§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Northants, South)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 22, to leave out from "representatives," to the end of line 24, and to insert:to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and their substitutes.I hope that the Government will look favourably upon this Amendment, which does nothing more than carry out the intention that they expressed upon the Second Reading. The Under-Secretary of State then said that the object of the Bill was to protect the rights and privileges of those who attend the Council of Europe as members of the Consultative Assembly. He said that at the beginning of his speech. If the Amendment is accepted, it will give effect to what he said. As the Bill now stands it goes far beyond the Council of Europe and the agreement which is set out in the general agreement of privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe.
When one looks at that agreement, one sees that the privileges and the immunities are in two categories. The first is the category of representatives of the Consultative Assembly and their substitutes, and the second is of officials of the Council. There is no reference to staffs or officials of the representatives. Therefore, there is no need for the Bill to go beyond that point, if it is the intention, as the hon. Gentleman said, to protect the rights and privileges of those attending the Council. As the Bill now stands it extends the earlier Act to cover representatives, whether of the Governments concerned or not, oron any organ of such an organisation.What does that mean? If our Amendment is accepted it is clear that representatives from this country, whether they are representatives of the Government or not, will be entitled to the protection given under the Bill. I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he will now give me the answer to the question that I put to him on the Second Reading: If the Bill is intended to apply to any other organisa- 2364 tion than the Council of Europe and the Consultative Assembly, what organisations have the Government in mind? If they have none in mind, then the extension of the Bill beyond what is necessary is wrong. If they have any in mind we should at least be told what they are, and why, in the Government's view, they are not covered by existing legislation.
I have never received a satisfactory answer to the question: What is meant by an organ of an organisation? It is a term which was first used—I may be wrong about this—in the agreement referring to the United Nations, but there was no definition of it. Is it something which has a corporate capacity? Is it something quite distinct from a committee? What constitutes the organ of an organisation? Has that expression any legal significance? We ought to be told something more about the matter.
I would draw the attention of the Committee to this matter: Whereas the Agreement relating to the Council of Europe refers just to those two categories of representatives and their substitutes, and officials of the Council of Europe, the Bill not only coversrepresentatives (whether of Governments or not) on any organ of such an organisation,but alsomembers of any committee of such an organisation or of an organ thereof.The Bill is, therefore, drawn to cover both representatives and members, which obviously implies that we shall have not officials but members of the organisation or of an organ thereof who are not representatives of this country; not representatives, whether they are of Governments or not, but something quite distinct. What is meant by the expression "members of any committee" as distinct from "representatives"? If the "representatives" are "members of the committee" the words in line 23 "members of any committee" are unnecessary because they are already covered.
I suggest that the Bill as drafted means that under it diplomatic privileges and immunities can be given to people who are on committees as members of the committees, but who are not representatives of this country or of any other country. There is nothing in the general agreement to that effect. Why is the hon. Gentleman seeking in this respect 2365 to go beyond the terms of the Agreement? I should be glad if he will deal with that point.
I note that there is no reference in that Agreement to committees of the Council of Europe or the Consultative Assembly which sit when the Consultative Assembly is not in session. There is no reference in that Agreement to any extension of diplomatic privileges or immunities to people who attend such meetings on such committees. It might be that the intention of the words to which I have referred in subsection (2) is to enable protection to be given to those serving on such committees when the Consultative Assembly is not in session, but I do not think that can be right because even though they would be "members of the committee" they would still be "representatives," and therefore the words "members of any committee" are really unnecessary. Either they are completely unnecessary or they are intended to cover something which has not been disclosed to the Committee or to the House. As the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) will agree, a distinction is drawn in subsection (2) between "representatives" on the one hand and "members of the committee" on the other.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. and learned Gentleman will, no doubt, have an opportunity of making his own speech in due course. If "members of any committee" also means "representatives", the words "members of any committee" are completely unnecessary.
I now come to the penultimate point on the Bill as it is now drafted. It reads:Members of any committee of such an organisation or of an organ thereof …Apparently we can have an organ of a committee of an organisation. What is meant by that? It goes on:and their official staffs.There is no reference at all in the Agreement of the Council of Europe, Command Paper 7780, to the official staffs of representatives of this country on the Council of Europe. There is only a reference to the official staff of the Council of Europe. As I hope to be able to point out later, there is no reference in the Bill to the 2366 official staff of the Council of Europe, and in that respect the Bill does not carry out the Agreement into which His Majesty's Government have entered. Why do we find the words "official staffs" here? We were told on Second Reading that the object of the Bill was to carry out the Agreement which had been entered into.
I have endeavoured to point out some respect in which the Bill clearly goes beyond the Agreement. The Opposition are in favour of the implementation of the Agreement, but no case has yet been made out by the Government for extending diplomatic privileges and immunities beyond the limits set in that Agreement. It is for that reason that we move our Amendment, which will have one effect alone and that is to bring the Bill completely into line with the Agreement into which the Government have entered.
I asked a question on Second Reading. I did not receive a reply to it, but I am getting quite accustomed to that. I wanted to know if, with the Bill as drafted, diplomatic privileges could be extended to our representatives on the Joint Postal Union. Can they be? Would the principal Act as extended by the Bill enable diplomatic privilege to be given to representatives on international organisations such as the International Federation of Trade Unions? I think the answer to that is in the negative, but I should be glad to hear what the Government's answer is. We did not hear it during the Second Reading Debate. If the hon. Gentleman meant what he said on Second Reading he ought to accept the Amendment, which does nothing more or less than carry out the intentions expressed by the Government on Second Reading.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)
An Amendment of mine which has not been called was in a completely opposite sense to the one I am now supporting. I tabled my Amendment in an inquisitive form because I wanted to find out what the Bill meant. I did not discover it last Friday when I had not had the advantage of reading the interesting document to which many references were then made. I am not quite certain that I admire that document as much as does my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller). We want to be quite clear to 2367 whom we are giving these important advantages. We do not yet know their range. We shall not know that until we have the Order in Council. We do not yet know how far "C.D." will be extended. The document is a little misleading. It is an international document, and in it are used phrases which we may understand but which foreigners may not understand in the same sense.
There is a reference in paragraph 14 to freedom from official interrogation and freedom from arrest for anything that may be said at meetings of the Consultative Assembly. If other countries all play their part and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends on both sides of the House go to Strasbourg, they will naturally expect to have all these privileges in the countries through which they travel. I hope we shall have some explanation of what privileges they will have, because if ever I should have the misfortune to be appointed to Strasbourg, and I am travelling through Belgium in my motor car with G.B. on one plate and C.D. on another, and I am stopped by a constable and I produce a copy of this Bill, which will then be an Act—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman's remarks would be more effective on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir H. Williams
I am sorry, Sir Charles. I did not mean to go so wide but I was dealing with the point of who are affected and, particularly, delegates to Strasbourg. However, I was wandering, and I apologise because I never like breaking the Rules. [Laughter.] Well, I am seldom called to Order at any rate.
My hon. and learned Friend raised the question of the scope of the Bill. He talked about the International Federation of Trade Unions and the International Postal Union—a body which seems to survive every war. There is also the International Copyright Conference. I am not certain that that is ad hoc on each occasion. In 1928 it was my duty to instruct our delegates to the conference then held in Rome. If people travel on an occasion like that, are they to be given these privileges? It is a matter of great importance 2368 Throughout the year a great many international gatherings take place in which governments and parliaments are involved, and we want to make sure who will have the great privileges which this Bill will confer unless the Amendment, which I support entirely, is carried, as it ought to be.
My hon. and learned Friend referred to an organ. In the Interpretation Act—which I am certain hon. Gentlemen representing the Foreign Office have studied—there is no definition of an organ. My hon. and learned Friend tried to find out what an organ was but did not seem to get much encouragement from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I looked up a dictionary which said that an organ is a thing usedin Quires and Places where they singI do not know if that is what is meant—
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Davies)indicated dissent.
§ Sir H. Williams
It is no use the Under-Secretary shaking his head, because that does not impress me. There is no definition Clause in this Bill, so we do not know what an organ means. Supposing it happened, to give a frivolous example, that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South and myself were appointed to serve as public relations officers to the Consultative Assembly. We should then become an organ and if we asked hon. Gentlemen behind us to act as our staff we should all receive this privilege It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite trying to smile their way out of the difficulty in which they have involved themselves. In Acts of Parliament we have to be precise. We want to know what the Bill means, what the words we propose to leave out mean and, until we are satisfied, it may be the case that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not get the Bill in the form in which they have presented it to the Committee.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
I wish to support the Amendment. In this subsection the Government have taken power to do almost anything by Order in Council and have justified it by the declaration that they intend to do practically nothing. It is a steam roller, admittedly to crush a gnat, but it is a steam roller.
2369 This Amendment seeks to convert the subsection into an instrument more appropriate to its purpose. It is alleged by the Government that the purpose of the subsection is limited as regards the organisation concerned—namely, the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe—as regards the scope of the privileges to be conferred—which are those set out in Articles 13 to 15 of the General Agreement—and as regards the period during which those immunities are to run—which, in the case of two out of three of them, is only the period of sitting of the Consultative Assembly.
