HC Deb 20 November 1952 vol 507 cc2069-183

4.33 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty under Section eight of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, praying that the said Act, which would otherwise expire on the tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-two, be continued in force for a further period of one year until the tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-three. I have read the Motion, because these are somewhat complicated fields, and I wanted to make clear to hon. Members who have any doubt about the matter that this is a Motion to continue the whole Act of 1945, and is not cast in the form in which the next Motion is cast, which continues specified Regulations. I only wanted to make that clear, and I apologise to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have given a great deal of attention to this subject and had discovered it for themselves.

I think it would be helpful if I remind the House for a moment of the nature of the procedure upon which it is about to embark. It consists of the presentation of an Address by both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty in the terms of the Motion, and, when this has been done, an Order in Council is made, and has to be placed before Parliament after it is made.

Perhaps I should also remind the House briefly of the nature of the powers which it is about to consider. They are the economic and financial powers derived from the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, and from the Regulations which have been made under it. The nature and scope of these powers can be gauged from the list of Regulations and codes of Regulations which are set out in pages 3 and 4 of the Command Paper which has been presented to Parliament.

The House will recall that, a year ago, the Government asked Parliament to maintain the status quo for a time, for the reason that they had not had the time to examine all these complex powers in all their details, and I undertook that the Government would proceed with a careful review of all the powers in question, and that, in carrying out this review, we should keep four possibilities in mind.

The first of these possibilities was that we might find that some of the powers could be relinquished altogether before there was any question of their having to be renewed again. Secondly, we might wish to propose that some should be embodied in legislation requiring annual renewal by Parliament. Thirdly, we believed that it would turn out that a few of the powers in question ought to be embodied in permanent legislation. Finally, we thought that we should find that some of the Regulations required to be continued for a further period. I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I were to comment on each of those four possibilities one by one.

May I first deal with the powers that have been relinquished or are going to be relinquished? I have pointed out in our debates on this subject that Regulations can be revoked at any time, so that it was possible, as the year proceeded, to discontinue certain Regulations without waiting for the completion of the review that was in progress.

May I take, as an example, the fact that we revoked Regulation 60BA which extended the powers of the Miners' Welfare Commission, because that Commission was discontinued under the Miners' Welfare Act, 1952. Generally speaking, however, it has proved convenient to defer revocation until the first stage of the Government's review of emergency powers have been completed, and, as hon. Members will see from the White Paper, quite a number of other Regulations and codes of Regulations, which were renewed a year ago, are not to continue in force after 10th December.

The instruments in this category are the nine separate Regulations and the code of Regulations set out at the bottom of page 2 of the White Paper which has been laid before the House. Since that time, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has completed discussions with the local authority associations and the London County Council about Regulation 68CA. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that it is necessary to keep a firm check on transfer of housing accommodation to other purposes. On the other hand, he is also satisfied that adequate powers of control are given by the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, which was, of course, enacted after the Defence Regulations which I have mentioned. He has therefore reached the conclusion that that Regulation should not be retained.

But the process of revocation does not end with those Regulations which are not to be renewed. Hon. Members may have noticed the statement on page 3 of the White Paper, that it was also the intention to revoke in part some of the Regulations which it was intended to keep in force.

This is not unimportant because the process of partial revocation affects no less than 28 separate Regulations, and in the majority of cases the power conferred in the Regulation will be reduced by its partial revocation. In other cases the power will not be altered, but the authority to whom the power is granted will be precluded from making fresh use of the power in the future.

May I give an example of what I have in mind here? Regulation 68A and other cognate Regulations set up a licensing system authorising the reconditioning and thereafter the occupying of condemned houses for the purpose of homes for farm workers and homeless persons. No fresh licences will be issued, but houses now occupied under existing licences will continue to be available for occupation for that purpose.

I think it fair to say that, in some respects, the effect of the partial revocations which it is proposed to make are no less significant than those of revocation in full, and I should like to give the House a few examples of this. I will take as my first one the proposal to revoke paragraphs 1 to 3 of Regulation 62, which authorised the issue of directions about the cultivation, management and use of land for agricultural purposes. Hon. Members may remember that paragraphs 2 and 2A of this Regulation, which will not be continued, authorised the dispossession, if necessary by force, of a tenant of agricultural land who had failed to comply with a direction under the Regulation. That is a very important change which is made by partial revocation.

Secondly, it is proposed to abrogate the power of the Minister of Labour under Regulation—

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has just mentioned a very important Regulation dealing with agriculture which appeared to be contrary to a statement made during the weekend by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. Will there be published before we part with these Regulations a statement regarding what the Amendments to the 28 Regulations which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned will be, and shall we have an opportunity of discussing them?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I should like to look into the point which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned about my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, because I did not know about it. But the position is, as the right hon. Gentleman heard when business was announced to-day, that there will be another opportunity next week, and, if I might leave it for the moment, I would look into the point generally before committing myself on this specific point so that I can see whether any information is not available to the House or whether it is included by reference which I would like to confirm.

Mr. Ede

The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned 28 Regulations which are to be amended, and I understand that as he does not want to overburden his speech by going through the whole 28 he is going to give us some examples. But I think the House should be in possession of the knowledge in some convenient form regarding the 28 Regulations which are being amended or varied.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will just allow me to look at another note for a moment so that I may be able to help him with the point which, of course, I am very anxious to do. I could, if it would not bore the House, mention them very shortly and the effect of the Amendments if that would satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, which I am very anxious to do, and then it would be in the OFFICIAL REPORT for reference. I will do it at once if the right hon. Gentleman would so prefer.

Mr. Ede

I think that would be desirable because I understand that if we dispose of this Motion today it will not be possible to reopen the matter. Therefore, I think we should know which of the 28 regulations it is proposed to vary.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman allow me to intervene for a moment? I do not wish to spoil this agreement between the two Front Benches, but some other hon. Members are interested, too, and I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there is no publication whatever of the Amendments which it is proposed to make to these 28 regulations. I should also like to point out to him that it is really quite impossible either to discuss or to consider this matter without knowing more than he can tell us in the course of the debate, things he may indeed say in the absence of other hon. Members who do not know what is happening now, and, in short, without knowing exactly in written form what the Amendments are.

