As I understand it, the grounds of his complaint are that it would be unfair to him; that his private rights are affected by the Bill and therefore, so far as he is concerned, and in so far as his private rights are concerned, he obviously would be at perfect liberty to appear to put his case. But that surely is a different thing from going over the whole policy underlying the expediency of the Bill as it has passed its Second Reading in the House.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It is a little difficult for the right hon. Gentleman and myself to carry this to a satisfactory conclusion by question and answer, but what is right for one petitioner is surely right for all six petitioners, if each has a case as good as the others. If all six are allowed to claim exclusion, what is the position if there is only one firm or individual affected by the Bill, say, Lord Nelson in the case of the Trafalgar Estates Measure? If Lord Nelson had been allowed to claim exclusion from the Bill, would that not be doing something fundamental to the whole principle of the Bill?

Mr. Morrison

I see the point. It is a perfectly fair and logical point. Presumably all these questions as to who is entitled to appear will be a matter for the interpretation of the Standing Orders by the Select Committee concerned. It is not for me to tell the Select Committee what they will have to do. I am merely indicating what is the common sense interpretation of the Motion I am moving. If it be the case that there are six petitioners covering the whole of the undertakings concerned in a Bill, or one petitioner as in the case of Lord Nelson and the Trafalgar Estates Bill, and they disagree, then, if their petition to omit the operative Clause of the Bill is upheld, it will kill the Measure. I do not dissent from that, but I do not wish them to have power under this Motion to challenge the expediency of the Bill. I agree that there may be cases where, if a petitioner were upheld, it would destroy the Bill, and I do not want to interfere with their rights at all.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The tidying up process is being carried a stage further, and I think we are beginning to see some way in which private interests may be more adequately protected in the future. But, in arguing for exclusion, the individual, be he one or six, the individual must be allowed to argue that the public interest which included him has been wrongly assessed and that the damage he is to suffer far outweighs any public interest involved. My hon. Friend and I moved an Amendment to that effect, and if that Amendment had been included in this Report, it might have had a unanimous passage. The majority of the Select Committee say that a petitioner should be allowed to traverse the principle of the Bill only when he can show his locus standi entitles him to do so. It means that the chairmen of Hybrid Bill Committees in future will have to define each particular area of locus for each petitioner. Interminable discussions are likely to take place on this in the future instead of on the merits of the Bill. In an effort to tidy up our machinery we shall have got ourselves into deeper difficulties.

I should like to make one brief point on compensation. There are a great many people who do not value that which they are engaged upon, by monetary considerations. It is of course important that when ruthless things are done by the State proper compensation should be paid—when people see their life's work confiscated and their businesses closed down. If compensation were the only thing that mattered and the only purpose of referring a hybrid Bill to a Select Committee as some people seem to think, then there would be scarcely any reference of hybrid Bills to Select Committees because every hybrid Bill includes provisions for the question of compensation to be referred to the arbitration of an independent tribunal. Therefore, to that extent compensation comes outside the discussion of the Select Committee.

As I have indicated, we cannot accept the Motion as it stands, or the Report as it is finally issued. That is not to say that we did not have a harmonious and friendly discussion in the Committee, which was of the greatest interest to me personally. We differed on a fundamental point, and it is that fundamental point I have been trying to explain today. It is true that this Report is only a guidance for future chairmen, but naturally and properly, they will pay considerable regard to it. They will I hope pay just as much regard to some of the statements that have come from the Government Front Bench in the course of this Debate. Although this Report is only a guidance to chairmen of Select Committees, there is a clear indication running through it that the petitioner should be entitled to challenge the expediency of a Bill only in the most unusual circumstances. The tendency in future will be to weight the scales still further against the private citizen.

As to paragraph 20, against which we divided in the Committee, there was much expert evidence tendered to us against it in the course of our proceedings. The leader of the Parliamentary Bar, speaking, he said, for all of his colleagues, opposed the principle of curtailment of discussion. The first Parliamentary Counsel to the Treasury took the same view, as well as the Parliamentary Agent to the Government. There was a very formidable battery of information and experience against what has emerged in paragraph 20.

It is our regretful conclusion that the Report as finally drafted will do a grave injustice, will harm the State, and will leave resentment in the minds of many petitioners who will feel that they have not been allowed to talk. There appears to be a strange refusal to face the view that a Committee can hear evidence without being obliged to listen to it or take it seriously. But if a man is refused permission to give evidence, there is permanent resentment after the hearing is over. It almost looks as if the Government are frightened to allow members of their party to hear evidence because they are uncertain of the conclusions to which those members may come. It may cause Bills that have been finalised to be reversed later on. People will argue that there was no full and frank discussion at the time of the Select Committee. It will cause petitioners undoubtedly to leave the defence of their own private interests and their public duties to another place, where the rules of procedure will be more generous to people who are threatened in their private capacities, or through their private capacity in their possible contribution to the State. Aimed at preventing private rights holding up the national will, it will end by harming both private rights and the national interests.

4.21 p.m.

Mr. Benson (Chesterfield)

When the Select Committee met to consider the Procedure on Hybrid Bills they discovered that the origin of hybrid Bills was wrapped in obscurity and that there never had been any attempt either to formulate the purposes for which a Committee on a hybrid Bill was appointed or the procedure that it should adopt. When we came to examine the precedents we found that they were so conflicting, and in certain cases so irrational, that they offered us no guide whatever. In some respects this position simplified our task, for it enabled us to start with a clean sheet in deciding what was the purpose of setting up a Committee on a hybrid Bill, and having decided that, to formulate procedure which should be the most suitable to achieve that purpose.

The purpose of a hybrid Bill is set out in paragraph 19 of our Report, where it is stated: Since a Hybrid Bill, by definition, affects particular interests in a manner different from all other interests in the same category, an opportunity must be provided for those interests which have been singled out to state fully their case for amending the Bill in order to secure their protection or compensation.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

It does not bring in the point that it is in order to secure their exclusion from the Bill.

Mr. Benson

The idea of exclusion was never for a moment considered by the Committee because it had not at that moment arisen. It is not for me definitively to interpret this Report, nor is it for the Lord President of the Council. This Report, if accepted by the House, will have to be interpreted by future Select Committees according to the situation which arises. There can be no definitive interpretation. That was the decision of the Committee as to the purpose of a hybrid Bill and that decision was accepted by all Members. There was no Division and, so far as I can remember, there was little or no criticism of paragraph 19.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In order not to give the impression that I supported something on the Committee and afterwards attacked it, perhaps I may say that at the time one assumed that protection covered exclusion from the Bill; and, of course, at the time one was hoping to carry the Government on the side of paragraph 20, which was coming on shortly afterwards. If there are doubts in the minds of the hon. Member, I am reassured by the right hon. Gentleman from the Government Front Bench. who was much more encouraging.

Mr. Benson

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman assumed that exclusion was covered by protection, because nobody had thought in terms of exclusion in those days. It was a great piece of foresight on the part of the hon. Gentleman. Certainly, exclusion can be included in protection, but that again is a matter for the Committee considering a particular Bill.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

At a later stage in the Report it is specifically stated that with certain types of Bill it would be necessary for the petitioner to ask to be excluded in order to get any protection at all.