It is our contention that those limitations should be written into the Bill or else, if further purposes are to be served, that they should be clearly stated to the Committee and written into the Bill. After all, in the two Acts which this Bill is amending the purpose served, though not circumscribed in the terms of those Acts themselves, was clearly stated either in the Preamble or in the Title. In this case there is no such circumscription.
I would point out one difficulty in which the Government have involved themselves in the drafting of this subsection by not adhering to the provisions of the Agreement which they are purporting to implement. The Agreement says that these privileges are to be accorded to representatives and their substitutes whereas, as I read the subsection, there is no power under it for the substitute of a representative to receive any privileges or immunities whatever. Perhaps the Minister of State would refer to that difficulty, if it is one, and would also take it as an illustration of the problems which arise in going wide of the purpose which the Measure overtly aims at achieving.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I had not intended to take part in this Debate, but in the course of the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) he seemed to be seeking my assistance for the form of interpretation that he was trying to apply to this matter.
I have been looking at the wording of Clause I (2) and also scanning the terms of the Amendment. Apparently, the intention of the hon. and learned Member is a precautionary one, and to that extent I sympathise with him. One wants to 2370 distribute diplomatic privilege and immunity with great care and with the necessary restrictions, in order to ensure that it should not operate where it is not intended, and particularly that it should not lead to abuses of a nature which might be singularly detrimental to this country and to the work that it is seeking to assist.
The hon. and learned Member, so far as his forensic interpretation of the present position is concerned, does not disagree that organisations, and the specific organisation envisaged now, should have these diplomatic immunities and privileges.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to be quite accurate, as I am sure he does, may I say that we do not disagree in the least with the representatives on the Council of Europe and their substitutes having the privileges and immunities set out in the General Agreement, Command Paper 7780.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
So I follow. But then we are working on premises already existing, which the Amendment does not seek to remove in any way. Those premises are these: that under the previous Acts, those of 1944 and 1946, which are already operating, certain organisations are brought in; there is no doubt about that. As I follow it, the hon. and learned Member is not in any way objecting to that. Therefore, I am wondering what distinction he sees in regard to the particular Assembly which he has in mind and these other matters that are already covered by the Acts of 1944 and 1946.
I cannot see the distinction, and I should like to say why. The Statutes already in force give cover to representatives and members of committees—there does not appear to be any doubt about that; and, of course, it is commonsense. If we are to say that we can use an organisation for certain work, and that by that very user diplomatic privilege 2371 and immunity are to be conferred upon it, it obviously follows that all the instruments or organs—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I will come to that in a moment—or agencies, representatives, committees or members of committees, who are to carry out, and who necessarily must carry out, the functions of this organisation, which, after all, is only a name, just as a corporate body has to employ its representatives and agents; if they are to carry out those functions at all, it follows necessarily that they can only be carried out through certain human instruments and certain agencies and organs.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Would the hon. and learned Member say where he finds anything in the Bill giving any privileges or immunities to the officials of the Council of Europe?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
It is in connection with subsection (2), if I may say so, with respect, that the hon. and learned Member's mind is a little obscure, as is that also, I think, of the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), about "organ." From its introductory words it is perfectly clear that subsection (2) sets out to say that the same privileges as are envisaged there as being contained in the two Acts of 1944 and 1946 are now to be transferred in the way that the later words indicate; and that undoubtedly embraces committees and members of committees.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Just one moment—noise does not improve the argument. That, of course, is a logical, businesslike, commonsensible and inevitable method of implementing and administering this organisation. There is no other way of doing it.
If I thought for a moment—and if I may say so with the fullest sense of responsibility—that this was at all a higgledy-piggledy, irresponsible way of dealing with the matter, or even if there were a risk, and if the hon. and learned Member could indicate clearly and emphatically that there was a risk, that the language being used might be so flexible, 2372 so wide or so accommodating as to bring in people or instruments whom it was never intended, and who ought not to be allowed, to be brought in, then I would begin to see the point which the hon. and learned Member, apparently, wants to make by his Amendment. But there is really no case for saying that. As I see it from its practical angle, all that the subsection seeks to do—and it seems to me to be a perfectly proper purpose—is to confer, where it is essential to do so, upon certain instruments, agencies, committees or persons, the power and the right, the immunity and the privilege to carry out certain functions that are absolutely sine qua non to the administering of this organisation and its work.
The hon. Member for Croydon, East, has asked me several times about the definition of "organ." I am quite satisfied that the hon. Member is just making heavy weather for nothing. He knows very well what the word means and a fortiori he knows what it means in this context, because it is a perfectly clear dictionary in itself as to what the word "organ" here imports.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Let me finish my answer. What it means, of course, is obvious to anyone who wants to see it and is even clear to the hon. Member himself, who does not want to see it. The wording of the subsection says:or of an organ thereof and their official staffs. …The context makes it clear, beyond any doubt at all, that it is merely—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
If the hon. Member would contain himself for a moment—this is not a bubble to burst; it is an argument to reason out. The meaning is obvious. The term "organ" here means agency, instrument. The mere fact that the hon. Member pretends that he does not understand it, and obviously dislikes it, does not alter the collocation of the term.
Therefore, on all those grounds, I think that the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South, whose forensic capacity I admire very much, whose discernment is usually very well worth 2373 following, must himself see that the Amendment which he seeks to put forward really is not a very substantial one and in those circumstances the Committee ought not to accept it.
§ Sir H. Williams
May I ask the hon. arid learned Member one question before he sits down? I have gathered some idea of the meaning of "organ" from what he has said. I now also understand that an organ is known as a wind instrument.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I was going to suggest that to the hon. Member, but I thought it would be so obvious to him that there was no need to do so.
§ Mr. Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
It seemed to me that the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) was carrying us farther and farther out to sea on the question of what is meant of the present wording of the Clause. As I understood the effect of his remarks, he was suggesting that an organ might be a committee. If, however, a committee is, by definition, an organ, then what is a committee of an organ? If there is to be such an endless succession, there is no limit to the extension of derivative bodies to which this privilege may be extended by Order in Council.
The reason why we have moved the Amendment is clear. We object to the principle of diplomatic privilege being extended by Orders in Council based upon wording which, in itself, is incoherent. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester said that if we could show him that the existing words were so flexible or wide in their meaning that there was doubt about the Orders in Council which might properly be based upon them, he would support the Amendment. But what wider kind of flexibility could there be than obscurity?
One very natural and usual meaning of the word "organ" a meaning attributed to it almost daily, is, for example, a newspaper. Hon. Members on this side might, and commonly do, refer to the "Daily Herald" as the organ of the Socialist Party. Are we to assume that, for example, a periodical or a newspaper of some kind which is issued by a committee of the Council of Europe is an organ to which diplomatic privilege could be extended by an Order in Council under the Bill?
2374 Those are the kind of uncertainties which have prompted us to move this Amendment because, while we are reconciled as a matter of inevitability to this privilege being extended by Order in Council—which seems to be the way things happen nowadays—it seems necessary that those Orders in Council should be based on words which are specific and ascertainable in their meaning so that we know the legislative foundation for future extensions which may be remote in time and logic from what we are passing today. This legislative foundation, which is more or less the last opportunity this House has of deliberating the matter, should be clearly understood by hon. Members whenever they see these draft Orders laid on the Table of the House.
I urge on the Government another reason for accepting the Amendment. Last week the hon. Members who represent the Foreign Office invited us to consider, within the terms of the Bill, the context of the Agreement of last September. I would remind them that although that memorandum is clearly in their minds in putting forward this Bill and drafting it, it is in no sense a part of the law on the subject, unless in some way we embody it in this Bill. I appreciate that at the moment the two things are naturally seen together. But, once the Bill is passed and Orders in Council are made under it and become the law of the country, they are interpreted in courts where this agreement would not be referred to, and where certainly it could not be embodied in any way in argument on the meaning of this Clause. I appreciate that it is unlikely that any particular Order in Council made under the Act will be challenged in the courts, but we must legislate on the assumption that at some future date some real significance will attach to the precise scope of the Clause and someone will want to challenge in the courts whether an Order in Council was properly and legally made under this Clause.
It is our duty today to see that anything which ought to be included in the actual law on the subject, namely, the terms of this Bill, is put in. It is no good leaving the Agreement as something vaguely in the background, which explains to us today why something is being done but which will not be available for argument 2375 in court on a future occasion if any of these Orders is challenged.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gage (Belfast, South)
There is one point which the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) made, and with which we can all agree. That is that when we grant diplomatic privileges it is no light thing. It is, therefore, important that we should all know precisely to what bodies or persons we are granting those privileges. That was underlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Bell). When one looks at the wording of this Clause it is quite impossible to understand how far we are empowering Orders in Council to be made in respect of different bodies. If I may say so with respect to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester, when he had finished clearing up the matter I found myself in complete confusion as to what the Clause meant. So I now turn to another lawyer, the Minister of State and I am happy to do so when I recall that he and I became members of our circuit at the same time. Now, for the first time, I am able to ask his legal opinion without paying anything for it.