Speaking for myself and perhaps for some other hon. Members, I suggest that we shall be put in very great difficulty in this discussion unless it can definitely be continued at some time when those written Amendments are available. We shall find difficulty in speaking on these matters today on a bare statement by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

Further to that point. I should like to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if, in these circumstances, you would consider a Motion to adjourn the debate because the Government have provided us with a White Paper which those of us who have Amendments down on this and other Motions have studied. We have gone through the Regulations referred to, and in any case they are two years out of date and a great deal of work has had to be done concerning them. The Home Secretary comes along and very obligingly tells us that it is not quite what it seems because certain alterations have to be made.

We have no way of knowing, without a great deal of study, what alterations these Amendments would make, and although I sympathise with my right hon. Friend who asks for details to be given us now, it would be quite impossible for us, in the time taken up in telling us about those proposed alterations, to consider what effect they will have on our point. I really think that you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, should give consideration to a Motion to adjourn the debate, especially as there is other business coming up this afternoon, and as, in any case, the Leader of the House has assured us that we shall have another opportunity to discuss this matter.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

I support what has been suggested about adjourning this debate for the reason that if the House today agrees to the Motion moved by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the matter will pass completely out of our hands and we shall have no, further power to deal with it whatsoever. We may be disagreeing completely with what has been done under the Act and then the Act will come into force again and we shall have no other opportunity of dealing with the matter. Surely, we should have the fullest information because here we are dealing with the continuance of an Act which, according to the Government, ought to have been dead long ago.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I could not accept a Motion for the adjournment.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am very anxious to give the greatest help I can, and, therefore, I shall accept what the right hon. Gentleman said and go through the Regulations with a short explanation, and I will ask the House to forgive me for the extra time that it may take. In Regulation 52 (4) relating to Ministry of Supply powers to make byelaws—

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us the page of the document? It would help hon. Members trying to find the place. It is really very difficult for us if he just calls out "Regulation 55" which, in his index here, does not give the page, and it takes quite a time to find it, and by the time we find it he is on the next but two of the Regulations he is altering.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am sorry, but I could not do that. It would mean turning up the page each time.

Mr. Bing

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying he does not know on which page of the book is the Regulation he is proposing to alter?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I thought the hon. and learned Gentleman was being serious. I do not remember the numbers of pages. I have used that book constantly up to a year ago, and I have always done so by turning to the page of the book where the Regulation is; and as the Regulations are in numerical order it has never caused me any difficulty.

Mr. Bing

But they are not even in numerical order.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Certainly, the main Regulations are. There are subsidiary ones attached. I am trying to be helpful. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is trying to have a bit of fun—if I may put it colloquially—I do not mind in the least; but in my book the Regulations follow each other numerically. Some, of course, have gone, but those that are left follow each other in numerical order. These are the main Regulations.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)

May I suggest—

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

No. I am sorry. I am not giving way.

Mr. Thomasrose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way the hon. Gentleman must keep his seat.

Mr. Thomas

On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not see how any point of order can arise.

Mr. Thomas

I am putting a point of order. Is it not the responsibility of the Secretary of State to enable hon. Members who wish to follow what he is pointing out—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Thomas

But I am asking your assistance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to enable hon. Members to follow what the Secretary of State—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Thomas

Surely it is a point of order to put to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it is the duty to require the Secretary of State, when he makes statements and quotations from documents, to make those quotations referable—easily referable—so that hon. Members may follow what he is talking about.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Thomas

On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I cannot pursue this matter any further. It is not a point of order.

Mr. Thomas

On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Is it the same point?

Mr. Thomas

I am putting a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Is it the same?

Mr. Thomas

It is not the same point. I am putting as a point of order now, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State, in deference to Mr. Speaker himself or to Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that he should make himself intelligible by quoting—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That seems to me precisely the same point I have already ruled upon.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Now I take Regulation 54B, which is being revoked as far as regards the community feeding centres and the heat treatment of milk.

Mr. Bingrose

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am sorry. I am doing my best, and I am not going to give way again. I have spent a great deal of time on this.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

Which words are to be omitted? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

No. This procedure was carried out for years under the Labour Government. It has been carried out before. Never has there been any information given as to the actual words, and I am doing this today only because the right hon. Gentleman asked me to do it. I was going to give only some examples; but out of deference to his desire for full information I am giving the effect of the changes, I really think that, in doing that, I am going farther than anyone has ever gone before. One must face up to the position. When one is asked to go a great deal further than the Government which hon. Gentlemen opposite supported ever went, then one does begin to doubt whether the request is being made in a search for information or is not a waste of time.

Mr. Paget

On a point of order. As I understand it, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, we are discussing a Motion. That Motion is to renew a Section of the Act which, in its turn, renews a number of Regulations. We are now told that the Regulations which we are being asked to renew are not the Regulations which have been supplied to us. Is it in order for the Government to put a Motion in which the House is not allowed to know what power that Motion gives them, and are we not entitled to ask, where there is a change, what that change is?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think that is a point of order. So far as I can gather the Home Secretary is doing his best to explain what the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to know.

Mr. Paget

I do not think you can have followed what I was saying, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The Home Secretary referred to Regulation 54B. He said that was now altered—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He said that that is being altered by the omission of two matters. We asked him what words were being omitted—or what lines; and he refuses to tell us. If this Motion is to retain or to get rid of certain powers, surely the House is entitled to know what they are. It seems to me a reasonable request.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It may be, but it is not a point of order.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that I did, in the introduction to my speech, explain the procedure which is followed. It is a complicated procedure, and I quite appreciate—without making any reflection on the hon. and learned Gentleman—his not having it completely in mind. Let me remind the House. There is a presentation of an Address by both Houses to Her Majesty in the terms of the Motion. When this has been done an Order in Council is made, and this has to be laid before Parliament after it is made.