Mr. Benson

I shall deal with the rights of a petitioner in a moment. In fact, I think it follows logically upon our decision as to the purpose of a Committee on a hybrid Bill. We have had a very long discussion on what were the rights of the petitioner, particularly in respect of his right to challenge the basic principle of a Bill. As the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) said, that point arose because we had had, in Cables and Wireless, an example of a Committee on a hybrid Bill being used for little more than a Second Reading Debate. It is true, that as Chairman of the Committee, I did not pull the petitioner up on that occasion, because we have no precedents available to us to prevent it.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The hon. Gentleman should remember that others were serving on that Committee as well as he.

Mr. Benson

Yes, I know, and I think I said, "We had not," or at least I intended to do so. There were no precedents available to the Committee to say whether that was or was not a correct Procedure on the part of the petitioners.

The Committee as a whole accepted the principle that a hybrid Bill was a public Bill. They accepted also the principle that a Second Reading of a hybrid Bill was an acceptance by the House of the principle of the Bill. I would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the Amendment moved by his colleagues, which will be found on page xvii, in which the Movers say, talking of the petitioner: He should not in general be allowed to develop a case that the Bill is bad in principle as being contrary to the public interest as such: to do so would be merely to arrogate to himself the proper function of a Member of Parlament. It goes on to say something which I wholeheartedly commend: On the other hand, a petitioner should not be debarred from advancing any argument tending to show…that the injustice or damage done to himself and other particular persons in a similar position to or associated with himself is so great as to outweigh any public advantage. As a matter of fact that principle is also embodied in the Report of the majority.

Mr. Manningham-Buller indicated dissent.

Mr. Benson

Why was an Amendment moved, when the whole principle involved was embodied in the Report? The more one studies the majority Report, if one may so call it, and the Amendment, the more narrow the line between us becomes. If hon. Members will look at paragraph 25 they will find there exactly the same principle embodied in the Report of the Committee. There was little between the Report and the Amendment except perhaps of phraseology.

On both sides of the Committee there was a desire that there should be the right of the Select Committee to give the widest opportunity in certain cases. There are cases where, as the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford has said, compensation does not meet the case. There may be an immensely powerful sentimental association which has been broken. Compensation might not be suitable. There might be the case of a piece of land where severance does very considerable damage, and again compensation might net be suitable. In those cases the petitioner ought to be able to argue that the damage done to him outweighs the advantage to the State, but that is an entirely different thing from saying that every petitioner can come along and challenge the fundamental principle of the Bill and turn the Select Committee stage into a Second Reading Debate as did Cable and Wireless. In view of the guidance which the Report gives future Select Committees, I am certain that if Naboth had had an opportunity of bringing the case of his vineyard before a Select Committee on a hybrid Bill, the very widest facilities would have been given to him to oppose the unfortunate outcome of the proceedings. Save in phraseology the principle in the Report is identical with that in the Amendment.

I want to deal with a point concerning the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford, and it relates to the question whether a hybrid Bill against which there are no petitioners should or should not be sent to a Select Committee. I want to say in respect of our recommendation that there was no question in the mind of any member of the Committee about whether if we recommended that the Select Committee stage should be dropped, the Bill should go to a Committee of the whole House only. We never considered that point. As a matter of fact, we were not competent to consider it because it was outside our terms of reference which were strictly limited to the procedure of the Select Committee and not subsequent stages of the Bill.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

As to the rider added by the Government—that it should be possible to send an unopposed Bill either to a Committee of the whole House or to a Standing Committee—I do not think any of my hon. Friends have any objection to it. Our objection is quite different.

Mr. Benson

I was only making it clear that I thought the Government looked at the mere summary of our recommendations and not the recommendations themselves on this point.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I hope they read the whole Report.

Mr. Benson

I hope they did. It seems to me that to drop the Select Committee stage where there are no petitioners is a logical derivation from the purpose which was unanimously accepted by the Committee and that was to give an opportunity for petitioners to state their case. I am prepared to admit that logic is not everything. That equity and justice shall be done is considerably more important. However, I am not sure that the purpose of equity or justice will be served by the retention of a Select Committee stage where there are no petitions. If there are no petitions I do not see what the Select Committee can do. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford has suggested that the Committee might satisfy themselves that no interest had failed to petition as a result of carelessness, incapacity or expense, but I am not sure how they could find out. There will be the witnesses for the promoters, but I am not sure that the promoters will know why the various interests have failed to petition.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew (Ayr and Bute, Northern)

Surely the Unopposed Bill Committee would be in the same difficulty? Yet we do not have that difficulty upstairs.

Mr. Benson

But does the Unopposed Bill Committee know that Bills are unopposed?

Sir C. MacAndrew

They are not opposed.

Mr. Benson

Exactly. I suggest that if the Select Committee stage of hybrid Bills is maintained when there is no opposition, the Committee has nothing to do. We shall not be able to find out what it is suggested by the Amendment we ought to find out, why the interests have failed to petition against the Bill. The only way the promoters could find out why interests have failed to petition would be to write round to them and say, "You have failed to petition. Please tell us why."

Suppose the interests replied that they did not petition because of carelessness, incapacity or expense and suppose those answers were put before the Select Committee, what would the Select Committee do? It is not in a position to do anything. If the Committee got answers like that they might themselves attempt to represent the interests which had failed to petition. But how? The Committee would not know what questions to ask, and there is no reason to suppose that if they did know the promoters would be able to give them the answers. Even if a Select Committee on a hybrid Bill had power to send for papers and persons, which it has not, in order to enable it to conduct its investigations, immediately there would arise the problem of what papers and what persons should be sent for. The only answer is, "The interests concerned," and in effect the proposal would then be to make attendance before a Select Committee on a hybrid Bill compulsory on all interests affected? Surely that reduces the matter to absurdity?

This is not mere theory. The case has happened. I was on the Committee which dealt with the Wellington Museum Bill. In that case there was no petition and I attempted to ask questions as I thought on behalf of the interests involved. The only thing I succeeded in bringing to light was my own ignorance and ineptitude. I do not remember the proceedings with any great degree of pleasure, but it convinced me when we came to consider the matter in principle that no useful purpose was to be served by maintaining the Select Committee stage of a hybrid Bill where there were no petitions. If justice were served by the Amendment, I would have supported it, but I do not believe it is.

One final point—and in this I can leave the realms of controversy and speak for the Committee as a whole. The Committee were immensely indebted for the amount of research made for us by Mr. Abraham, and also for the constant help he gave us throughout the Sittings. I would also draw the attention of the House to the lucid drafting of the Report, which deals with a complex subject, and for that credit is due to our Clerk. Mr. Bradshaw.

4.41 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

I intervene not to wind up the Debate, but largely in view of what has been said by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson). I was a Member, as he was, of the Select Committee which had to consider the Cable and Wireless Bill. I thought I detected running through his speech, and indeed running through part of this Report, in questions he asked in the course of his evidence, the impression that the Committee had acted wrongly in that instance in letting the petitioners take the course they did. If that is his view, I dissent entirely from it and if, instead of this Report, we were to have another similar Bill, it is important in justice and equity, without the promoters having to establish a case of expediency, that the petitioners against the Bill should be allowed precisely the same licence and liberty as they were against that Measure.

This Report has been praised by the hon. Member for Chesterfield for its lucid drafting. but I should have thought that any Select Committee—if this Report is approved by the House, subject to the one qualification contained in the Motion now before the House—would have found it extremely difficult to extract from it any real guiding principle in determining to what extent petitioners against a hybrid Bill could put forward arguments. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman referred to hybrid Bills as being in the nature of public Bills. I do not find that observation anywhere in this Report. They are defined in Erskine May as quasi-private Bills, but that is by the way.