What he must tell us is what precisely these words mean. How far are we extending the provisions of the Act of 1944. which we are extending,to representatives (whether of governments or not) on any organ of such an organisation and members of any committee of such an organisation or of an organ thereof and their official staffs."?Cannot that mean, taken with the 1944 Act, that Orders in Council can be made to cover such non-Parliamentary matters as an international organisation of beekeepers, or poultry keepers, who happen to come together as members of different countries and meet either in this country, France. or other places?
I appreciate that Orders in Council need not be made to cover such bodies, but in fact we are giving power for such Orders in Council to be made and for the Executive to make them, if they are so minded. I am not suggesting that they would do so, but it is an important power which we ought to regard most jealously. It might well be that a foreign gentleman would be meeting an English 2376 gentleman here at an unofficial conference to discuss international affairs and would ask for exemption from taxation, or something of that nature. Cannot that be done under this provision? The wording is completely obscure; I cannot tell whether it can be done, or not.
I would like to know from the hon. Gentleman whether, in his view, it might extend to such completely non-governmental bodies. I have mentioned two such bodies and hon. Members can mention many others. I see the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Paton) present. He might suggest a conference of hairdressers. Might it not extend to them? If the hon. Gentleman thinks it will not extend to them, will he tell us why not, so as to make it quite clear? Unless he can make the subsection quite clear I shall press that it be clarified, as I think it will be, by 'the introduction of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I think the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) knows that I personally look forward to his interventions, but I was a little afraid lest the discussion, at least for part of this afternoon, might become what might be called a lawyers' field day. It is rather important that we should try to express in less technical legal language what the Amendment seeks to do. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants. South (Mr. Manningham-Buller) made it quite clear that there is no difference of opinion in the Committee as to the obligation, the need and the desire for carrying out our undertakings in respect of members of the Council of Europe. Indeed, the Under Secretary of State himself put the matter perfectly plainly on Second Reading. when he said:At the outset I should make it quite clear that it is only in connection with the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe that any additional powers are now required and are now being sought."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March. 1950; Vol. 472, c. 1410.]That is perfectly clear and no one has any possible objection to the granting of those powers in respect of the Council of Europe. But I still do not understand why we cannot determine for what reason these obscure phrases appear in the Bill. I hope that the Minister of State at least will agree that what is proposed in the 2377 Amendment, namely, in line 22, to leave out from "representatives," to the end of line 24, and to insert:to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and their substitutes.makes the Bill a great deal clearer than the extraordinary phrase:on any organ of such an organisation and members of any committee of such an organisation …Why cannot the Bill refer specifically to the Council of Europe as in the words of the Under-Secretary? That is all that this Amendment seeks to do.
The only other point which ought to be cleared up relates to the fact that there is perhaps some uncertainty about the position of members of the various committees. The Minster of State referred to this point on Second Reading, but not very specifically. I think I am correct in saying that the General Affairs Committee of the Consultative Assembly meets next week at Strasbourg. I take it that my hon. and learned Friend is perfectly right in suggesting that without any further Amendment any member of that Committee would be covered under the agreement contained in Cmd. 7780 because he is a member of the Assembly, although the Assembly is not in session? [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] That is the point I wish to have cleared up. It is not in accordance with the spirit of the Agreement if we grant privileges and immunities to representatives to the Council of Europe when the Assembly is sitting and not to those same representatives who attend committees at the time of the year when the Assembly is not sitting. I hope that the Minister of State realises that we are not being contentious in proposing this Amendment and that all we wish to do is to make the Bill carry out the terms of the Agreement, no more and no less.
§ Mr. Marlowe (Hove)
My hon. Friends have been a little hard on the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), who made a speech so much in support of our case on this Amendment. Our argument is that the language of this Clause as it stands is unintelligible. It was to a large degree unintelligible before the hon. and learned Member contributed to this Debate. After he had done so it became utterly unintelligible, which is the whole point which we have been making. We seek to clear 2378 up, by our Amendment, the obscurity of this Clause. It will be recalled that the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester said that as the Clause stood it was a sine qua non that the words which are already in the Clause should be included and that, therefore, a fortiori they should be included. I do not think that the obscurity of the English in the Clause has been in any way repaired by the irrelevance of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Latin.
We have the perfectly laudable object of making this Clause say what it is intended to say. In moving the Second Reading last week the Under-Secretary of State assured us that the purpose of the Bill was to give diplomatic immunity to representatives attending the Council of Europe. This Amendment has precisely that effect and nothing else. On that occasion I pointed out to the Minister of State that unless some words of this kind, which gave the Bill this very object, were included we must draw the sinister conclusion that there was some further object behind this Bill than merely to give diplomatic immunity to those persons. The Clause, as drafted, is obviously much wider. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Gage) has referred to some kinds of organisations which could be covered.
I want to be assured that this Bill will go no wider than giving the immunity which is sought for the representatives to the Council of Europe, an object with which we on this side of the Committee sympathise and in achieving which we are prepared to support the Government. But we are not prepared to support the Government in going wider than that. I hope that our Amendment will be accepted as carrying out what the Under-Secretary said was the very purpose of the Bill.
It is accepted that we should set some limitation to the extent to which diplomatic privilege is granted to people, particularly in this country, and the Bill can only deal with diplomatic privilege so far as it affects people in this country. There has been an alarming increase in the extent to which diplomatic privilege has been granted in the last few years. One has only to see the vast number of cars driving around London with "CD" at the back of them. I would not for a moment ask that that identification should be taken away because it is an 2379 advantage; it does help one to distinguish, in many cases, which is the back and which is the front. Otherwise, I can see no advantage in it at all. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment to ensure that limitations are imposed in the sense in which we seek to impose them.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)
I hope that I shall be able to satisfy hon. Members opposite why it is that in seeking to achieve what I think we all appreciate is the same object—we are all agreed broadly on the object—we prefer the method we have adopted in this Bill rather than the method which is proposed in the Amendment. In Clause 1 (2), coupled, as it is with consequential Amendments in the Schedule, which go into the matter in detail, we seek to remove certain words from the existing legislation and replace them with certain others which we think are more appropriate to cover not merely the Council of Europe but other bodies previously covered by the old wording.
The Opposition Amendment seeks to retain the old wording and merely to add to it the brief phrase:to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and their substitutes.I should like to explain why we do not want to retain the old wording and merely add that phrase to it, and why we think that the old wording should be brought up to date, because that is what it is sought to do. Hon. Members will appreciate that the basis of the present text dates from 1944, when the very earliest international organisations were just coming into being. I think I am right in saying that U.N.R.R.A. was the body mainly in contemplation. As soon as that was broadened into a large number of other organisations connected with the United Nations which were being formed in 1946 it was found that amendments were needed. As we go along and see the type of organisation which is coming into being it is not surprising that we should from time to time find that particular phrases have become out of date.
I would refer to the phrases we are seeking to replace and to what we are seeking to put in their place. In present legislation there is a provision—I 2380 am paraphrasing—under which His Majesty may by Order in Council confer immunities upon a number of people, and then come these words:… upon any person who is the representative of a member government on the governing body or any committee of the organisation …I should like to take the two parts of that phrase separately. I take first what I consider to be rather the secondary point, which relates to the second half of the phrase:on the governing body or any committee of the organisation …We are seeking to replace those words by some of the words which have been rather severely criticised in the Debate, by using the much more general words:on any organ of such an organisation …We then refer to committees.
May I ask hon. Members to consider, in relation for instance to the Council of Europe, the applicability of the existing words:governing body or any committee.I do not think it is very easy for any of us to see, and it certainly does not appear on the face of the words, what would be the governing body of the Council of Europe. An organisation of the type of the Council of Europe was not envisaged when those words were used; and even in 1946 those words from the 1944 Act had already become somewhat obscure in relation to the United Nations. So it was necessary in Section 2 of the 1946 Act to put in a detailed provision explaining what in relation to the United Nations organisation would be the governing body. Already at that stage the words had become obscure, because of the entirely different type of body, and it seems to us that these words have become an anachronism.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The phrase, "the governing body" is not really material. The Council of Europe would come in under the title of an organisation. The reference by the hon. Gentleman to "governing body" does not in the least meet the arguments from this side of the Committee against the present words.
§ Mr. Younger
With respect, I cannot agree with that. The organisation is the Council of Europe, and we have to make it clear what subordinate constituent parts 2381 of that are involved. What was attempted in 1944 was to use words which were reasonably applicable to the organisation then in contemplation. Already that requires a further definition in order to meet the case of the United Nations bodies in 1946, and that is why Section 2 (a) of the 1946 Act was put in. I would suggest that now it is quite inappropriate to use those words in relation to the Council of Europe.