Of course, the Order in Council will contain the full information, but I thought it would be convenient—and I am always prepared, as, I hope, the House will recognise, to do my best to keep the House informed—if I were to take the exceptional course of explaining the effect of the Amendments in what, I hope, are comprehensible terms. I think it is quite unreasonable to expect me to go beyond that and to give the exact Amendments in detail; and, with the greatest respect, I do not propose to do it. I am quite prepared to go the extent that I have said.

Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

On a point of order. In the event of Orders in Council being brought forward to modify these partial revocations of Regulations, will those Orders in Council or their contents be debatable in the House? If not, it means that this is the last Parliamentary occasion upon which we shall have an opportunity of considering these partial revocations.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order for me.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

The hon. Gentleman has this amount of strength in the point he has made, and it is what has induced me to take this course. We renew the whole Act. As I pointed out—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here at the time—we are renewing an Act which contains these matters in its Schedules. We renew the Act as a whole, and I intended only to give examples of what I thought were the most important ones that we intended to revoke in part. The right hon. Gentleman asked me to deal with the numbers, and I am therefore going to explain them. In the usual way that one does, I tried to take the sense of the House, to see whether they wanted me to go into such detail, which has never been done before, and I am prepared to do so. The ultimate form, as I said, will appear later. The Regulations which are being revoked—

Mr. Elwyn Jonesrose

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I really cannot give way again.

Mr. Bennrose

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

No. I am doing this with the intention of helping everyone. I think hon. Gentlemen might hear what I have to say, and then they can consider later whether they wish to ask for further information.

Regulation 54B is revoked so far as regards community feeding centres and the heat treatment of milk; 55, so far as first of all, the restriction on the jurisdiction of summary and quarter sessions courts and the control of undertakings; 55AB, so far as regards restriction on jurisdiction; 56 so far as concerns the control of undertakings; 56A, so far as regards restriction on jurisdiction. I shall come back to 58A, because I consider it most important. I shall deal with that after I have read the list. I have already mentioned 62, and I will come back to it again. Then 62A is revoked so far as regards a local authority cultivating land; 68A—

Mr. Elwyn Jones

It is quite impossible to follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

If the hon. Gentleman would like the loan of a pencil I will give one to him with great pleasure, then he can take down the numbers. If I am reading them out too fast I will go slower.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

That is all I was saying.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am anxious to meet the House. Sometimes one comes into the Chamber without a pencil or paper, and I merely wanted to know whether the hon. Gentleman wished to make a list, because I was quite prepared to help him.

Regulations 68A and 68AA are revoked except in relation to houses in respect of which licences are already in force; the same applies to the revocation of 68B and 68BB; 68CB will be revoked except in relation to accommodation already registered or in respect of which an application for registration has been made; 72, so far as regards Section 77 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, Section 10 of the London Hackney Carriages Act, 1843, and Section 8 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act, 1869; 85, so far as regards Regulation 62; 90, so far as regards the words or does any act preparatory to the commission of"; 93, so far as regards words which have ceased to have effect; 99, so far as regards the exercise of powers of the Attorney-General and a chief officer of police; and 100, 101 and 102 so far as regards certain provisions which have become of no effect.

Perhaps I might then turn to certain codes. The Defence (Price Control) Regulations, 1945, Nos. 6, 18 and 19 are revoked so far as regards the restrictions on the jurisdiction of summary courts and courts of quarter sessions.

Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman permit me—

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

May I just finish the list?

The Defence (Recovery of Fines) Regulations, 1942, Nos. 12 and 14, so far as regards certain provisions which have become of no effect; because of the revovation of other Regulations, these provisions have become of no effect. Then there are two more which I should have mentioned earlier. Regulation 52 paragraph (4), relating to the Minister of Supply's power to make byelaws under the Military Lands Acts, and No. 72 paragraph (1C), allowing persons under 21 to drive agricultural tractors.

Mr. Benn

May I ask one point? No. 52 is not even listed in the White Paper as a Regulation to be continued. If I may put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, with due respect, this is an infernal muddle, because it is impossible for us to follow when some of them are not even specified in the White Paper.

Mr. Ede

Might I point out that Regulation 52 comes under the next Motion, not under this one?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

That is so, and that is why I did not give it in my first list. It should come in under the next Motion. I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Irvine

May I put this to the Home Secretary? He was good enough to say that I could take this up when he had come to the end of his list. The House appreciates the difficulty he is in. To take an example, he told us that Regulation 93 is to be partially revoked so far as regards words that have ceased to have effect. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give any indication in respect of a particular Regulation and which the words are? If he cannot, is not the House in an intolerable position?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

No, the House is not in an intolerable position. I really do ask the hon. Gentleman to be fair.

Mr. Irvine

I am trying to be.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I have indicated with regard to these Regulations that all that is being revoked are words which are not now of effect. The hon. Gentleman really must be reasonable in the matter. It is a necessary consequence of codes of this kind that certain things cease to be of effect, and I am telling him that that is all the revocation that takes place there. I really think that that is sufficient.

I did think, and I still think—although I have tried to meet hon. and right hon. Gentlemen—that there were some five matters which deserved comment on these partial revocations. I had dealt with No. 62, which I consider is important because of the effect of the paragraphs I have mentioned. I think it is also important—and I drew attention to it in giving the list—that we propose to abrogate the power of the Minister of Labour under Regulation 58A to regulate the duration and situation of the employment of workers, and to require compulsory registration of particulars of employers and employees. These are important matters.

Thirdly, there is Regulation 62A under which, among other things, local authorities who hold land—including requisitioned land—occupied by them have been empowered to cultivate it even if the cultivation would otherwise be illegal and constitute a breach of trust or covenant. That power is now to be discontinued.

Then, where several of the Regulations are concerned—Regulations 55, 55AB, 56A and the Defence (Price Control) Regulations—the Director of Public Prosecutions or the other prosecuting authority will lose the right to require that the case should not be tried by a court of summary jurisdiction. As hon. Members of the legal profession will remember, trial by jury has the effect of exposing offenders to much heavier penalties than those which might be awarded by a court of summary jurisdiction.