Then the hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Select Committee had to consider what was the real purpose of setting up a Select Committee for a hybrid Bill. He told us that it was set out in paragraph 19, as being to enable petitioners to put forward their case in order to secure their protection or compensation. This is repeated in paragraph 26. He told us that while considering what was the purpose of setting up a Select Committee for a hybrid Bill, it never occurred to him that one purpose might be to enable a petitioner to come forward and say to the Committee, "I have been wrongly included by mistake." There is not one word in this Report to support the view that a petitioner can ask for exclusion, and I welcomed what the Financial Secretary said on that point. However, a great deal follows from that.

As my hon. Friend said, if a number of private interests are affected, all of which have locus standi, then they can all ask for exclusion, and that will challenge the expediency and the principle of the Bill. In fact, each one of them can contend that it is not in the public interest that he should be included. That was the argument in the Cable and Wireless Bill where there was only one private interest affected. It was argued that it was not in the public interest that they should be taken over, and in my view that was a perfectly proper argument for them to put forward.

The hon. Member for Chesterfield seeks to contend that there is no material difference between the Report as it now stands and the Amendment moved in the Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd).

Mr. Benson

It was redundant.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

If it was redundant it was certainly clearer than the words now contained in the Report, because the Report would seek to imply that first one must engage in this difficult task of defining a locus standi, defining the area of it, and then relating each argument to that particular area; whereas the Amendment makes it quite clear that the petitioner can, as part of his argument, show that the public interest has been incorrectly assessed, and show that the extent of that injury to him outweighs the alleged advantage of the public interest. It that were in the Report, both sides of the House would welcome it, but it is not, and the indication from the speech and questions of the hon. Gentleman was that there should be a principle that there should not be any right for the petitioner other than the right of obtaining compensation. That one can see in Question 302 which he put. But the hon. Member has gone further today; he has indicated in his speech that the right of claiming exclusion should exist only where compensation could be shown to be insufficient.

Mr. Benson

The point that the hon. and learned Member has just put to me is merely an extension, of the previous point he raised, the difference between the Amendment and the Report. There is very little difference, and certainly the Amendment does not bear the interpretation which the hon. and learned Gentleman attempted to put on it. It says quite clearly that the petitioner: should not in general be allowed to develop a case that the Bill is bad in principle as being contrary to the public interest as such: to do so would be merely to arrogate to himself the proper function of a Member of Parliament. That Amendment goes on to point out that the case in which a petitioner should be entitled to challenge the principle of the Bill is only where he can establish that the damage to him, apart from compensation, is so great that it outweighs the public interest.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for interrupting me, but nothing I have said has contradicted the terms of the Amendment. I entirely agree that in general the petitioner should not be allowed to develop a case that the Bill is bad in principle as being contrary to the public interest as such, but the words which follow are the important words which the hon. Gentleman has completely ignored—

Mr. Benson

No, I have not.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

The Amendment says: On the other hand, a petitioner should not be debarred from advancing any argument tending to show: either that the injustice or damage done to himself and other particular persons in a similar position to or associated with himself is so great as to outweigh any public advantage; or that the alleged public advantage relied upon by the promoters to justify the particular interference with the rights of a subject belonging to him and others is insufficient for the purpose; or both of these arguments. That passage is perfectly clear and correctly states what in my belief has been the practice in the past, and in my belief what should be the practice in the future. That passage is not contained, nor is there anything so clear as that passage, in the body of the Report. If the hon. Member says the Report, in other words, is meant to convey precisely the same meaning as that passage, I would not agree with him that the Report is a lucid document worthy of such praise as he gave it. If the view of the Government be that that passage correctly states the position, it is a pity that the majority voted against the inclusion of that passage in the Report.

As I see it, under this Report the rights of petitioners are likely to be most seriously affected, reduced and prejudiced. It may well be that, if the views put forward by the hon. Member for Chesterfield are adopted by a Select Committee, a petitioner would be prevented from putting forward matters peculiarly within his knowledge, and matters which might result in the House taking quite a different view of the question of the public interest. If that happens, in my belief it will be neither to the advantage of the petitioner, nor to the advantage of the public.

4.51 p.m.

Mr. William Wells (Walsall)

There is much which the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has said with which I disagree, but there is one point that emerged from his speech which reduce this Debate to its bare essentials. That is the question of principle that arises on the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth). Speaking, of course, only for myself, may I say that when we were considering the other Amendments put forward on behalf of the Opposition by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), I, and I believe other hon. Members of the Committee, who ultimately voted the same way as I did, were genuinely sympathetic towards the motives which, as we understood, inspired the mover of that Amendment.

Speaking entirely for myself, I was convinced by the evidence. I may have been wrong, but I was convinced that there would be no injustice, no hardship, and that every opportunity lay open to members of the public directly affected to make representations and that this was an unnecessary complication. I may have been wrong in that view, but I believe that is purely a question of detail and interpretation of the evidence and that no question of broad principle underlies the issue that divides us. The real issue, I believe the only underlying division between the members of the two sides of the Committee, arose on the second part of the alternatives posed in the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Hendon. That Amendment states: On the other hand, a petitioner should not be debarred from advancing any argument tending to show: either that the injustice done to himself and other particular persons in a similar position to or associated with himself is so great as to outweigh any public advantage; I will pause there. I think the only difference between the two sides of the Committee was that we would have removed the words after "himself." In other words, we said every member of the public whose own interests are affected by a proposal should be allowed to come before a Committee and make his arguments and have a clear run. But the second alternative was one with which we wholly and entirely dissociated ourselves.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

To what does the hon. Member suggest the arguments under the first part of the Amendment should be directed? If they are not directed to what is stated in the Amendment, to what does the hon. Member think they should be directed?

Mr. Wells

The words with which I should agree would be: either that the injustice or damage done to himself is so great as to outweigh any public advantage. If the sentence had read that way, I should have had no quarrel with it. I am sorry that I failed to make myself clear. The great issue of principle arose on the second part of the Amendment: or that the alleged public advantage relied upon by the promoters to justify the particular interference with the rights of a subject belonging to him and others is insufficient for the purpose. That is the whole core of the difference between the two sides of the Committee. We are wholly unwilling to admit the right of any private person to come before a Select Committee and argue what are in fact questions of policy; that is to say, not questions affecting his own private right, but questions affecting the rights of other people.

It is very interesting to see the line that the Conservative Opposition appear to be taking this afternoon. It is a little difficult to follow the way in which their minds are working. The hon. Member for South Hendon very rightly and properly said in his Amendment that the member of the public should not in general be allowed to develop a case that the Bill is bad in principle as being contrary to the public interests as such; to do so would be merely to arrogate to himself the proper function of a Member of Parliament. If a witness is to be allowed to come before a Committee and argue not only that he is badly, injuriously and wrongly affected by a Bill and that either he ought to be taken out of its scope or, if he is the only person concerned, the Bill should be rejected altogether, that is one thing. But if, in addition, he is to be allowed to say, "Not only am I affected, but my neighbour who is not here but may have quite different views, is affected. Please remember the case of Mr. Jones, who is not represented, and has not bothered to be represented"—what is the position then? We would be allowing a member of the public to come before a Select Committee and constitute himself either as a part-time Member of Parliament raising issues of general policy, or as a kind of unpaid advocate for other people who are not there and have not taken the trouble to put their views forward and whose true views the Committee have no means of ascertaining.