It has turned out to be equally misleading in relation to the International Labour Organisation, because in the charter of that organisation, which dates from well before all this legislation, the term "governing body" is in fact used in an entirely different sense from what was contemplated in relation to U.N.R.R.A. "Governing body" in these new series of Acts is intended to mean—I do not know how to describe it—the major organisation which in the case of the United Nations was said to be the General Assembly. But in the case of the I.L.O. the term "governing body" is in use for the sort of executive committee. It is not used for the conference, which is the full organisation of the I.L.O., but for the smaller body. I think I am on firm ground in suggesting that the old words as they stand, and as they would stand if the Opposition Amendment were accepted, are in fact misleading in the new circumstances.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Where does the hon. Gentleman say that the words "governing body" appear in the earlier legislation?
§ Mr. Younger
They appear in Section I (2) of the 1944 Act as amended. Hon. Members will remember that when the 1946 Act was brought in we consolidated the 1944 Act with the Amendment in the Second Schedule. If hon. Members will consult the 1946 Act they will find contained in the Second Schedule of the 1946 Act this consolidation of the 1944 Act and the 1946 Act. It is at the bottom of the second page of the Schedule.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I thought that was the only reference, but he will see if he reads on that the words are:and upon any person who is the representative of a member government on the governing body or any committee of the organisation.2382 Obviously we have to extend that to representatives who are not representatives of the Government. But we should bear in mind that we have here already reference to the committees of the organisation. Why should we want to change it now to introduce the organisation of the committees?
§ Mr. Younger
In replacing these words all we are seeking to do is to find a formula which will cover the constituent elements of the relevant organisations. They are known by different terms an assembly in one, a council in another and a sub-committee in a third. There are many different terms which can be used, and what we are seeking to do is to find a formula which would be apt to cover all the constituent elements of these international organisations, by whatever term they may happen to be called in the particular statute.
Those hon. Members who are familiar with international organisations since the war will agree that the term "organ," of which so much has been said today, is one which is now pretty fully accepted in the world of international organisations as being a generic term to cover all possible elements—whether it be sub-committee, committee, council, assembly, or whatever it may be. It is a generic term.
As I say, these are rather minor points, compared with the larger point which concerns the earlier words I quoted, namely, the conferring of immunities "upon any person who is the representative of a member Government." Those are the words in existing legislation which we wish to change. So far as the Council of Europe is concerned, that phrase is sufficient to cover the representatives on the Committee of Ministers, because they are representatives of a member Government. But it is not, and I think this will be fully appreciated, sufficient to cover the representatives on the Consultative Assembly who are not representatives of the Government.
In their Amendment the Opposition seek to cover that by adding the words on the Order Paper. I am being perfectly frank when I say that we seek to do it by altering the existing general phrase and putting it in a new form which will cover representatives on the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe but which does not, in turn, entirely tie us to 2383 that particular body. The proposal is that whenever it is desired to add any group, whether it be general representatives on the Consultative Assembly or any other set of people there will be an Order in Council where the terms of definition will be precisely set out, and that will come before this House.
§ Mr. Younger
Perhaps I might be allowed to continue, because this is a rather complicated argument. In addition to covering the Consultative Assembly the words which we seek to use,representatives (whether of Governments or not)will help to clear up the ambiguity which has become very awkward, on account of the creation of this new body the Council of Europe, in connection with certain other bodies, and in particular the I.L.O. There are already persons who attend the I.L.O. who are not in fact governmental representatives. This is a very complicated point, but they have a different status according to whether they are on the I.L.O. in the major or minor body. In one case they are representing their States and in the other they are not, so that it is a very complicated legal point.
It has been considered possible in the past to interpret the phrase in the present legislation very broadly so that it should cover all the members of I.L.O. I am advised that lawyers believe that to be a legitimate interpretation although it seems to me a somewhat long-stretching of the words used.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
Would that affect the meaning of "official staffs" which appears twice. Could the I.L.O. staff be included as "official staff"?
§ Mr. Younger
I think that would be the effect. We are trying to get more precise definitions than we had in the past. It has been considered in the past just legitimate to stretch the words as I have suggested. Now, with the necessity, in connection with the Consultative Assembly, of making a really clear distinction between those who are representatives of Governments and those who are representatives of their countries but not of Governments. we would meet a real difficulty in con- 2384 tinuing to stretch the meaning of the words. The proviso to the Schedule of the Act, 1946, states:Provided that the Order in Council shall not confer any immunity or privilege upon any person as the representative of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or as a member of the staff of such a representative.Now that there is a distinction to be drawn between immunities which we wish to make available to people in the United Kingdom who are representatives on the Consultative Assembly, while still excluding under this proviso the granting of any immunity to a representative of His Majesty's Government, it becomes most important to clear up this definition.
I do not think that we can hope to continue to interpret in a broad sense the words "representative of a Member Government" in one case so as to cover these people at the International Labour Organisation, and at the same time interpret the same phrase when we come to the proviso in a different way. We must attempt to clear up this matter. We hope that, by the alteration to the wording which we propose, we shall be able to clear up the matter. It is for those reasons, very largely, that I cannot advise the Committee to accept this Amendment, which would preserve the old and, as we think, wholly inappropriate wording and would simply add to it this one phrase to refer to the Consultative Assembly.
I should like to give other reasons why we think that the method proposed is not suitable. If this Amendment were accepted, we should be tied not merely to the granting of facilities to the representatives on the Consultative Assembly, but we should also be tied precisely to the nomenclature used at present. Any change of name in any of these organisations which are, after all, in their very early stages of development, would not be covered by this Bill. Some of the organisations have their constitutions under review at the moment. Indeed, that is the case with the Council of Europe. If there was even the smallest change—in the name of the Consultative Assembly, for instance—we should be compelled to have a new Act of Parliament before we could cover the position.
If there were to be any change suggested in the agreement for immunities 2385 and privileges upon which we would propose to base the Order in Council, a new Bill would be required. If, for instance, it was decided to cover the point raised by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) that the present Agreement does not touch committees sitting between the sessions of the Consultative Assembly, and it was suggested that the International Agreement should be modified to cover the committees, I do not think that many hon. Members would think it unreasonable to agree. Once again, we would have to have a complete Act of Parliament.
I very much doubt whether any hon. Member, however keen he may be to ensure that, on each occasion, these matters come before us, really thinks that we should have a Bill passing through all its stages in both Houses. I should lave thought that from that point of view the position was amply covered by the present procedure whereby an Order in Council is laid and is subject to the negative Resolution procedure. I was asked whether in fact we contemplated any other body in addition to the Council of Europe. I cannot say that we are aware of any new Parliamentary body of precisely the nature of the Council of Europe to which we might in any early future wish to extend these immunities and privileges. But I would point out that there is at present, particularly in Western Europe, a proliferation of new organisations with various functions, some of them if not overlapping, at any rate very close to one another.
It is far from certain that there might not be developments in the sphere of organisation in Western Europe which might certainly alter titles and might possibly transfer certain functions from one to another. I think that it would really be an exaggeration on our part to insist every time one of these adjustments occurs that, in order to cover new organisations, or newly named organisations, we should have to have a new Act of Parliament.
I would remind hon. Members that even as regards these Orders in Council made in the interval since 1946, there have been a number of instances where then existing organisations have gone out 2386 of existence but their functions have not. Their functions have been carried on, having been transferred to another body, and it had been necessary to have a new Order in Council not really in order to extend the matter at all, but simply to cover the new body which is doing the same work which was done by the earlier body. An example of that is much of the refugee work which was originally done by U.N.R.R.A. and, when U.N.R.R.A. wound up, it was transferred to the International Refugee Organisation. An Order in Council was made in respect of that organisation.
§ Sir H. Williams
Does that mean that if somebody comes to relieve refugees here he ought to be labelled "C.D." so that he can go into night clubs without further trouble?
§ Mr. Younger
That intervention indicates that the hon. Gentleman has not entirely followed all the details of this admittedly complicated Bill.
§ Mr. Younger
It was put to me that perhaps the World Federation of Trade Unions, the International Postal Union, or indeed some bee-keepers' association in which the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Gage) is interested, might qualify for immunities and privileges under the legislation as we propose to amend it. This would not apply to bee-keepers or the trade union organisation, but it would apply to the International Postal Union which is already a specialised agency within the orbit of the United Nations. It is a specialised agency brought into relationship with the United Nations, and it could be covered—I do not think that in fact it has been covered—as a matter or law under the 1946 legislation. It is quite unaffected by this Bill.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. Gentleman realises that that organisation was set up under the Treaty of 1874, long before the United Nations was thought of?
§ Mr. Younger
The hon. and learned Member has not appreciated the point. There are many organisations of that kind, including the International Labour Organisation, all of which ante-date the United Nations but have now been 2387 brought into relation with United Nations. I think that in all or nearly all cases the United Nations have co-ordinated many of the provisions referring to them such as the Convention on Immunities. In any case, that has nothing to do with this Bill, because the International Postal Union could perfectly well be covered under the older Acts. It was precisely that type of organisation which was envisaged at the time of the 1946 Act.