I would draw the attention of the House to Regulation 90, where it is proposed to delete the words: … or does any act preparatory to the commission of … The deletion of those words will mean that it is no longer possible to prosecute for acts which are held to be preparatory to the commission of an offence under the Regulations. This surrender of a power is one which I am sure will be welcomed on both sides of the House.

Mr. Paget

Surely Regulation 90 does not come under this Motion.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not know if the hon. and learned Gentleman has considered that point, but I think it is an important one.

Mr. Bing

On a point of order. We really are in quite an impossible position. We are discussing Regulations which are made under another Act altogether and which are subject to another Motion which is coming up and also to an Amendment of a second Motion. Regulation 90, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now discussing, was made under the Emergency Powers Act, which is not yet before the House. It is difficult enough to follow the matters which come within the scope of this particular Act, but the House is thrown into complete confusion when the right hon. and learned Gentleman rushes off and deals with a matter which is contained in another Act of Parliament. I respectfully suggest that he should be directed to confine himself to the discussion of the Motion which is before the House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It might help if we were to confine ourselves to matters concerning the Supplies and Services Act.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I did want to list what I considered to be the most important matters that were to be dealt with by partial revocation. The hon. and learned Member is strictly correct and I apologise to the House for including that Regulation. I thought it would be to the advantage of the House to know which Regulations, in my view, were of importance.

Mr. Paget

Further to this point of order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right. According to the White Paper which he has given us, Regulations 82 to 105 are shown as being on the first Motion. But the White Paper is quite wrong because Regulation 90 comes under the Emergency Powers Act. We have a White Paper which is entirely deceptive. A good many of us have done a lot of work on this matter and apparently that work is quite useless because the information which the Government has given us is completely wrong.

In those circumstances, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would not you reconsider the question of adjourning the debate so that we can have an opportunity to consider the mistakes in the White Paper and the information which is impossible to absorb at the rate we have received it, in the middle of a speech? It really is impossible to carry on this debate in the responsible manner in which we ought, as Members of Parliament, to consider these powers, when everything is presented to us in such a chaotic muddle on the basis of an entirely deceptive White Paper.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not know why the hon. and learned Gentleman says that Regulation 90 is not continued by the Supplies and Services Act. I understood that it was continued by both Acts, and that position is confirmed by the notes in page 88 of the green book. I always hesitate to contradict a legal colleague when he tells me something flatly, but that is the information with which I have been supplied and I have confirmed it myself.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

On a point of order. I seriously suggest that the House is not being properly dealt with in connection with this matter. The Home Secretary is listing a whole set of sequential Orders and Regulations referred to in the White Paper which has been submitted to the House—

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Is this a point of order?

Mr. Thomas

I suggest that my point be heard before a decision is made with regard to it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has raised several points which he thought to be points of order and they have all proved not to be points of order. I hope this one is.

Mr. Thomas

I must confess that I cannot determine whether the point I am raising is a point of order before I have put it and the reply has been received. I am putting this as a point of order in order to discover whether it is, in fact, a point of order and whether, if it is a point of order, action should be taken accordingly.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If it will help the hon. Gentleman perhaps I should say that if there is some doubt about it being a point of order I should think it very likely is not. [Laughter.]

Mr. Thomas

I join in the general amusement which that remark created, especially as my name happens to be Thomas and I might be looked upon as a Doubting Thomas.

My point is that the Home Secretary is listing in his speech certain Regulations or parts of Regulations which the Government propose shall not be revoked or shall be revoked only in part. In the course of listing those Regulations or parts of Regulations he quotes certain words of certain of those Regulations or parts of Regulations. Is it in order for the Home Secretary to list, merely verbally, the wording of Regulations or parts of Regulations which it is proposed shall be revoked or revoked only in part, without the House having laid before it the actual wording which it is intended to retain or to revoke?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

My suspicions were correct. That is not a point of order.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I would point out that the giving of that list was in answer to a request by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I am quite sure that when the right hon. Gentleman asks me anything he has a serious reason for doing so and I was therefore very glad to comply with his request; but I am surprised that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has said what he has about Regulation 90. I have looked at the White Paper and it says: 82 to 105 General and supplementary provisions. Unless my arithmetic has gone very wrong the numbers 82 to 105 include number 90. These are Regulations which are included and, as is stated at the top of Page 2, of the White Paper: The final result is that the continuation of the Supplies and Services Act will keep in force the following Regulations. —including Regulation 90. The hon. and learned Member said to me a moment ago that Regulation 90 was not continued under the Supplies and Services Act. I really should have thought that as he has now discovered the point it was in accordance with the candour which the House expects of him that he should say so.

Mr. Paget

I shall be most happy to take the opportunity to do so—

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I wanted to get it clear.

Mr. Paget

I understood that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had given way. If he looks, he will find it in the Schedule to the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act at line 25 which sets out under that Act Regulations 90 to 93 and various others. What is mystifying me is why it is necessary to renew the same thing in both Acts.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

That is an entirely different point. I pointed out to the hon. and learned Member a quarter of an hour ago that it was continued under both Acts. The reason for that is that the procedural Regulations apply to Regulations that are maintained under both Acts and it is necessary to apply them. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for his apology, I am not rubbing it in, but I want to point out—the same goes for myself and most of us in the House—that we all have to be careful in this procedure. I think we should be a little cautious in throwing charges about before we have fully considered the matter.

I have dealt with the first category and the second possibility was that when we undertook our review of these emergency powers we might find it possible and desirable to embody some of them in legislation requiring annual renewal by Parliament. The powers in question here are probably the most complex of all the powers with which we are concerned in this debate today. I am not going to quote individual Regulations, but am merely giving examples. They cover the fields of requisition of land, of price control, of the control of industry, of the control of labour and employment—

Mr. C. Davies

Is that Regulation still in existence? I thought that the Minister of Labour in the late Government had actually withdrawn it at that Box.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind —speaking from memory—an undertaking not to use it, which was given by the penultimate Minister of Labour in a debate in which both the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I took part.