The hon. and learned Member for Daventry referred in his speech, as did other hon. Members, to the Cable and Wireless Bill. He said quite definitely and, I imagine, definitively, on behalf of the Opposition what their attitude would be to a similar Bill in future. I think it was clearly in the minds of the majority of the Members of the Committee and certainly it was clear in my mind, that in no circumstances whatever, in so far as it lay in my power should a repetition of that procedure be tolerated. To my mind it is quite wrong, and almost indecent, that Ministers of the Crown should be brought before a Select Committee and cross-examined on questions of public policy by counsel, who are paid to be there for the purpose. My belief is that the only proper place for a Debate on policy of that kind is the Floor of this House.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Whether it be quite wrong and indecorous for Ministers to be cross-examined before Select Committees, or not, is one question, but the question here under consideration is that to which I endeavoured to address my remarks. It is the liberty given the petitioner, not the necessity for the promoters to establish expediency. The hon. Member's last remarks seemed to be relating purely to the need to establish expediency and not to the rights of the petitioner. If the promoters must establish expediency then, in order to do so under a Bill like Cable and Wireless, they must put the Financial Secretary into the witness box, which is quite a different thing, surely, from saying that the rights of the petitioner should be restricted.

Mr. Wells

I am sorry that I do not quite follow the hon. and learned Gentleman. The first recommendation of the Report is that subject to any instruction or indication by the House referring the expediency of a hybrid Bill to a Select Committee for investigation and decision, the Second Reading should be considered to remove from the promoters the onus of proving the expediency of the Bill. That, as I understand it, was not controversial. The first 19 paragraphs were agreed to without a Division and the paragraph which covered that particular aspect was paragraph 18.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

What the hon. Gentleman was saying was that he objected really to the Financial Secretary having to give evidence on the Select Committee considering the Cable and Wireless Bill. That was done merely because at that time it was the custom of the promoters to try to establish the expediency of the Measure. If my recollection is right, as I think it is, he was called not by the petitioner but by the promoters—the Government. If the hon. Gentleman is saying he would not like that to happen again because he thinks it is indecorous, then no one, on either side, is saying that that part is necessary in future. That, however, is quite apart from the rights of the petitioner.

Mr. Wells

I may have misapprehended the hon. and learned Member but I understood him to say, on behalf of the Opposition, that the Cable and Wireless precedent would be followed, so far as it lay in the power of the Opposition to follow it, on any future occasion.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Solely as to the rights of the petitioner. That was all.

Mr. Wells

I think that that term is still open to ambiguity. The Opposition view, had it been conceded, would have been to discuss before the Committee the whole range of policy of the Cable and Wireless Bill. The occasion for the Financial Secretary's coming would, of course, have been different. He would not have been one of the witnesses who were called at the start, but probably would have had to be called in reply. It is perfectly clear that, whilst one allows this wide range of Debate before a Select Committee, it must almost inevitably follow that the Minister who is responsible for the public policy must come and explain his public policy before the Committee and will be subject to such cross-examination. It is that possibility against which I, at least, wished to insure.

The hon. and learned Gentleman criticised the drafting of the Report. It is no part of my business here to defend that, but I think that if there were any fault in drafting it lay entirely with the Members of the Committee, of whom I am one, and not with the Clerk, who gave us such valuable help. So far as it lay within his power, this document is a model of what a Select Committee report should be.

I believe there is only this one issue of principle between the two parties. Both sides want the individual who is affected to be able to make his own case clearly and in an untrammelled way. It is only when we come to the question of the making of other people's cases that there is any difference between the two sides of the House.

In one respect the hon. and learned Member for Daventry did less than justice to the Report, in that he appeared to have overlooked paragraph 25, which was not, I think, a disputed paragraph. It states: Nor do your Committee apprehend that, if a petitioner is permitted to traverse the principle of the Bill where his locus standi entitles him to do so, any great complication will arise if his case is upheld.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I think it would be proper if I said that the reason why paragraph 25 was not traversed was that the whole question of principle in this issue arose on the earlier Amendment. When that Amendment had been carried, against the minority on the Committee, obviously it would have been ridiculous to try to amend the rest of the Report to make it conflict with paragraph 20.

Mr. Wells

I accept that entirely. I will, if I may, complete the paragraph: In such a case the Select Committee have power to make a special report stating that, in their view, the hardship inflicted on the petitioner outweighs the advantage likely to accrue to the public if the Bill becomes law, leaving the House to take what action it deems fit. The recommendation of the majority—and, indeed, of the Committee—leaves the Committee free to refer a Bill back to the House if satisfied on evidence that it is impracticable or injurious to the individuals concerned. For my part, I believe that the difficulties anticipated by the other side, in deciding how far in each case the words "locus standi" are to be interpretated, are exaggerated. In practice the commonsense of Members and the experience of the staff of the House will provide a solution. I hope that the House will approve the Report, which was based on evidence collected from a great number of distinguished and learned authorities.

5.8 p.m.

Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)

The House has had the advantage of hearing three hon. Members who sat upon the Select Committee. Speaking as one of the few hon. Members who are intervening who did not sit on that Committee, I should like to express my indebtedness to the Select Committee for their labours and to assure them that I treat with respect any conclusions to which they have come.

I think that the difference between the two sides is on a comparatively narrow field but that it is of great importance. I should like, if I may, to try to explain to the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. W. Wells) the reasons that make me question certain conclusions to which the Select Committee came. The matters to which I shall invite the attention of the House are those summarised by the Committee in paragraph 34 (3) and (4). I am perfectly certain that the majority of the Committee think that by these recommendations they have shortened the proceedings on hybrid Bills and avoided waste of time. Although that was their intention they have not, in my view, achieved it. What they have done will, in fact, cause considerable difficulties both to the Committees which sit and to petitioners and their professional advisers.

In order to make clear the point which I wish to bring before the House, let me state clearly what is a perfectly simple but vital distinction, that is the distinction between questions of who should be allowed to be heard at all, who, that is to say, shall be allowed to appear as a petitioner, and questions of what arguments such a petitioner shall be entitled to advance. On the first question, I make no quarrel with the conclusion of the Committee. I agree, of course, that a petitioner must have a locus standi, but, though we limit those who have a locus standi, it does not in the least follow that we are either shortening the proceedings or serving any useful purpose, if we also seek to limit the arguments which they may seek to bring forward.

In contrast to the hon. Member for Walsall I find nothing derogatory to the dignity of the House or to any Committee that expert argument should be addressed to it. On the precise wording of the Amendment moved in the Committee by my hon. Friend, who is to speak later, it is quite obvious that it would be more appropriate for him to speak than for me, but I wish to say first what I think is wrong in the two principles of the Summary of Recommendations to which I have drawn attention, and then to make quite a short statement of what I believe is the correct principle.

What I object to in sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) is the mention of arguments which "do not exceed his locus standi," and "the limits of the locus standi." These are very difficult conceptions indeed, and will lead to endless argument and waste of time. It is comparatively easy for lawyers and others to decide whether a man has a locus standi or not, but, once it is decided that he has a locus standi, I regard discussion of the extent of his locus standi as a time-wasting affair. It is a difficult legal conception. I am sure that Members opposite will agree with me that those arguments will raise before Committees very difficult questions of what is and what is not admissible evidence.