I think I have convinced the Committee that, for all these reasons, there is a very strong case for maintaining flexibility, because of the uncertainty of the precise structure of international organisations which are coming into being very frequently and which are being constantly modified, and because of the need to preserve as far as possible a measure of reciprocity, so that if there is an alteration in one of these agreements we can play our part in conjunction with other nations who will be playing theirs. For these reasons, the Government feel they cannot accept any Amendment which would simply retain some old and out-of-date formula, and they ask the Committee not to accept this Amendment, but to agree with the proposals of the Government.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. Gentleman has indeed changed the ground from that which was adopted by the Under-Secretary in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. On that occasion, we were told in terms what was the object of this Bill—and he did not say that it had any other object at all. It was:… to protect the rights and privileges of those who attend the Council as members of the Consultative Assembly That this Bill is introduced."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 1409.]It was upon that basis that we considered this Measure on Second Reading. We are in agreement with that object, and it is interesting to note that the Minister of State has indeed departed from what is the usual custom of Ministers when discussing Amendments. He has never sought to suggest that our Amendment does not carry out the Under-Secretary's expressed object. It clearly does, but the hon. Gentleman has not sought to criticise, and indeed could not criticise our Amendment at all, because it does exactly what the Government said they wanted 2388 this Bill to do, and that was to implement this Agreement.
That being so, it is not without interest that we are today, for the first time, being told that the real intention behind this Measure is to go much further than the Council of Europe. Today is the first time that we have heard any reference to the needs of the I.L.O. It has not been made clear to me, although I was listening very carefully, that this Bill seeks to give statutory protection to legal interpretations in respect of the I.L.O. I think it quite clearly emerges from what the hon. Gentleman has just said that this Bill goes a good deal further than codifying the existing law and a good deal further than extending it to the Council of Europe. I think it is clear, from what the hon. Gentleman and myself have both said, that we are in agreement that, if this Bill passes in its present form, it will mean that any Government of the day will have the power by Order in Council to extend diplomatic privileges and immunities to any kind of organisation to which this country is a party.
That, quite clearly, is going far beyond the 1946 Act, because that Act was limited to organisations of which the Government of the United Kingdom were members. It is also going far beyond the 1946 Act in the respect that, under this Bill as now drafted, international organisations of which this country is a member need not have upon them any representatives of His Majesty's Government at all, because the Bill in terms is extended to every organisation of which this country is a member, and to persons, whether representative of this country's Government or not. Therefore, it follows that under this Bill in its present form, we could have protection for any organisation of which this country is a member, and also protection for all the representatives of this country on that organisation, without one of them being a representative of the Government.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that that is going a great deal beyond the 1946 Act, and that it is also going a great deal beyond what is required for the Council of Europe. Why is it that we are asked to take that great step forward along the path of progress in giving more privileges to different people? What is the argument for it? 2389 The hon. Gentleman has really advanced only two arguments. The first is the desirability of flexibility, and the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) should lead him on that, and, if a Division comes, should vote with us, because the one important thing which the hon. and learned Gentleman said about it was that he did not agree with flexibility. By that observation, the Minister has possibly lost his only supporter on that side of the House.
What was the other argument? The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted to bring in a new formula which did not, in terms, tie up with any particular body. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that, if he wants an easy passage for this Measure, he should not take powers which he does not really require. When he tells us that he has no other particular organisation in mind, he is admitting that he is really trying to take powers which he does not really require for the main purpose for which this Bill was introduced. We can surely deal with the case of the I.L.O. by particular reference if that is really necessary, but this Bill goes right beyond that.
The hon. Gentleman's second argument was that we must have something pretty wide and flexible in its terms, because otherwise he would not be able to make Orders in Council, but would have to come to the House of Commons and introduce fresh Bills. The hon. Gentleman went on to suppose that there was a change of name of the Council of Europe. Is he really suggesting to the Committee that there would be any difficulty in amending this Bill if, for instance, the Council of Europe had its title changed to the Grand Council of Europe? It is true that it might require the introduction of a Bill, but I should have thought that even the hon. Gentleman would have realised that such an Amendment would not occasion any delay in the passage of a Bill of that nature.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider this matter further and more fully, for the reasons that it is now quite clear that this Bill is intended to go a good deal further than the existing law and a good deal further than is required merely to implement the Agreement on the privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe. He has really made out no case 2390 whatever for that. I therefore ask him—since it is obvious that the Committee stage of this Bill will not be completed today—at least to say that he will give further consideration to this matter between now and the Report stage. Both sides of the Committee are agreed on what they want to achieve, namely, the implementation of the White Paper, but they are not agreed that any case has been made out by the hon. Gentleman for taking wider powers than that.
§ Sir H. Williams
I am very disappointed with the speech of the Minister of State. I admit that I missed a little of it, because I was studying another document which I thought might have some bearing upon it. I asked a question about the meaning of "the organ of an organisation," but the Minister of State did not answer it at all, except to say something about proliferation. I do not know what he meant by that.
§ Mr. Younger
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows that he is misrepresenting what I said. I said that he could not have been here when I answered the question.
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Sir H. Williams
I am sorry and I apologise that I missed it, but I asked the hon. and learned Gentleman who was next to me, and who had heard the whole of his speech, and he said that he did not hear the definition. We are not always in the House all the time, for a great variety of reasons, and before I made my note to ask that question I took the precaution of asking someone whom I regard as entirely reliable. I still hope to learn what an "organ" really means. I was very confused last Friday when we heard the opening speech of the Under-Secretary of State. I was interested to see that one of the evening papers thought that I had made a violent attack on him. I did not. I said that the essay which he gave to us was unintelligible; and it remains so. I say the same thing about the speech of the Minister of State.
§ Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)
May I make a suggestion which may help the hon. Gentleman? Is not an organ a thing which has stops for use at suitable moments; unlike this Debate?
§ Sir H. Williams
When the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) was speaking, he promised to give me a definition. He failed to do so. I thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman, to whom I have just given way with great pleasure, would supply me with some information. I still do not know what these words mean. I think that we are entitled to know. Words in an Act of Parliament are of grave significance. That is why we have to take great care about the words that appear in an Act. I think it has been pointed out that we have now been told by the Minister of State something quite different from what we were led to believe last week. Last Friday, the whole point of the Debate was that this Bill was designed to deal with those persons chosen to go from this House or from another place to Strasbourg. That was announced quite clearly; there was no ulterior purpose; the Government had nothing in mind beyond that. It is strange that after the not very happy experience of last Friday—
§ Sir H. Williams
We did not divide because we wanted to find out what it all meant. I do not think that it is wise for hon. Members opposite to suggest that we have Divisions. I do not suppose that they are any more anxious to have unsatisfactory Divisions than we are, and their physical disability in the matter of frequency of Divisions is much greater than on our side. We have been told that this Bill is designed to make provision and, later, will make provision for an extension of privileges to persons who belong to bodies now non-existent. I think that that is a most dangerous doctrine. It is catering for the future in a very large way with regard to all sorts of organisations, many of which we may not like. I think that it is most dangerous to give these far too extensive powers either to the present or to a future Government. Look at the International Postal Union. That body is now more or less part of the United Nations. I think that the Minister of State was a little careless in his remark—
§ Sir H. Williams
Now we know what an organ is. The International Postal Union is in no way subordinate to the United Nations. The fact that it was "brought into relation" establishes no real contact, because knowing the activities of Mr. Gromyko, Mr. Molotov and Mr. Vyshinsky we know that a whole lot of nations are excluded from the United Nations that belong to the International Postal Union.
It is rather strange, having something brought into relation with a body whose membership is being excluded. The Minister of State ought to learn a little more about these international organisations before talking about them in the House of Commons. Perhaps he can tell us precisely what he meant by the International Postal Union being in relationship with the United Nations in regard to this Bill. Perhaps he will develop that argument a little further, because we really want to know where and how it comes into this Bill. He said the reason was because they had been brought into relationship with the United Nations. He really ought to give us a little more information, or was he just "chancing his arm" without realising the significance of the words he was using'? If he does not speak now we shall not know—none of us will know when we go home this afternoon.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I was astonished by the speech of the Minister of State. We all respect him, but he might have taken the trouble to have a little elementary co-ordination with his colleague, the Under-Secretary, so that we did not have two different speeches contradicting one another on what the Bill seeks to do. The Under-Secretary chided us for not dividing on Second Reading. We did not divide because we paid some attention to the speech the Under-Secretary made on Second Reading. We paid attention to the categorical assurance that the application of the Billis, therefore, limited to those who attend the Consultative Assembly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 1416.]Nothing could be more different than what the Minister of State told us in his speech just now. It is perfectly clear that he has read the Bill again and has had another interpretation put on the curious phrase, "any organ of such organisation.2393 It is clear that he has come to a different conclusion at this eleventh hour, and that the Bill is capable of a much wider interpretation than he thought. It put it that way to give him the benefit of the doubt. It is clear that the floodgates are now open. He referred to all sorts of organisations, and said that because of the transference of functions from one body to another we might wish to bring certain officials within the scope of this Bill. That is what we object to on these benches.