I was indicating to the House that the Regulations which are left cover all the field of economic control. I mentioned three and I give two other examples, building and agriculture, to show the immense complexity of the law which they now govern. I want to assure hon. Members that the possibility which the Government had in mind a year ago of ultimately including these wide economic controls in legislation renewable annually has received, and is continuing to receive, the most careful consideration in order that the Government may prepare such legislation of this kind as may appear to them to be desirable when the opportunity for legislation on the subject should occur.

The right hon. Member for South Shields chided me with not having done something in this direction. I put it to him and to everyone who has had to consider as a duty the question of preparing and drafting legislation that when the diversity and complexity of the subject is considered it is not unreasonable that one should need a longer period before one prepares and submits legislation on these matters.

There is the further point, which, as a former Leader of the House, the right hon. Member will have in mind, of the time it would take when the legislation was prepared and submitted. If he could try to imagine, with all the ingenuity that is behind him today in discussing an Act, trying to put in statutory form requisition of land, or even price control, or the question of control of industry, he would appreciate that it would take so much Parliamentary time that it would be out of the question at the moment. That is my defence. I only ask the House to accept my assurance that I have studied the problem during the year and that that was the conclusion which was forced upon me.

I now want to turn to the powers embodied in permanent legislation. The third possibility in the mind of the Government in carrying out its review was that of embodying in permanent legislation emergency powers which could be seen to be permanently required. Hon. Members will no doubt now have studied the Bill for that purpose, which the Government have introduced in another place. I was a little surprised at the suggestion made recently by the right hon. Member for South Shields that the Government were not justified in introducing a Bill on this subject in another place. I agree that it is true that the matters dealt with in the Bill are important—but to what Bill does this not apply, in some minds at least?

I could not accept the view of the right hon. Gentleman that the matters covered by this Bill affect the liberties of the subject in so special a way as to make it inappropriate for the Bill to receive consideration first in another place. The right hon. Member will appreciate that this is the category of those powers which are going to be embodied not only in permanent form but for permanent use. They are matters which have shown themselves to be useful although they were introduced for emergency purposes.

That is the change that has been made and it seemed to me that the earlier that change was made the better and the arrangements as to time which I had in mind will be apparent to everyone. Of course this is not the occasion—and it would be wrong for me—to comment in detail on the contents of that Bill. There will be an ample opportunity for me to do so in the future, and for hon. Members to express their views.

Today, the matter that is relevant is that, as the White Paper says, this Bill will make possible the discontinuance of six further Regulations which subsist by virtue of the Supplies and Services Act, 1945. In the meantime, these Regulations must continue in force and this is provided for in the second Motion at present before the House.

The fourth possibility which the Government always foresaw was that, whatever might be the results of the review, a number of the powers would have to be continued for a further period in their present form. On the question of their continuance, I hardly need to remind the House in detail of the nature of the powers or the effect that their discontinuance would have, because they are needed for defence purposes, for economic purposes and also for the winding up of war-time and immediately post-war problems which is still going on.

If I may turn for a moment to the question of the period for which Parliament should be asked to renew these emergency powers, I should like to remind the House that the regulations can be revoked at any time and it is certainly the intention of the Government to exercise a continuous and vigilant review of this field of emergency powers and to lose no opportunity of relinquishing further powers where this is justified by the circumstances.

I think that some real progress has been made with the process of dispensing with war-time powers. After all, it is quite a considerable achievement that 24 Regulations and six codes of Regulations should have gone since the Government took over. Numerically, and I only put it numerically, they are more than a quarter of the existing Regulations. But I ask the House to consider that these that are left have a double quality which has made my task difficult. First, they are of the utmost importance in the machinery of Government at the present time, and, secondly, they are the most difficult to prepare and draft in legislative form.

But I do not want to spend the time of the House in explaining my difficulty. I thought the House ought to know the result, and the method with which I had approached it. I want to make it clear that I am asking for this extension on the basis that throughout this year, as throughout the last, the Government will consider all the time what Regulations can be abandoned and, as soon as they can be abandoned, will revoke them at once.

There is one other matter which is not unconnected with the Motions before the House. Hon. Members from all quarters of the House have shown a great interest in it—and I should like simply to sum up the results of our action up to the present time—and that is the question of the power of entry without warrant. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen in all quarters of the House would want to know where we stand.

Hon. Members will remember that on 15th July last my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House that the total number of officials possessing such powers was 16,744, including 3,887 empowered with a warrant to enter private houses used exclusively as such. These numbers represent a reduction since June, 1951, of 2,451 in the total number and 2,101 in those having power to enter private houses.

This matter has continued to receive close attention and I can now inform the House that the number of officials with power of entry will shortly be reduced to about 14,450, of whom 3,083 will be empowered to enter private premises. That is, there has been another reduction of about 2,300. These figures represent reductions since 1st June, 1951, of 4,745 in the total number of officials with powers of entry and 2,905 in the number of those empowered to enter private premises.

I see from the expression of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) that he does not want me to be weary in well-doing, but wants that number reduced. But all these matters have to be considered in their context and I think that the House will be glad to know that that very considerable reduction has been made. I should also like to say one thing which is only fair to those who have to carry out these duties. I think that in many cases the reason that one has been able to carry on administration in difficult fields without these powers, having relinquished them, is because the human beings who have had to carry them out have, in many cases, carried them out well and with so little criticism that people have been ready to deal with the matter on a voluntary basis and have made the retention of these men unnecessary. I believe that, in an unpopular field like this, this House should be careful always to recognise the difficulties of the actual people who have had to do what is considered an unpopular act.

This will be a convenient time to deal with the very important question of how Parliament can best be enabled to exercise proper control not only over these Orders under emergency Regulations but under delegated legislation generally. This is a matter on which we on this side of the House have made our attitude clear on more than one occasion. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have also shown their readiness to consider how the supremacy of Parliament should be observed amid the changing conditions of modern life that add so enormously to the complications of Parliament and the need for quick action, which is one justification of delegated legislation in certain circumstances.