Now let me state quite clearly, and in far better language than I could choose, what I believe is the right principle which the Select Committee should have adopted. I do not believe that it differs greatly from what they had in mind as to the working of the Committees, but I am afraid that it differs a good deal from the way in which their recommendations will work in fact. I believe that the true principle is stated in page 106 of the Report we are considering, in the Further Memorandum submitted by Mr. Craig Henderson, K.C. If hon. Members will look at the penultimate paragraph on that page they will see what I believe is the right principle, which I should like to read to the House and adopt as my own argument. He stated: I humbly submit that Parliament, on matters between the State and subjects should never close the door against admission of evidence from those whose interests are directly affected, which is directed to prove facts, and put forward arguments on them, which throw light on the expediency or otherwise of accepting the proposals in a Bill. I will not read the remaining sentence of that paragraph, although I equally agree with it.

Mr. W. Wells

May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to look at page 17 of the Report, and then tell the House whether or not he accepts the view. attributed to Mr. Pelham, as far back as 1753. Mr. Pelham says—I quote from Question 73: In matters of public concern no body of men, how respectable soever, have a right to come here and tell us what we ought or what we ought not to do: to attempt it is an attack upon the dignity of Parliament.

Mr. Strauss

Speaking quite ex tempore, and without looking at that quotation, I should say that it is directed to the persons who have the right to come and speak. If I am wrong, I crave leave not to answer such a question without notice.

What I am saying is that I am not in the least criticising the suggestion as to who shall be allowed to be petitioners. My point is that once a man has been allowed to be a petitioner we should not try to create quite new and extremely difficult rules of evidence which will both hamper petitioners in preparing and presenting their case, and, in my view, will greatly embarrass Committees, which will, I know, be most anxious to do justice. I believe that the attempt which is summarised in sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) of paragraph 34 is really an attempt to shorten proceedings which will prove unavailing, and I hold the view that the adoption of the words of Mr. Craig Henderson, which I have quoted, would avoid that difficulty.

In spite of what I said a moment or two ago, possibly it would be as well for me to complete that paragraph of Mr. Craig Henderson's Memorandum, which I quoted. It ends Where the Bill is, in the true sense, a public Bill, the interests affected are so wide that it is impracticable to hear individual objectors, and the debate must be completed on the floor of the House, but on Hybrid Bills this is not the case, and that difference is at the root of the difference in procedure. With that statement by one who is admittedly a master of this branch of the law, I respectfully associate myself, and commend the wisdom of it to the House. I am grateful to the House for allowing me, as one who did not sit on the Committee, and who appreciates their labour, to express my views. I regret very much that the Government have not found it possible to get what I believe would be unanimity by modifying sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) of paragraph 34 on the basis of Mr. Craig Henderson's Memorandum.

5.19 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

I should like to say how much I agree with what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) and others, in appreciation of the work which has been done in connection with this Report. Both those who gave evidence and those who served on the Committee have performed a public service for which the House should be grateful. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield has said, before the Select Committee was set up, there was no regular procedure so far as Hybrid Bills were concerned. In fact, the Committee was set up to advise the House as to what that procedure should be.

The hon. and learned Gentleman has apparently forgotten that the Report is practically unanimous. On only one paragraph does the written document indicate that there was any real difference of opinion.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? I think it is unfair to allow him to proceed on this line. We did put down an Amendment at the first place where a substantial difference of opinion arose. That Amendment was carried against us. Thereafter it would have been necessary to put down. a whole string of other Amendments, in fact to recast the Report. It would have been ridiculous to do that, as the essential Amendment had been carried against us, but it must not be accepted that the rest of the Report was in accordance with the views of my hon. Friend and myself, because it was not.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I must, of course, accept what the hon. Member says. But I have only the Report to go by. I have read it with some care over the weekend and I have noticed that paragraphs 1 to 19 were accepted. without any Amendments being moved and that paragraphs 21, certainly as far as 31, were likewise accepted. Perhaps I may refer to that again, because I would like to make some observations on something which was raised by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd).

The hon. Member had some hard things to say about the Government's acceptance of this Report. Among other things, he said that private rights would be seriously curtailed by the recommendations in the Report, which the Government have accepted with one small modification. He also said that a petitioner could only challenge a Bill in the most unusual circumstances and that a man might be refused the right to give evidence. Does the Report bear out these strictures? Is it a fact that the Motion, if accepted, will cause unfairness to private petitioners? I think that the Lord President showed clearly in his speech that no one on this side of the House would desire to prevent any petitioner who feels aggrieved by a hybrid Bill from putting his case with the utmost force and freedom before the appropriate Committee. But I must say that some Select Committee proceedings have been in the nature of a "Roman Holiday." From the evidence of the Report, I suspect that both the hon. Gentlemen opposite who served on that Committee also agreed that a good deal that happened when the Cable and Wireless Select Committee was sitting should not have been allowed to happen.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Will the right hon. Gentleman be more precise about that? There were two things. One was that the promoter sought to justify the expediency of the Bill. That we are agreed is unnecessary, at least in the future, and also that it was unnecessary then, although it was not declared to be so, because this Report had not been made. Is he saying that Cable and Wireless should not have been entitled to pursue the course they did in petitioning against the Bill?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Yes, Sir, that is my view. I have a fairly lively recollection of what happened then and I am of the view that a great deal was said and a great number of questions put in the course of the Select Committees proceedings which were in a sense usurping the functions of this House. It is obvious that both the hon. Gentlemen shared that view, because they voiced that complaint, by implication at any rate, in the Amendment to paragraph 20 of the Report. If there were time, I could develop this case at greater length.

The criticism that has been levelled against this Motion can be concentrated within very narrow limits, as the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities observed. There is only one particular point—and I am not quarrelling with this—which the Opposition fears may curtail the rights of a petitioner. We think that this is due to a misapprehension and that, on a proper reading of these recommendations. it will be seen that when a hybrid Bill is being discussed upstairs, petitioners will have no fewer rights than they had before, except that they will be unable to go outside their own interests.

On their own showing, both the hon. Gentlemen who were parties to this Report agree that that right of petitioners to traverse the world, if they are so minded, should be curtailed. That is the only real change which the acceptance of these recommendations makes. In proof of that, let me refer to the recommendations themselves. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford asked a very pertinent question which he also put to the Lord President. At different times he was good enough to give way, so that one or other of us could give the assurances he wanted. I am here to repeat those assurances, which seem implicit in the recommendations made by the Committee and set forth on page xiii. Quite obviously, if a petitioner can show that he has a separate special interest, he is entitled under a hybrid Bill to ask if he can come and put his grievance to the Select Committee. There is nothing in these recommendations which robs him of that right. In fact, in more than one paragraph, that right is established and underlined.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

May I ask if there is only one interest affected, can that one interest petition to be excluded from the Bill?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

That is what I am saying. But I would put one question to the hon. Member. Did this right exist under the old system? If it did, it will continue. As I read these recommendations, the only right that will be taken away is the right of any petitioner to go outside his own immediate interests. Again, as I read the Report, and both hon. Gentlemen opposite agree, the petitioner should not be allowed to go right round the world. An ordinary member of the public has no right to come here and put forward his views on matters under discussion. Why then should a petitioner, when he appears before a Select Committee on a hybrid Bill, be allowed that right? Surely his interest is only concerned with the effect that the Bill will have on his property or his life or something in which he personally has a special interest. That right is preserved.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I am trying to follow what the right hon. Gentleman has said. In the first place he said he thought that on the Cable and Wireless Bill the petitioners went outside their proper limits. Now he has said, and I agree, that petitioners, even if they are the only petitioners in the Bill. can do anything proper to protect their own interests. In what respects does he say that Cable and Wireless, who after all do cover a great deal of the world, went outside the protection of their own interests?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I have no wish to turn this into a debate on what happened in the Select Committee proceedings on the Cable and Wireless Bill. I do not think it would be profitable. It is old history. The promoters of that Bill had to establish the expediency of the Measure. Among others, I was put into the witness box. That occasion gave the petitioners against the Measure the opportunity to go well outside the actual interests affected.