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich, North)
It would be extremely unfortunate if this discussion were allowed to finish on the acrimonious note introduced by the last three speeches. These speeches have served to cloak the fact that there is a large measure of agreement on this matter between both sides of the Committee. Until those speeches, this discussion was proceeding in a reasonable tone on the important matter at issue. It is true that there may be an apparent inconsistency between what was said on the last occasion and what has been said on the Government side today. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] But I think not. As I read it, what we have had to do is to enlarge on the arguments we had last time. It is a desirable enlargement in order to explain properly the meaning and the purpose of the Bill.
There is agreement between both sides of the Committee upon the fact that the wording of the original Bill is now no longer suitable. There is no agreement between the Government and the Opposition on the precise wording of the Opposition's Amendment, but there is agreement about the intention of their Amendment and how it should be covered by the Bill itself. Therefore, the intention, the purpose of what the Opposition want is, in fact, agreed to by both sides. The Government, however, have expressed their intentions in a form of words which the Opposition believe to be ambiguous and dangerously vague in meaning. I am not going to argue about the merits of that case, but I would make a suggestion to my hon. Friend. [Laughter.] I fail to see where the humour lies in this statement, which seems to tickle the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams).
§ Sir H. Williams
I thought the hon. Member wanted to bring in the Durham 2394 Miners' Federation. I thought he was a Durham Member.
§ Mr. Paton
That kind of remark is in keeping with the air of irrelevance which the hon. Gentleman always imparts into a Debate of this kind.
What I was about to say was that if the words as they now appear in the Bill are possibly ambiguous in meaning or vague in application, it is something at which my right hon. Friend might agree to look. We are dealing with a Bill which will become an Act of Parliament, and it is essential in all Bills that have been agreed to by both sides that meanings and terms should be as precise as we can make them.
I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that it is undesirable for a Division to take place on a matter of this kind, when we have such a large measure of agreement, and that he might be prepared to look at this again to see if something cannot be done on a further stage of the Bill to meet what I believe to be a legitimate point made by the Opposition. It might be done by means of a definition Clause in the Schedule. I am not suggesting that that is the appropriate way to do it, but I would appeal to my right hon. Friend to give the undertaking to look at this matter again.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I should like to reinforce the appeal which has been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Paton). [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not know why that observation should meet with ridicule from the benches opposite. To me it seems to be a reasonable observation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to think that if one of their Members make a suggestion which is in keeping with the plea of the Opposition then it is a ridiculous suggestion, but I think it is a very good one and worthy of consideration by the Minister of State.
There is no doubt that there has been a complete divergence between the way this matter was handled last week and the way it has been handled today, but nothing could be clearer than the words used by the Under-Secretary last week, which have already been quoted, and in which he said that the application of this Bill was limited to those attending the Consultative Assembly. Today, the Minister said the converse. He has made the 2395 point which we took up for last week when we adopted a view different from his. We felt that the application was of a much wider nature than that.
We were led to understand that that was not so, but that the application was merely for the one purpose. It ill-becomes the Under-Secretary to taunt us for not having divided against the Bill in view of the information which he then gave us. We were all agreed that diplomatic immunity had to be granted to those attending the Consultative Assembly, and it would have been rather ridiculous for us, having that agreement in mind, to divide on the Second Reading, in view of the hon. Gentleman's statement.
Now that we have been told precisely the converse our suspicions appear to have been well founded that it is intended that immunity should go far wider than the Consultative Assembly; and the Bill assumes a very different aspect. I hope the Minister will consider the suggestion that was made, that he should bring in words such as are contained in our Amendment—if he does not like these particular words he will be able to find others—which will have the effect which the Under-Secretary assured us last week was the intention, namely, to limit the Bill to members of the Consultative Assembly. I dealt with this very matter when I spoke last week. I said then that it would be possible, if we want to limit the Bill to those delegates, to bring in a Bill which said so. I hope that the Minister of State will give this matter further consideration.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I want to say a few more words on this matter. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Paton) thought that we were getting a little more acrimonious on this subject. He did not draw attention to the cause of the slight increase in temperature. We have a legtimate ground of complaint, in view of the speech made by the Under-Secretary in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. I know that it was his first appearance at that Box, but I am also sure that everything he said had been most carefully considered in advance.
I paid a great deal of attention to what he said, and I thought, when we 2396 started this Committee stage, that my Amendment was more or less in the nature of a drafting Amendment because, as the hon. Member for Norwich, North, has said, both sides of the Committee are agreed that we want to extend diplomatic privileges and immunities to the Council of Europe and the Consultative Assembly, and to carry out the agreement which was made. We were told that that was all that the Bill was intended to do. On Second Reading I drew attention to the fact that the Bill appeared to be too widely drawn for that object, and that it would enable diplomatic privileges and immunities—rather extensive ones—to be given to other organisations of which this country was a member and on which there was no representative of His Majesty's Government.
The Minister of State wound up that Debate. I must say that to my mind he did not put forward any idea at all that there was anything more between the two sides of the House than merely a question of drafting. He certainly did not give me the impression that it was part of the Government's desire to extend the law so that it should apply to other organisations on which representatives of His Majesty's Government were not present. I asked him specifically about the International Federation of Trade Unions. He did not answer, but I think he shook his head in a negative fashion at the time. It seems a pity that there should be this division of view, particularly when we are agreed upon what still remains the main object of the Bill, to give privileges and immunities to the Council of Europe and to the Consultative Assembly.
Therefore, I shall reiterate my request because I think it is reasonable. Indeed, I do so with greater confidence since the hon. Member for Norwich, North, thinks that it is reasonable. I ask him whether he will consider this matter before a further stage of the Bill is taken. When we are both united on the main object it is a pity that this point should divide us, and I therefore ask the Under-Secretary at least to get up and say that further consideration will be given to the matter.
There is an obligation on the hon. Gentleman to tell us why, in his Second Reading speech, he made no reference 2397 at all to what the Minister of State now says is one of the objects of the Measure. All he does today is to interject, from his seat, without rising, the question why we did not divide. I can tell him straight away. We did not divide because we thought that, apart from drafting, which could be improved, the Bill was solely intended to relate to the Council of Europe and the Consultative Assembly, the very thing that he told us. If he was aware of the fact that it was intended to go beyond that I must say that I think some explanation from him is called for now.
Before we move from this part of the Bill I hope that the hon. Gentleman will at least explain why he did not tell us anything about this object of the Bill in moving the Bill's Second Reading. In view of his speech it comes ill from him to ask us why we did not divide when it was not until this afternoon that we had clearly from the Minister of State that the Bill is intended to do a good deal more than merely provide diplomatic privileges and immunities to the Consultative Assembly and the members of the Council of Europe.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I submit that a point of Order arises when a Minister makes a categorical statement and then his senior Minister comes along next day and completely contradicts him. I submit that in these circumstances a personal explanation at least is due from the Under-Secretary.
§ Sir H. Williams
On a point of speech, Sir Charles. It is quite monstrous—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] "Monstrous" is a Parliamentary expression. We had a speech last Friday in which we were told that the purpose of the Bill is one thing and we have had a speech today from a senior Minister who says that the purpose is wider than that. From 2398 his own side there has been a suggestion that he should—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
On a point of Order. You were already on your feet, Sir Charles, and putting the Question, but we are now having another speech. I submit that that is out of Order.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
You were almost on your feet to put the Question, and I contend that this is now completely out of Order.
§ Sir H. Williams
The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester has not yet had much experience of a Committee being conducted in the proper way. Until the Chairman has collected the voices, speech is still in Order. However, he has wasted a certain amount of the Government's time by his unnecessary intervention, for which, no doubt, the Minister will be duly grateful.
§ Sir H. Williams
We had a considered statement last Friday, which was written out and read carefully, about what the Bill meant. I did not understand it then, but I read it afterwards and came to the conclusion that the Bill was designed entirely for one purpose, namely, to give certain limited protection to hon. Members of this House who travel to Strasbourg and those whom they take with them, their organs and their staff.
A plea is made from the other side of the Committee that the Minister should give the matter further consideration. That is reinforced by the Opposition. The Chairman rises to put the Question, and the Government are asked to reply but they will not. I suppose the real reason is that they have had instructions from above and those who gave the instructions are not here to authorise them to modify their view. It is a most unfortunate thing for a junior Minister to be on the Front Bench with strict instructions which he dare not disobey.
2399 I wonder why the Minister is unwilling to get up again. Perhaps he is trying to get instructions from the Home Secretary, who is sitting beside him—he is a very good tutor; I have known him for many years—to add a little to what he has already said and agree to reexamine the problem again. If he does not, it will take him a long time to get the Bill through Committee. That may be a new thought in his mind. Up to now he has only experienced a Parliament where the whip cracked, the Closure was applied and the Government got on with it. We are now living under entirely different conditions, and I would advise the Minister of State to be a little more conciliatory in this matter. There is an old saying that you catch far more flies with sugar than with molasses and the right hon. Gentleman ought to look for his sugar.