The Government are very willing that an inquiry should be held into the procedures for exercising Parliamentary control over delegated legislation. I have used the word "inquiry" because I want to make it clear that the Government are not wedded to any form, for the very good reason that this is a matter that concerns the House and that it ought to be the kind of inquiry which the House as a whole would like. It is a House of Commons matter. It is a duty on all of us to see that this is done. The Government therefore will be very ready to discuss through the usual channels, in any way that will be suitable to the other parties, the precise form and scope of such an inquiry. When that discussion has taken place I hope that we will be able to agree on the best form of inquiry and that that will be done.

I feel that I have rather a personal apology to make to the House. This is a subject which has always interested me. At various times I have been bold enough to write upon it and perhaps I held out hopes last year that I myself would be able to put forward suggestions. But I think that the House is probably fortunate in my not having done so, because an inquiry by the House, approved by all quarters of the House, is, I think, the best way of dealing with this difficult question.

I apologise to the House for the length of my speech. Whether I was right or wrong in answering the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I hope he will take it that it was an attempt to help the House, done off the reel and as best as I could standing at this Box. Therefore, with these words, I should like to commend this Motion to the House and to ask the House to accept it.

Mr. Bing

Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down, may I ask him to deal with the reasons why it is proposed to revoke the Defence Regulation for the encouragement of exports?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I think I had better leave that until later. I feel that I have detained the House sufficiently.

Mr. W. R. Williams (Droylsden)

I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not mind if I ask him this question. I have been following his excellent statement as carefully as I can, but there is one Regulation in which I am especially interested, and that is 68CA. This matter has been the subject of consideration between the Minister of Housing and Local Government, local authority associations and the London County Council. I wonder whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made some reference to that.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I did make some reference to it. I am afraid that I have been speaking for so long, and I blame no hon. Member for not having heard all of my speech. I did say that these discussions have taken place, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government was satisfied that his powers under the Town and Country Planning Acts—if I may trust my memory, it is Section 14 (1)—are sufficient for that purpose.

5.41 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add: the consideration of any proposal for the continuance in force of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, be deferred until the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill, now pending in the Lords, has received the Royal Assent. I must start by thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the patience and suavity with which he has dealt with the very difficult subject that he has had to handle this afternoon. I want also to express my thanks to him for having responded to my request that we should get some indication of the extent to which revocations that have taken place or are in process of taking place have, in fact, occurred, and some indication of what their effect is likely to be. I feel that although the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been put to great inconvenience in doing it, he has conclusively demonstrated the impossibility of our much longer proceeding in this House with discussions of this kind and in handling this kind of matter in the way that we are asked to do today.

I welcome the statement that he made at the end of his speech. It is high time we had such an inquiry. I welcome particularly his statement that this is a House of Commons matter. There are some people who suggest that a Royal Commission or a coterie of businessmen—I hope that is not an offensive way of describing big businessmen—should step in and tell us how to run our business. My own view is that if we can get good will on both sides—and the attitude of the Government towards discussion in the House is not making that very easy—I believe that we could find ways of exercising an effective control and even of giving to the general body of the House opportunities of initiation which at the moment do not exist.

Therefore, I hope that whatever form the inquiry may take, it will be conducted by Members of the House only and will be successful. I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for having made the suggestion he has, and I can assure him that if his first advances are continued through the usual channels he will find that on this occasion they are completely open, and we hope there will be a two-way traffic through them.

Apart from that, I am bound to say that I found very little comfort in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I was not greatly impressed with the number of people who no longer have a right of entry; 14,450 appeared to me to be a very considerable number of persons to have this right, and while I join with him in expressing the thanks of the House to the people who have had this duty imposed upon them by the House, for the way in which they have done it, and the small number of cases in which there has been any friction, I cannot help thinking that the numbers might be still further reduced.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is evidently departing in some ways from the Conservative faith, for he expressed the view that some of the things that he was about to say had been brought to his notice by the changing circumstances of modern life. That is a good Radical attitude, and we can only hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will become more and more amenable to the pressures that the changing circumstances of modern life entail upon all of us.

I am bound to say that I was surprised at the right hon. and learned Gentleman's references to the introduction of the Bill, which is now pending, in another place. I should have thought this afternoon's speech by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in itself an eloquent and convincing statement in favour of such a Bill originating here in this House, which is responsible to the people for all these things that make an impact on their daily life, and where we have to shoulder the responsibilities. I cannot help thinking that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman during the past year had not had to give so much of his time to the assistance of the Ministry of Transport, we might have had rather more information from him this afternoon, and he might even have been able to put some of the theories which he has expressed in writing into rather a more definite form than he has done today.

On the other Amendments we shall deal in some detail with the various Regulations that are there referred to, but we are handicapped on this Motion by the fact that these revocations which have been announced this afternoon come to us sometimes as a complete surprise. Where they are partial it is very difficult to follow them, particularly in the way in which this has been done this afternoon—although we are all grateful for the courtesy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman in endeavouring to help us in the matter.

Moreover, it makes it very difficult indeed to discover exactly what powers we are leaving the Government to exercise, and the extent to which normal activities may have been circumscribed by the partial revocations which are carried out. I hope that if next year we have to have a similar discussion, the White Paper that is issued will enable us to follow in detail exactly what we are being left with and exactly what alterations the Government have made.

I cannot help thinking that one of the difficulties that confront us in this matter is that once we have parted with this Motion, for a year there can take place the revocation of an order which we would desire to retain. This, so far as I know, we would have very great difficulty in discovering, and secondly, when we had discovered it we would have some difficulty in taking effective steps with regard to it.

I cannot help thinking that Regulation 68CA gives a very good example of that. After all, it was only the persistence of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) last year which ensured that that Regulation was continued during the year that has since elapsed. On that occasion we did not have the benefit of the attendance of anybody representing the Ministry of Housing and Local Government until my hon. Friend moved the Adjournment, when the hon. Gentleman who represents that Department and whom we are glad to see here this afternoon came into the Chamber at the double—in fact, almost at such a pace that he made us lose our breath even if he had not lost his.

Regulation 68CA is a matter on which I hope we shall hear rather more from the Government this afternoon. It still gives very great misgivings to the local authorities, even with the explanations that have been so far tendered. In the populous county borough which I have the honour to represent in this House, and in which for many years my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) was one of the leading town councillors, we have had a good many applications under this Order. Some 16 cases have occurred there, and the town council have refused their consent in seven cases.