Mr. H. Strauss

It is possible for a man to find out whether or not he is allowed to be a petitioner. Assuming that he is allowed to be a petitioner, can the right hon. Gentleman tell me any means by which he and his advisors can discover the meaning of the words: arguments which do not exceed his locus standi." Have such words, or anything like them, appeared in these Rules before?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

There are various points at which a hybrid Bill comes before the House. We have not discussed them today because the point has not arisen; but there are Examiners of these Bills, who are under certain obligations to let the interests who are or may be affected know what is proposed. I think that this point can safely be left to that stage of the proceedings. If any petitioner has a locus standi, I see no likelihood of his being unaware of it.

Mr. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman inadvertently, I am certain, completely misunderstands me. I agree with what he has just said about his being able to appear if he has a locus standi, and I do not criticise it. The only point I criticised in my speech—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with it—is the restriction of the arguments that he is allowed to put forward when he does appear. He must not put forward arguments which exceed his locus standi.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

At present on private Bills, he is so confined to his locus standi. If that does not satisfy the hon. Gentleman, may I draw his attention to the fact that when the petitioner appears and puts his case, as he will have every right to do, it will be for the Select Committee to tell him then whether what he is saying, either in person or through counsel, is or is not in order in the light of the existing circumstances? It will be perfectly easy, generally speaking, for the locus standi of any single petitioner to be established. I see no difficulty in that direction.

I should like to indicate why the Government feel that a petitioner need have no fear of these recommendations, if they are accepted. The first recommendation, which apparently was accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite without any serious objection, states that: Subject to any instruction or indication by the House …"— which makes it very elastic— … referring the expediency of a hybrid Bill to a Select Committee for investigation and decision, the Second Reading should be considered to remove from the promoters the onus of proving the expediency of the Bill. It has been generally agreed that, once this House has agreed by a majority on the expediency of a Bill, the Government themselves should not have to go once more over the whole of that ground before a Select Committee upstairs. Subparagraph (3) recommends: Provided that his arguments do not exceed his locus standi, a petitioner may traverse the principle of the Bill. In those words, I can find no limitation. Provided he has the right to be there and has a case to present, he can traverse the principle of the Bill. He has had that right up to now and we do not propose to take it from him. As far as I know, neither of the representatives of the Opposition on the Committee objected. In fact, they approved of that wording. In proof of that, I turn to the Debate in the Select Committee on paragraph 20 and to the Amendment which was moved by them and defeated. I have taken the trouble to analyse the wording which they desired to be inserted and the wording which was accepted. There is no great difference between the two versions. I find that they said this: In the case of a hybrid bill, Your Committee are of opinion that the limits to which a petitioner should be allowed to go in the course of his arguments and evidence should be the same as those permitted in the case of a private bill. To what extent can a petitioner go in the case of a Private Bill? In paragraph 20 are the words: Even in the case of private bills, it is competent to a committee to restrict petitioners as to the topics they may bring forward. Therefore, even if we permit the full licence and liberty which may obtain when a private Bill is before a Select Committee, in these recommendations we are not limiting a petitioner more than that. In fact, he gets here what he gets on a Private Bill which, by general consent, is considered to be as wide a latitude as anyone should be allowed.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford asked whether a petitioner would be confined in his petition to the question whether the compensation payable to him was or was not sufficient. I can assure him that he need have no fears and that a petitioner will not be so confined. If he has a grievance or a claim in any other direction, he will be able to put it freely. He will not be bound to limit what he has to say or any claim he has to make, solely to the question of compensation.

I think I have answered most of the points that have been made. In summing up, I should like to say that it is our view that these recommendations are reasonable; that the fears which have been expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite have no substance in fact; and that under these recommendations petitioners will be just as free as they always have been, and in some directions more free, to put their point of view, if they have locus standi. The acceptance of the recommendations will do two things. It will regularise the proceedings which is something that I think we all desire. It is high time that this was done.

Secondly, it will cut out what I would describe for want of a better phrase as a lot of dead wood. It is quite obvious that, if there are no petitioners against the Bill, it is absurd to waste time by setting up a Select Committee and sending the Bill to it. I think I carry hon. Gentlemen on the other side with me when I say that it is not right that, when Parliament has decided on the principle of a Bill, the whole of its principles and the whole expediency of the Bill should be traversed again in a Committee upstairs by individuals who have no locus standi on many parts of the Bill. They should be confined to the parts of the Bill which affect them personally or in groups. That being so, I hope that the House, without a Division, will accept the Motion which has been moved by my right hon. Friend the Lord President.

5.41 p.m.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has paid a graceful tribute to those persons outside hon. Members of this House who assisted in preparing this Report. My hon. Friend and I who served on the Committee, would like to be associated with the right hon. Gentleman in that tribute, and would like to thank those who were of very great assistance to us.

When I have said that, I am going to say that I find that the Report itself is self-contradictory, and I do not wish to suggest that that is in any sense the fault of the draftsmen or of any hon. Member who assisted in preparing it. The reason why the Report conflicts with itself is that the majority of hon. Members who supported the Report tried to draw a line which I believe it was impossible to draw. I think they tried to do something which simply could not be done at all, and I hope I may be able to indicate why that is so.

First, I think it is fair to say that, for practical purposes, it is the summary of the Report in paragraph 34 which is important. It is to that summary that the chairman of the Select Committee on a hybrid Bill will normally turn for guidance, and, therefore, it is convenient to deal with our objections to the Report as objections to that paragraph of the summary. The first paragraph is acceptable in all parts of the House, but I think it is important to notice that what it does is to lay down that, when a hybrid Bill has received a Second Reading, the effect of that Second Reading is to shift the onus of proving the expediency of the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate and several hon. Members on the other side have said quite rightly that the Second Reading of a Bill by this House approves the principle of the Bill. May I remind hon. Members opposite that there is some difference between principle and expediency, a thing which they are sometimes apt to forget in other connections? It may well be that the policy which gives rise to a hybrid Bill is acceptable to a majority of the House, but it does not mean to say that, if that policy would inflict too great hardship on sections of the community, it ought to be persisted in, even though it is the right policy, and it is exactly that question which the Select Committee on hybrid Bills has to determine. It is for that reason that we fully accept this first paragraph, and think that it is right that it calls attention to expediency and not principle.

Secondly, perhaps I should point out that there is a certain importance in the use of the word "onus." When we speak of the Government having to discharge the onus of proving something, we do not mean to say that it is conclusively and finally proved. All that they have done is to say that they have discharged the onus which lay upon them to show a prima facie case, and it is then for those who oppose the Bill, the petitioners, to show that, in fact, although that onus has been shifted to them, there is a case against the Bill which would throw the onus back against the Government. I think those who support the Motion before the House do not realise that what this paragraph does is to shift the onus of proof of expediency, and to leave it open to the other side, the petitioners, to disprove expediency and so object to the whole of the Bill.