§ Mr. Bell
I reinforce the request to the Under-Secretary—[HON. MEMBERS: "Repetition!") I was not aware that anyone had yet reinforced the request of the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) that the Under-Secretary as well as the Minister of State, should rise and enlighten us as to the true reason for resisting our Amendment. The hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Paton), who made so conciliatory an appeal, implied that the wording was unsuitable for the purposes now intended. The whole point is, what are the purposes now intended? This matter raises the widest question of principle—
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
On a point of Order, Sir Charles. I understand there is a Rule on tedious repetition, and we have had a series of speeches which have said almost in the same words precisely the same thing. Indeed, it has been admitted by the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) that the purpose was to waste Government time and to prevent the passage of the Bill.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
It may be helpful if I read the following Standing Order to the Committee:The Speaker or the chairman, after having called the attention of the House, or of the committee, to the conduct of a member, who persists in irrelevance, or tedious repetition, either of his own arguments, or of the arguments used by other members in debate, may direct him to discontinue his speech.
§ Mr. Bell
I am much obliged, Sir Charles, and I shall take great care not to infringe that Ruling. The reason why I rose, not for the first time, seeking to catch your eye after the Minister of State had sat down, was that I felt the speech of the hon. Gentleman raised quite a wide question of principle. The hon. Gentleman said that the object of the Government in adopting the words "organisation" and "organ" in this subsection was to make it unnecessary to come back to the House on any future occasions if some redistribution of functions should occur among various organisations in Europe, or if some new organisations should arise performing functions vaguely analogous to those already carried out by U.N.R.R.A. or United Europe.
I fully appreciate the inconvenience of coming back to the House on frequent occasions for extensions of existing powers, but if this Bill goes through without this Amendment it is clear, from what the Minister of State has said, that he and the Government are thinking that they need never come back to this House for any extension of diplomatic privilege. The hon. Gentleman told us specifically that the reason why the words "organisation" and "organ" had been chosen was because they were so vague that they would take in any new development which might occur.
The hon. Gentleman instanced the inconvenience which had been experienced with the International Labour Organisation, and said that had been overcome by an optimistic interpretation on the part of the lawyers which had caused him some scruples, though he had managed to overcome his scruples. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government did not want that to occur in future. They did not want to have to rely upon wide interpretations and, therefore, in the present Clause, words had been selected—"organisation" and "organ"—which were so completely general in their meaning that any foreseeable extension of activity, or any new activity in the future, would be covered by them.
In my opinion, that raises a question of principle of which the Committee must take notice. We are being asked for a sort of lex regia on diplomatic immunity 2401 and privilege which will give to the Government the power to make Orders in Council without its being possible to challenge them on one ground at any rate; that is, that they apply to organisations not covered by the terms of the Act. That is a matter upon which the Committee must feel the most profound disquiet, and I ask the Ministers to take the Bill back to their Department and to consider seriously whether they ought not to try to meet this legitimate anxiety on the part of the Opposition.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell
I beg to move, in page 1, line 26, at the end, to add:Provided that no Order in Council made under the said Act of 1944 in relation to the said Consultative Assembly shall confer any exemption from taxes or rates upon any person who is a British subject and whose usual place of abode is in the United Kingdom.I move this Amendment in the confident hope that the Government will be able, if not to accept this exact form of words, at any rate to undertake to insert in the Bill a proviso which will achieve the same effect. As regards the object of the Amendment, unless there has been a further change of opinion since last Friday, we have the definite undertaking of the Minister of State, who said:I can answer the first question quite definitely. There is no proposal to exempt any British subject or anyone, from taxation under this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 1455.]Presumably, therefore, there is no disagreement on the object of the Amendment.
It may, however, be argued by the Government that for some reason or other the proposed new proviso is unnecessary; but I suggest that such a proviso is necessary, for this reason. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that in the 1944 Act there was a proviso to the effect that that Act should not confer immunity from taxation or from rates upon a British subject normally resident in the United Kingdom. When the 1946 Act came before the House of Commons, the situation had so far changed that there were then two categories of persons under consideration. One category was the representatives of His Majesty's Government on these various bodies; in the second 2402 category were officials of the organisations in question. Consequently, in the 1946 Act there was inserted a provision that representatives of His Majesty's Government should not benefit from the immunities conferrable under the Act. It was maintained that we were under an obligation to extend those immunities to officials of the international organisations, whether they were British subjects or not.
In the Bill now before us we have yet a third category in addition to representatives of His Majesty's Government and the officials of the various international organisations, namely, persons who are representatives but not of His Majesty's Government. It would appear reasonable that persons attending these organisations as representatives, although not of His Majesty's Government, should be placed in the same position as representatives of the Government and that, therefore, the limitation of the immunities extended to Government representatives by the 1946 Act should be continued under the Bill to representatives whether of His Majestys' Government or not.
All the Amendment seeks to do is to close a gap which has been opened in the structure of the 1946 Act by the creation of this intermediate category of a representative who is not a Government representative. It seeks to ensure that those non-Government representatives shall not be in a more favourable position than Government representatives have hitherto been.
§ Mr. Younger
I appreciate the anxiety which lies behind this Amendment, but I hope I shall be able to convince the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that it is not necessary. Certainly, I do not think it would be appropriate, at any rate in this form. As I understood his argument; he was anxious that the proviso under the 1944 and 1946 Acts, that an Order in Council shall not conferany immunity or privilege upon any person as the representative of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or as a member of the staff of such a representativeshould be widened so as to prevent the granting of privileges to persons not representatives of His Majesty's Government. We could not do that baldly in that form because, as no doubt the 2403 hon. Member has appreciated one of the reasons why the Bill has to be introduced is that under the agreement in relation to the Council of Europe we are being asked under Article XIV to grant a privilege in the United Kingdom to those who are not representatives of His Majesty's Government—
§ Mr. Younger
Not from taxation; I am coming to that. We could not incorporate a reference to those who are not representatives of the Government under the old proviso. We are allowing the proviso to stand in the existing form to cover representatives of His Majesty's Government. As regard the suggestion that we should put in the further proviso which would prevent the further immunity, exemption from rates and taxes, it has been made clear and we have given an undertaking in this respect that the immunities which would be granted under this Measure are only those immunities it is necessary to grant in pursuance of the international obligations under the agreement. Even such things as granting immunity to members of committees, which might have been thought quite reasonable, we are not including unless, at a future date, it is decided by agreement that they should be incorporated.
If we were actually to single out this one particular immunity I should think it would throw doubt on what has been the understanding throughout the Debates, that no immunities, whether as regards rates or taxes, or anything else, are to be granted unless they are required by the agreement.
It would seem to me, as a matter of Parliamentary drafting and procedure, a rather odd thing to pick out this particular thing, which it is said we might not grant, while leaving all sorts of other things which we have no intention of granting, but which we do not put in the Statute. I appreciate the motive behind the Amendment and I can assure hon. Members that we have no intention of granting this exemption. There is no need for it whatever; it is exceedingly unlikely that any such immunity should be suggested by an amendment of the agreement and, if it were, we would have an opportunity to object to it and not to agree to it.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I become more and more surprised, particularly in view of what has just happened. I should have thought it important that Acts of Parliament should express the Government's intentions. What are Government's intentions with regard to taxation and rates? On Second Reacting I asked the right hon. Gentleman two questions. The first was:Can he say specifically that no relief from taxation will be given to any British subject under this Bill, …?The Minister of State replied:I can answer the first question quite definitely. There is no proposal to exempt any British subject, or anyone, from taxation under this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 1455.]I think the Committee will agree that that was a clear question, firmly answered. Then we have the Minister of State getting up and opposing the incorporation of that assurance in this Bill.
In view of the departure from what the Under-Secretary of State said on Second Reading about the object of the Bill, it is even more important that this assurance of the Minister of State should be embodied in the Bill. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that this form of proviso is no new one, it is nothing very novel. If he looks back to the 1944 Act he will see that it appears there in a much more general form because there the proviso was not limited to the Consultative Assembly; it was unlimited in its area. Under the 1944 Act no exemption from rates or taxes could be given by Order in Council to any British subject whose usual place of abode was in this country. This Amendment is narrower than that. It applies this proviso only in relation to the Consultative Assembly. I must say that I really cannot see any logical argument whatever for not putting into this Bill what the Minister himself said on Second Reading was the intention in regard to this Bill.
