HC Deb 25 February 1952 vol 496 cc888-91

Considered in Committee.

[Colonel Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

12.59 a.m.

The Chairman

It might be for the convenience of the Committee, as there are 532 Clauses and 25 Schedules, if I put them in blocks. If anyone particularly wants to speak on any block, perhaps he will stop me and then we can adjust the proceedings accordingly.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clauses 1 to 81 stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

Are we not to have any short statement from the Attorney-General?

The Chairman

This is a consolidation Bill.

Mr. Hale

I appreciate that, Sir Charles, but we raised with the Attorney-General certain considerations about consolidation upon which I had hoped he would have made two or three introductory remarks. But if he has nothing to say, I do not press the point.

Clauses ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clauses 82 to 168 stand part of the Bill."

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

With respect, Sir Charles, I should like to put a point to you.

The Chairman

What Clause does the hon. and learned Member wish to speak on, so I can put it specifically?

Mr. Bing

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

I do so in order to give to the Patronage Secretary the opportunity of giving us some indication about the business which will be before us. I do so very respectfully, because we all know the difficulty which the Government has been in, and we are anxious to facilitate the passage of this Measure. It seems to me a good occasion on which the Patronage Secretary should just let us know what further business it is expected to take tonight. We have had the position where a great number of hon. Members on the other side of the Committee were kept out of a previous debate, and we do not want anything of the sort to happen again to the Government side and also to this side of the Committee at a later stage.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)

It is intended to take the Committee stage of the Bill with which we are dealing at the moment, but not to take the Committee stage of the Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill or the adjourned debate on the Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill. There are one or two small matters under the Representation of the People Act which it was hoped to take. We hope that is agreeable to the Committee. It is not our intention to sit late.

Mr. Hale

I suggest, following that report by the Patronage Secretary, that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) should not at this stage press his Motion to a Division. The reason why I suggest that is we are anxious not to frustrate Government business at all, but we have laboured under the disadvantage of great difficulties That is really because many hon. Members were anxious to speak from their constituency point of view on the last Measure, but they had not the opportunity of doing so before the Closure was moved. I hope I shall not be ruled out of order if I suggest that while it would be proper to accept the Closure Motion at one o'clock, it might not have been accepted earlier on—

The Chairman

We cannot go back on a decision of the House.

Mr. Hale

I am much obliged to you, Sir Charles, but I was not saying anything controversial. Indeed, I was trying to be conciliatory. We all appreciate the unusual situation, and I should certainly like now to go home, as do my hon. Friends.

On the Income Tax Bill there were many matters to which I should like to draw attention. I was a little concerned on the last occasion that the Attorney-General accused me of discourtesy. The last thing I should wish to do would be to be discourteous to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The Attorney-General has been good enough to send me some explanations of some of the points which I raised on Second Reading, and although I would have preferred a discussion on them and have the benefit of the intervention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I feel that at this hour we should finish this part of the business.

This is an important Bill and, as it is a consolidation Measure, it contains many questions of importance. It is, however, exceedingly complex and would be difficult to discuss now, which was why I ventured to suggest to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church, who, I know is actuated entirely by—[An HON. MEMBER: "Malice."] I can appreciate the momentary indignation of the hon. Member who made that remark. After the 18 months through which we passed from February, 1950, to October, 1951, I would not suggest that there is not a moment when people make comments which are a little injudicious and a little unfair at this late hour of the night. That is one of the reasons why we ought to bring the business to a conclusion. I would suggest to my hon. Friend that he does not press his Motion to a Division at this time of the night, and also because of the charming answer of the Patronage Secretary, even though I have been kept here to move the first Amendment to the Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill, which I am now not going to move at this Sitting.

Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)

I do not object to the views which have just been expressed by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I share most particularly his view that most of us are anxious to get home. Therefore, I would join in the plea to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) not to press his Motion to a Division. But it is not a good reason why we should not adjourn that the Attorney-General has sent a letter to my hon. Friend which no other hon. Member has had an opportunity to see. I do say that at some stage in the proceedings the right hon. and learned Gentleman should read this letter, or impart its contents to the Committee, so that the rest of us may be, in some measure at least, as wise as he and the hon. Member for Oldham. West.

Mr. Bing

In seeking permission to withdraw this Motion may I say one word to the Committee and to the Leader of the House, who, I am glad to see, is with us. The other business, which is not being taken today, is of considerable importance, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is put down for a time when there can be full and reasonable discussion. The President of the Board of Trade was good enough to say, of the Export Guarantees Bill, that it concerned the whole trade of the nation and our whole future. That is not a matter which we ought to discuss at one o'clock in the morning. I think everyone will be grateful to the Patronage Secretary, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 82 to 168 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 169 to 532 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 to 25 agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[Mr. Vosper]

1.8 a.m.

Mr. Bing

There is Just one point to which I wish to call attention, and that is the deplorable use of initials in indicating where an Amendment is. If hon. Members will look at the opening of the Bill they will see that the letters "N.J." are used indiscriminately to indicate Northern Ireland or National Insurance. If, even at this late stage, it is possible to make some distinction, I suggest it will be received in Northern Ireland with considerable favour.

Bill accordingly read the Third time. and passed, without Amendment.