So far as I know, this is the only opportunity that we have of ascertaining from the Government whether their amended proposals, with which some of my hon. Friends hope to deal in detail during the course of these discussions, will be adequate to enable the local authority to discharge its duties in an area which has had a considerable housing shortage for many years, and which has suffered the loss of a good many houses from bombing, to secure that residential premises, some of which could be used for the housing of several families, should not be turned over to business purposes.

I hope that during the discussion of this Motion the hon. Gentleman who is to reply will be able to make a further statement to the one which has so far been made.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

That was what I had in mind. I thought that it would be more satisfactory if my hon. Friend were to deal with the point at greater length, and that was why I did not go into it myself. He will deal with it.

Mr. Ede

I am much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I am glad to see that on this occasion he is supported by a number of hon. Members, Parliamentary Secretaries in various Departments, who, I hope, will be prepared, at the various stages of our discussions, to deal with any particular Order that may be challenged. I believe that the hon. Gentleman who is to reply must have a very good brief on this matter, because I find that on 13th November, 1952, before any information was given to this House, a circular was issued by the Conservative Research Department to hon. Members of this House who more or less support the Government, in which category I do not claim to be included, setting out what was the Government's policy.

I want to protest with the utmost vigour against the action of the Government in supplying for the private information of supporters of the Government information not generally available to Members of the House. If such information is to be circulated, and if decisions have been taken on a matter which was then known to be exciting the utmost interest of the local authorities represented by hon. Members on both sides of the House, the statement ought to have been made here for the general information of the House and of the public.

Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is the last person to make an unfair accusation, and I think that I am right in saying that all the information contained in the piece of paper to which he is referring had already been given to the local authority associations, and it was public knowledge amongst them.

Mr. Ede

What an answer. I am complaining that hon. Members of this House generally do not get information dealing with a matter that is of concern to every hon. Member in the House, because all of us represent areas, irrespective of the side of the House on which we sit, in which this is a matter of grave concern. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) says, "Well, the Government did not tell you, but it did tell the local authority associations." I do not think that is an adequate answer.

The local authority associations are very important bodies, but the responsibility of Ministers sitting on the Front Bench opposite is to this House. On a matter of this kind it ought not to be the fact that information is circulated privately through a party organisation to Members on one side of the House and not to every Member of the House. I do not wish to say anything more about that. My hon. Friends will deal with the merits of the matter in the various speeches which they will make.

I now come to the question of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said was his third method of dealing with this mass of Orders, and that was by the inclusion of a few in permanent legislation, That legislation dealing with a very limited number of cases has been introduced in another place. One of the disadvantages we are in today is this. I would regard Regulation 68CA as being one which was very suitable for enshrining in permanent legislation in something like its present form, and I should like to have been in the position, before we parted with this Motion, of knowing that it had been permanently preserved appropriately.

After all, the statement made by the Minister of Housing and Local Government foreshadows something which has not yet been completed. I understand that there is to be some further legislation on this matter. The Minister of Housing and Local Government has written to the local authority associations, say the Conservative Research Department—one would think that it went through their postage book—saying, he has decided that an amendment should be made to the Town and Country Planning (General Development) Order, 1950, making it obligatory for local planning authorities to consult housing authorities where they propose to agree to a change of use from housing, and desiring that where agreement is not reached the matter should be referred to him. He "desires," and is not taking any power to ensure that it shall be referred to him. Pending the amendment of the General Development Order, the Minister will ask all housing and planning authorities by circular to co-operate closely and to bear in mind the importance of conserving housing accommodation. It seems to me that that is precisely the thing that we ought to be able to discuss when we propose that this Order should be put into permanent form. I suggest that in this, as in other matters which we have had already this Session, the Government have got themselves and the House into great difficulties in the order in which they introduce matters for our consideration.

We ought not to part with the Motion until we have seen the Measure dealing with permanent legislation which it is proposed to originate to deal with some of the existing powers of the Government and have had an opportunity, if we so desire, of proposing new Clauses which would enable other Regulations—not all of them are harmful; many of them have been proved to be beneficial in their working—to be included in the Measure.

I do not wish to say any more at this stage on the Regulations which have been relinquished, but I was a little disappointed with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about the second category, those which might be put into legislation subject to annual review. It is true that he pleaded that he had only been in office a year, but last year his plea was that he had been in office only a fortnight. I do not know what his plea will be next year; probably that he has had to give so much time to transport and the iron and steel industry that he has had to regard the Home Office as merely a part-time occupation.

Mr. John Hay (Henley)

How long was the right hon. Gentleman there?

Mr. Ede

I was there for six years.

Mr. Hay

And did very little.

Mr. Ede

On the contrary, the complaint from the Opposition at that time was that I did too much.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman appealed to me as "an old Leader of the House." Having reached my 70th birthday, I wish he would not put so much emphasis on the "old." I have to put up with it from my great-nieces, but surely I do not have to put up with it from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has talked about the ingenuity behind me; that is for him, as well as me, to take into consideration. I welcome the attention which my hon. Friends give to the matter. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman seriously to consider having consultations between the two sides of the House and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) as to what matters might be put into legislation with a view to making it reasonably possible to have some legislation at an early date.

I admit that the Government have to get these things through by 10th December, but I should hope that it would be possible to get the Measure through another place—the Government's majority there is not one which causes any anxiety to the Government Chief Whip; in the whole of my lifetime no Conservative Government have ever been embarrassed there in getting what they wanted when they wanted it—in sufficient time for us to be able to discuss it here before 10th December.

It is true that it might lead to some slight recasting of Government business for the week after next, but I cannot imagine that what the Government have to do so early in the Session is of any great urgency, whereas this matter might be one on which we could reach a fair measure of agreement. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be prepared to accept the Amendment so that we can deal in some spirit of give-and-take with the various matters which would then arise.