I would ask him to remember also, how it was that the proviso to which I have referred came to be inserted in the 1944 Act. There was then a much better Parliament. The seats opposite were better occupied, particularly on Fridays. I was sitting on that side then.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
What happened then? I am speaking from memory, but I think I am right in saying that in the Second Reading Debate on the Diplomatic Privileges (Extension) Act. which was the first of the three Measures, an assurance was given from the Government Front Bench that there was no intention of relieving from taxation any British subject whose usual place of abode was in this country. That was quite as clear as was the assurance which the hon. Gentleman gave last week. That did not satisfy the present Minister of Health and the present Minister of Works. Both of them pressed, with the utmost vigour at their command, for the inclusion of the proviso in the Measure. They said that they were not content with any assurances from any Government, that when a Government gave an assurance there could be no valid reason for not putting that assurance in the Bill to which it related. That forms a good precedent for us today, and is a good precedent for the right hon. Gentleman.
I say to the Minister again that he should meet us at least in this respect by putting into this Bill words which the right hon. Gentleman himself said embodied the intention of the Government. The proviso as tabled does not go so far as the statement made by the hon. Gentleman last week because that statement applied not only to the Council of Europe and the Consultative Assembly but to any new organisation and the members and representatives of any new organisation in respect of which an Order in Council is made when this Bill becomes law. This proviso is limited only to the Consultative Assembly. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it is a very novel argument to introduce, that a proviso of this sort would create confusion. What does create confusion is the contradictory statements of Ministers.
To suggest that merely putting a clearly drafted proviso in a Bill of this sort is something which will create confusion is a suggestion not worthy of further consideration. I will conclude by asking the hon. Gentleman to give further consideration to these matters, to follow the precedent set in 1944 at the instance of his right hon. Friends and to embody 2406 in the Bill this proviso which, he says, carries out his intention.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I am rather surprised at the attitude of the Minister, because he is certainly not making it easier to get his Bill through. I should have thought that the arguments were very clear and that what is suggested in the Amendment carries out the intention which he himself has said he wishes to see carried out. But he adopts the rather common form attitude taken by the Government nowadays of asking us to rely on their good faith. It happens so frequently when an Amendment is moved that a Minister says, "We quite agree, that is what we want, but leave it to us to put it in the Order in Council it due course. We will not have it in the Bill." I suggest that is not the way that Parliament should legislate.
Here is a suggested Amendment which does achieve the object which the hon Gentleman says he wishes to achieve. Therefore what is the case against putting in the words? The hon. Gentleman says—I think he used the word "invidious" or some similar word—that it would be invidious to put this particular exemption in the Bill, because, he says, it might cause doubts. I suppose he meant doubts upon other privileges, as to whether other privileges were to be considered or not. I cannot imagine what other doubts he has in mind.
§ Mr. Younger indicated assent.
§ Mr. Marlowe
The hon. Gentleman nods his assent. That is not a good argument when it has already been done in the previous Bill. Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to tell the Committee of any difficulties or doubts which have arisen as a result of the inclusion of similar words in the previous Bill?
§ Mr. Younger
They were included in the 1944 Act and it was because they proved impossible to operate satisfactorily that they were not reproduced in the 1946 Act.
§ Mr. Marlowe
That was not the argument advanced at the time. In any event, the specific question I put to the hon. Gentleman was whether any instance had occurred where doubts had arisen? The hon. Gentleman interrupted me to say that there had been difficulties. I do not know what he means 2407 difficulties. Is he prepared to tell the Committee that there have been one or more specific cases in which somebody has claimed exemption from tax and that there has been some dispute about the interpretation of the words in the 1944 Act? Unless that has happened I do not think his suggestion about doubt being caused carries very much weight, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman to reconsider this point.
I am glad to see the Minister of State in conversation with the Home Secretary. I assure him that the Home Secretary could give him some good lessons in oiling the wheels of Debate and in getting a Bill through with a measurable amount of conciliation. I noticed that when the Minister of State was speaking the Home Secretary removed himself away from the Front Bench and sat below the Gangway. I think that it was a sense of agitation which moved him because he thought to himself, "How much better I would handle these matters if I were at the Despatch Box."
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
I went there so that I might admire my hon. Friend who had served with me for a considerable time at the Home Office, because I get a better perspective at that distance.
§ Mr. Marlowe
I am sorry if I misinterpreted the right hon. Gentleman's motives. Having had considerable experience of the right hon. Gentleman's manner in getting a Bill through, it passed through my mind that had he been in charge of this Bill, he would have adopted a rather different line on this Amendment.
Another reason why it is particularly desirable that these words should be included is that it is possible that doubts may arise if they are not. The Minister of State will remember that last week he related this Bill to Article 14 in the Strasbourg Agreement, and there is no mention of taxes in that article. I would draw his attention to that article. I think the same remarks apply of Article 15. There is no mention in either of those articles of immunity from taxation. As taxes are not referred to in the articles, it seems to me most desirable that they should be referred to in the Bill. Otherwise, the hon. Gentleman is asking us merely to accept his assurance that when 2408 an Order in Council is introduced the matter will be dealt with in that way.
I overheard the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs reporting to the Prime Minister that we on this side of the Committee were filibustering. The hon. Gentleman has said many unintelligible and unjustifiable things today, but certainly that is the most unjustifiable. I do not think we can be accused of filibustering when we have an occasion such as this with the Under-Secretary on record in the Second Reading last week as having said one thing, and the Minister of State today saying precisely the contrary. However, that is a matter which I will not elaborate. I do not wish to embarrass the new boys too much in the presence of the headmaster.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is going back to the previous Amendment.
§ Mr. Marlowe
Yes, I think I was, Sir Charles. I will refrain from that because that might justifiably lay me open to the charge of filibustering which is the last thing in the world I want to do—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—not beyond four o'clock, anyway. I want to make it plain that, in any event, if we are filibustering we seem to be doing it with some measure of success, as masses of senior Ministers keep arriving on the scene to deal with this very difficult situation.
I trust that the Minister of State will reconsider this matter and that he will realise that there is a perfectly legitimate suggestion in this Amendment. It meets a point which he agrees is one which ought to be met. He says himself that, in due course, he will be putting it in the Order in Council which will be laid before the House. I ask him to do us the justice of putting into the Bill what legislation he wishes to see effected and not leaving it to a mere undertaking that he will do it later in the Order in Council. It seems that we are at one in intention, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir H. Williams
I think the Home Secretary was very unkind to the Minister of State in his very brief observation, because he implied that the further away he was from the Minister of State the more he liked him. Unless his observation meant that it meant nothing at all.
2409 I was also surprised at the intervention of the Minister of State in answer to my hon. and learned Friend. He said that the proviso in the Act of 1944 had proved to be impracticable. I think those were the terms he used. How did they prove to be impracticable? Here is the provision in an Act of Parliament that no person who got immunity under the 1944 Act could obtain exemption from rates and taxes. That, he tells us, proved to be impracticable. It is a very strange remark to make. Does he mean that someone said to him that, in his judgment, he ought to have exemption but could not get it because of the Act of 1944? If that is so, he should give us an example. The mere statement that it proved to be impracticable is not good enough, and we ought to know what the hon. Gentleman meant, if, indeed, he meant anything at all, on which point I am becoming more and more doubtful.
Now he has given us an undertaking that Orders in Council can be made under the Bill when it becomes an Act, and he gives an undertaking that no immunity or exemption from rates and taxes will be granted. But that does not bind any future Government, just as the Government's declaration on devaluation was presumed to bind them but rather broke down. Even assuming that it does bind this Government, it does not bind any future Government, and it is not binding on a court of law. When a case goes before a court of law, the court interprets the wording of the Act and is never in the slightest degree influenced by what Ministers said in the Debate. These undertakings seem to me to be really valueless. The right hon. Gentleman has given us no reason why he should not put into the Bill what he agrees is the intention of its promoters.
All this shows what a badly drafted Bill it is. There is, apparently, a desire to grant a small number of people, for a short time, certain specified immunities, and I should have thought the right thing would have been to insert some provision to the effect that, notwithstanding anything in the previous Act, delegates going from this Parliament to Strasbourg should have certain specified protection and nothing more than that. It would be quite clear that they would not get any exemption from rates and taxes. Instead of that, all we have here is this very unintelligble Bill.
2410 My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South, has spent a good deal of time in drafting these Amendments, which are designed to give effect to declarations made by Ministers in the House last week. There is not one of the Amendments which does not embody a declaration made by a Minister last Friday. Nobody can say that we are adopting an obstructive attitude. It seems to me that the rather innocent-looking face of the Minister of State covers up a very obstinate, pig-headed will, and that he will find that in dealing with legislation his is not the easiest way to get it through. I should have thought that he could have raised no objection to inserting in the Bill these words of the Amendment:Provided that no Order in Council made under the said Act of 1944 in relation to the said Consultative Assembly shall confer any exemption from taxes or rates upon any person who is a British subject and whose usual place of abode is in the United Kingdom.These words are in existence in the earlier Act, and they have given rise to no defined difficulties. The Minister of State said that they had now proved impracticable, and I hope that when we resume this Debate next Friday, as I presume we shall, he will have looked up the precedents and records and will be able to tell the Committee what he means by these words, instead of the vague statement, unsupported by facts, which he has given us today.
§ It being Four o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.