Paragraphs (5) and (6) of the summary are really consequential on the first paragraph. Paragraph (5) is consequential in that it merely lays down the general rule that, where the onus has been shifted from the promoters to the petitioner, it should be for the petitioner to open against the promoters before the Select Committee. May I draw the attention of the House to these words: (5) The onus of proving expediency having been removed from the promoters, the petitioner should open to the committee, calling such evidence as he wishes. By implication, that means that it is even here laid down that there should be a right on the part of the petitioner to call evidence to disprove that of which the onus has laid on him; in other words, the expediency of the Measure.

Mr. Benson

Would the hon. Gentleman allow me? He has missed out paragraph (2), in which it is laid down that the petitioner cannot argue on matters which cannot give him a locus standi, and that is really the essential thing in this Report.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

That is exactly the point to which I am coming. I am saying that paragraphs (1) and (5) are in conflict with paragraph (2); that (1) and (5) indicate that it is open to the petitioner to oppose the expediency of the Measure, and that, in paragraphs (2), (3) and (4), we find that it is not. Therefore, what has happened is that those who support the Report tried to do something which they found it physically impossible to do, and, when they came to summarise the recommendations in the body of the Report, it was necessary to set conflicting principles side by side.

Paragraph (2) of the summary states that the petitioner is not to argue on the bare grounds of public policy I have no quarrel with that, and I think it would be wholly wrong if a petitioner were to appear before the Select Committee and argue, for example, against the general principle of nationalisation I think that would be wholly wrong, and I do not think that that conception would have support on the other side of the House. I do not think that a petitioner should arrogate to himself a duty which is clearly the duty of a Member of Parliament, but, of course, paragraph (2) has to be read alongside paragraphs (3) and (4). In that connection, we find that the position is wholly different, because whereas paragraph (2) merely says that a petitioner against a hybrid Bill cannot argue on matters which cannot give him a locus standi, in paragraph (3) it is stated: Provided that his arguments do not exceed his locus standi, a petitioner may traverse the principle of the Bill. Again, in paragraph (4) it is stated: The limits of the locus standi, of each petitioner and, therefore, of the arguments which he may properly adduce should be decided, where necessary, by the select committee It will be seen, therefore, that paragraph (2) does not merely prevent a petitioner from arguing various or general questions, but prevents him from arguing special questions unless they are questions regarding his own personal interest in the subject matter of the Bill We on this side of the House think that is too narrow.

I will, if I may, give the House an example showing how, in a particular case, the recommendation is too narrow. I think it would preclude an employer from giving any evidence or from arguing about damage done to his employees or customers. In the case of a hybrid Bill which takes over an industrial concern, the recommendation as set out in these paragraphs would prevent that concern from using any argument to show that the taking over of its business would cause a hardship to those employed by it or to those who had relied upon it in the past for their necessities. Paragraph 22 on page X of the Report dealing with the case of Cable and Wireless says: They would have been entitled to make a full statement of the damage done to their interests and of the hardship inflicted upon them; and they could have challenged the terms of compensation, or sought protection for any of their servants or employees, which was in fact made the subject of a special report by the Select Committee. I do not think that either side of the House would wish to prevent a petitioner calling in aid and pointing out to the House the particular hardship which might be inflicted on its employees or upon the customers' minds. That was certainly not the intention of the majority of the Select Committee, as is clear from the paragraphs I have just quoted. It is necessary to refer to paragraph 20 on page IX—these were the specific words we sought to delete—which says: So in the case of hybrid Bills, your Committee cannot see that any injustice is done to a petitioner, who is allowed to be heard only because his property or interest are affected by restraining him from urging objections which, if they were the only ones he had to urge, would not entitle him to be heard. In other words, it would be impossible for an industrial concern to put forward any case founded on hardship done to its employees. The great mass of wage earners of industrial concerns would have no means whatever of having their case put before a Select Committee if this recommendation were accepted. I do not think that was the intention of those who signed the Report, or of this House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) drew attention to the ridiculous position where two or three concerns in a similar position were objecting to the provisions of a hybrid Bill. In paragraph 23, on page X we find this passage: Before a select committee therefore a petitioner's plea that the injury to his personal interests outweighs the benefit which the whole community will derive from the proposed Bill, assumes an altogether different importance relative to the public issues at stake. That means a wholly different importance from the other type of case referred to in this paragraph, namely, the hybrid Bill for taking over a particular piece of land. It is rather surprising to find that this paragraph implies that where we are concerned only with a smaller public interest, then we should have regard to the private interest, but that where a substantial public interest is concerned, then any private interest can be overridden

Mr. Benson

Is there not an excellent precedent in Mr. Speaker's Ruling that where a whole industry is nationalised the question of hybrid Bills does not arise?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

At the moment we are dealing only with hybrid Bills. The principle laid down here is that if one man's land is taken away from him that man is entitled to object on the ground that it causes hardship, but where two men's land is taken away, those two are not entitled to object because the amount of damage done—

Mr. Benson

I do not accept that as being the interpretation of the paragraph at all. As I read it, what was in the minds of the Committee was that where there was damage—it may be between a dozen individuals who are concerned in a hybrid Bill—if that individual damage outweighs the advantage to the community, then they would have a right to establish. If it were a matter outside the possibility of compensation involving simply sentiment, that would be very different from taking over a great industry like Cable and Wireless where the main interest is purely a shareholding interest.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

It seems to me that the real distinction is that if what is intended to be done is done in pursuance of a political policy, then it must be clear that if it is part of the ordinary course of Government administration there should be a right to object.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Surely, the hon. Gentleman is being unfair to the Report. The fact is that a hybrid Bill is not left to the Select Committee; in a sense it reaches its "hybridity" by stages long before it reaches this House.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I am not certain that I follow the relevance of the right hon. Gentleman's interruption, but I agree, of course, that the views of the Select Committee are not final; all they can do is to make a report to the House.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The Government do not decide whether it is to be a hybrid Bill; another authority decides that. If it is a hybrid Bill, then these regulations will apply, and the fact that it is one man, two men or a dozen who may be interested in it has nothing to do with the matter at all.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has not followed my argument, which is, where you take one man's land he has a right to object whereas I say the Report reads that if you take two men's land then those two men are each precluded from objecting on the ground that they cannot argue the other's case. I am quite certain that the effect of the Report is that if you take a large number of men's land in pursuance of a broad policy, whatever that policy may be, you say to that large number of men, "You shall not object because it is wrong that you should object to the policy of the Government of the day."

Mr. Benson

Surely the difference is this: If you take away the land from a large number of men you are there involved in a very large measure of public policy. It is the weighing of the individual damage against the whole public policy of the Bill which is involved in this question and it can only be where very small public interest is involved that private damage can outweigh that small public interest.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

As the Financial Secretary pointed out just now, all the Committee has to do is to receive evidence. I should have thought that, even holding the views of the hon. Member for Chesterfield, it is still most desirable not to curtail any evidence. If the evidence is considered by the Committee, and the Select Committee report that they feel the case shown is so strong that it is at least doubtful whether the Bill should be proceeded with, having regard to the alleged public advantages, it will be for the Government of the day to make up their mind. I am not questioning that. What I say is that it is wholly wrong to deprive these individuals whose rights are affected by the particular action of the Government from at least offering evidence to show why those rights should not be affected or should be treated in a different way. I believe this is another example of the axe at the root of the tree of liberty. I agree it is not taking out a very large piece—it is a relatively small chip—but all the same, it is a chip and I think this House ought not to allow it to be done.

May I turn to another aspect? Here again there was a difference between two sections of the Select Committee. It has been pointed out already in the course of the Debate that we considered the possibility of a Bill failing to be opposed on account of poverty or absence. Perhaps, again, I might put a concrete case to the House. We might find a case, such as the Trafalgar Estates case, where an annuity for some public benefit was given to a particular family to descend generation after generation, and it may be a question of terminating or otherwise dealing with that annuity. Very often the annuity will be vested in some living person and the next person entitled to it will not yet have been born. The interests of the person at present entitled are obviously in sharp conflict with the interests of the successor. That may very easily happen. The successor in title not having been born, he cannot be served with any notice of the Bill and he cannot possibly petition the Committee. There is a case in point which may easily arise and it is a case which is arising almost every day in the Law Courts. Wherever a question arises concerning a settlement and where there are unborn children who may be interested in the capital of their settlements, the courts always insist that there shall be someone before them who is able to argue on behalf of those unborn children.

It has been suggested here that the only thing petitioners can do against a hybrid Bill is to bring forward evidence. That is not so. The petitioners can not only bring forward evidence but can put their case and, very often, having regard to their own particular circumstances, putting their case is extremely valuable. It seems to me that it is vitally important that this House should make certain that before it affects individual interests that there has always been an opportunity to put a case.

Perhaps I may refer the House to Question No. 503 on page 61. Sir Charles Browne is answering certain questions. I asked him a question in connection with proof being tendered before the Committee on Unopposed Bills, and I said: The proof is only formal unless the Committee require definite proof in the light of what has been said—is not that so? Sir Charles Browne replied: I think Mr. Abraham would support me in saying that I believe there are cases in which the Committee on Unopposed Bills has rejected an unopposed Bill. The report continues with the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford asking: Having asked a question of the petitioners and got no answer?—Yes. It has the value of eliciting something of which even the promoters are ignorant?—Yes. The Chairman then asked: Has it ever happened in the case of a House of Commons Bill?—I cannot say it has happened in my experience but I believe there is on record (Mr. Abraham can confirm it) a case where the Unopposed Bills Committee have rejected an unopposed Bill. By "a House of Commons Bill," I think is meant a hybrid Bill.

That will show that even where there was no opposition at all, a Select Committee, after considering a Bill, saw good reason for saying, "This Bill should not go forward at all." That is much stronger than saying it should be amended in the interest of parties who for some reason or another have been precluded from coming forward. That is not a point of wide importance; I regard it as a relatively small matter, but it is another small chip from the trunk of the tree of liberty. Hon. Members opposite may smile. They may think it is not important. We think every chip means that the tree is less strong, and for that reason we oppose the Motion before the House.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 204; Noes, 89.

Division No. 49.] AYES [6.10 pm.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Evans, John (Ogmore) McEntee, V. La T.
Albu, A. H. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) McGhee, H. G.
Allen, A C (Bosworth) Ewart, R. Mack, J. D.
Attewell, H. C. Fernyhough, E. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
Austin, H. Lewis Follick, M. McLeavy, F.
Awbery, S. S. Gallacher, W MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Ayles, W. H. Ganley, Mrs. C S. MacPherson, T. (Romford)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Gibson, C. W. Mainwaring, W. H.
Balfour, A Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)
Barstow, P. G. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Barton, C. Grey, C. F Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Battley, J. R. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mellish, R. J.
Bechervaise, A. E. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Messer, F.
Benson, G Gunter, R. J. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Berry, H Guy. W. H. Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R
Beswick, F Hale, Leslie Mitchison, G. R.
Binns, J Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Moody, A. S.
Blackburn, A. R. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Blyton, W. R. Hardman, D. R. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Harrison, J. Moyle, A.
Braddock, Mrs E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Haworth, J. Mulvey, A.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hewitson, Capt. M Naylor, T. E.
Brooks, T J (Rothwell) Hobson, C. R. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Holman, P. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Brown, W J. (Rugby) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Oliver, G. H.
Bruce, Maj D. W. T. Horabin, T. L. Paget, R. T.
Burden, T. W. Hoy, J Palmer, A. M. F.
Gastle, Mrs. B. A. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Parker, J.
Champion, A. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Parkin, B. T.
Chater, D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Chetwynd, G. R. Hughes, H. D (W'lverh'pton, W.) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Cobb, F A Hynd, H (Hackney, C.) Pearson, A.
Cocks, F S Irvine, A J. (Liverpool) Piratin, P.
Colman, Miss G. M. Irving, W J. (Tottenham, N.) Popplewell, E.
Cooper, G Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Porter, E. (Warrington)
Cove, W G. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Crawley, A Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Pritt, D. N.
Daggar, G Jenkins, R. H. Prootor, W. T
Daines, P Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Pursey, Comdr. H.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Randall, H. E.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Keenan, W Ranger, J.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kenyon, C. Reeves, J.
Deer, G. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Reid, T (Swindon)
Debbie, W Kinley, J. Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Dodds, N. N Kirby, B. V Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Driberg, T. E. N. Leslie, J. R. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Dumpleton, C W. Levy, B. W. Rogers, G. H. R.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Royle, C.
Edwards, Rt Hon. N. (Caerphilly) Longden, F Sargood, R.
Evans, Albert (Islington, W.) Lyne, A. W. Scott-Elliot, W
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) McAdam, W. Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Heletts)
Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Tolley, L. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Simmons, C. J Turner-Samuels, M. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Skinnard, F. W. Ungoed-Thomas, L. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Smith, C. (Colchester) Usborne, Henry Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Vernon, Maj. W. F. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Viant, S. P. Willis, E.
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst) Wills, Mrs. E. A
Sparks, J. A. Wallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon A
Stamford, W. Warbey, W. N. Woods, G. S.
Sylvester, G. O. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.) Yates, V F.
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Weitzman, D. Young, Sir R (Newton)
Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Wells, P. L. (Faversham) Youngar, Hon. Kenneth
Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Wells, W T (Walsall) Zilliacus, K
Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Thurtle, Ernest Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Titterington, M. F Wigg, George Mr. Hannan and Mr. Wilkins.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Astor, Hon. M. Head, Brig. A. H. Pickthorn, K.
Baldwin, A. E. Hinchingbrooke, Viscoum Pitman, I. J.
Baxter, A. B. Hogg, Hon. Q. Prescott, Stanley
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hollis, M. C Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Bossom, A. C. Howard, Hon. A. Raikes, H. V.
Bower, N. Hurd, A. Ramsay, Maj. S
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Keeling, E. H. Renton, D
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Lambert, Hon. G. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Lancaster, Col. C. G. Ropner, Col L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)
Butcher, H. W. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Smithers, Sir W.
Carson, E. Linstead, H. N. Spearman, A. C. M.
Challen, C Lipson, D. L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Channon, H. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Low, A. R. W. Studholme, H. G.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Teeling, William
Crowder, Capt. John E. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Cuthbert, W. N. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Darling, Sir W. Y. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Touche, G. C.
Digby, S. W Maitland, Comdr J. W. Vane, W. M. F.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Manningham-Buller, R. E Walker-Smith, D.
Drewe, C. Marlowe, A. A. H. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Erroll, F. J. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Mellor, Sir J.
Gage, C. Morris-Jones, Sir H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gridley, Sir A. Nicholson, G. Brigadier Mackeson and
Grimston, R. V. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Colonel Wheatley.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That the recommendations contained in the Report from the Select Committee on Hybrid Bills (Procedure in Committee) in Session 1947–48 be approved, subject to the qualification that a Bill against which no Petition has been lodged may be committed either to a Committee of the whole House or to a Standing Committee, as the House may determine.