The loss of power by this House—I said this when I was Leader of the House and Home Secretary—over many of the things which intimately touch the lives of our people must be of grave concern to everyone who desires to see democracy real and vital in this country. I hope that, in consideration of these matters, many of which are forced on us by what the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly called "the changing circumstances of our time," we shall be able to find ways and means of enabling people to see that Parliamentary control is effective and that, when action is called for, Parliament can move swiftly, so that our conception of a democratic form of Government can in that way be justified.

6.6 p.m.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

I should like, in the first place, once again to express my full agreement as sincerely and as earnestly as I possibly can with what has been said in the last few sentences by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede).

This is a matter which vitally affects not only this House, and not only this country, but democracy generally. I have had to point out before that although more Parliaments seem to have been created in the last 50 years, certainly during the period from 1914 down to today, each Parliament has gradually lost its power. There has been a whittling away of the power it hitherto exercised, which was gained after a long struggle, over centuries in the case of this House and this country; and the power Parliament had gained from the Executive has steadily, bit by bit, been going back into the hands of the Executive.

I welcome what was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman about the way in which these matters can be dealt with in future. Frankly, I do not like legislation by Orders in Council. This House would have nothing to do with them when it had to struggle to maintain its position against the King in the 17th century, and it has been very jealous—rightly jealous—of its own power of having complete control over legislation. But one recognises that the Government Departments now have to deal with so many things that it is quite impossible in this House to go into all the detail that is required and deal with the matters in that way. Therefore, from time to time powers have to be given to the Minister by means of Orders in Council and Regulations for these matters to be carried out.

What we are anxious to know is what limit we can put upon those powers and what new Regulation we can make in order, so to speak, to perfect that system. At the present moment, before a Bill leaves this House it has been the responsibility, the right and the privilege of every hon. Member to take part in the framing of it, and it is an act of all the hon. Members of the House. An Order in Council is an act of the Minister of the time and of the Department of which he is the head. All that we in this House can do about an Order in Council is to express our assent by nodding or our dissent by shaking our heads and saying that we will not agree to it; we have no power to amend an Order in Council or to make new suggestions.

This is, again, a matter that we should examine. I was glad to hear what the Home Secretary said about not deciding just yet how this should be dealt with, but I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields that it is a matter for this House. It ought to be dealt with by a Select Committee of this House. It may be desirable to have a Select Committee consisting of members of another place as well as Members of the House of Commons, but that remains to be seen. I should prefer that we had our own Select Committee which was confined to this House. I hope this will be dealt with very soon.

The other point I want to put is this. I am assuming that, in spite of anything the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields and I may say, this Motion will go through, and many of the present Regulations will remain Regulations under the Act. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that surely the time has come when we can say which of them ought to be embodied in an Act of Parliament, and if it is necessary for them to be so embodied in permanent form, the sooner we do it the better.

The Home Secretary said that it is very difficult to frame legislation to deal with these matters. If that is so, it seems to me to be the most cogent argument why they should be embodied in a Bill which would be discussed fully by the House before it became the law of the land. The sooner it is dealt with by all parties in the House, because this is a matter that concerns all of us as well as democracy and democratic institutions—

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

We are all interested in this point and I should like the help of the right hon. and learned Gentleman on it. Let us take the question of the requisition of land. There are some 10 or more Regulations dealing with that subject. I take it that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not want that to be covered by permanent legislation. He thinks it should be embodied in an Act which would be renewed annually. Does he think that a Bill putting in statutory form the provisions necessary for the requisitioning of land could be got through this House in a short time? The difficulty is that it would mean a great intrusion into the work of a Session. I am trying to find out what is the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point.

Mr. Davies

We are dealing with the private rights of all persons who may own land, and at some moment some Department of the Government may want to requisition it. It is the duty of this House to see that adequate protection is given to any owner of any piece of land about to be requisitioned. Is not that a matter which should be dealt with by the House as a whole and not merely through the House giving power, as it does under this Act, to some Government Department to make a general requisition when all that we can do then is, when it comes before the House, to express our assent or dissent? I do not think that that is the right way to deal with it.

I have been a long time in this House and I cannot remember a single occasion when a Bill has passed without a Member raising a constituency point on it. This is what usually happens. A Bill is presented to this House after being carefully prepared by the Department which is responsible for its production, and after long consultations with other Departments concerned so that they are satisfied that they have got a complete Bill. I have never known an instance of that without some Member of this House getting up and saying, "Clause 25 in its present form, if passed, will have an adverse effect upon my constituency." That is a matter which has never occurred to the Department concerned or to all the Departments together. That is why it is so important that this matter should be brought before the House so that we can all contribute towards general legislation which affects us all.

That brings me to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. On nearly all occasions we can with real sincerity congratulate the Home Secretary upon the manner and the method in which he presents Measures to this House—whether they are Bills or Motions—but quite honestly I cannot do that today, and for this reason. It looked to me as if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not had the time—and here I am not criticising him, for I think he is the most hard-worked member of the Government, and a great deal of our responsibilities are placed upon him—to deal with what the House wanted to know.

This is the true position. Here is an Act of Parliament which, in 20 days' time, will come to an end, unless this House petitions Her Majesty that it should be continued for another year. Frankly, I have always disliked the Act and so has the right hon. and learned Gentleman's party. In opposing this Act in 1947, the Prime Minister, who as Leader of the Opposition spoke immediately before me when he and I both opposed the Bill, said: These powers are the negation of British freedom and our way of life in time of peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1801.] I need not go through the objections that have been raised on other occasions about this Act. The Labour Government in 1950 submitted a similar Motion to that moved by the right hon. and learned Gentleman today. Might I remind the House how very wide are the powers given by this Act to the Government of the day? It is right that we should remind ourselves how this has come into existence. First, when the war broke out the House was asked to give the necessary powers to the central Government, which it has always willingly given in times of war almost without discussion, to do by Order in Council what ordinarily could only be done by legislation. The House surrendered into the hands of the central Government a tremendous power.

The House was always jealous of doing this, and, in effect, it said, "We will do it for the length of the war and for six months afterwards, but not any longer." The Coalition Government came to the conclusion that six months was too short a period, because they could not possibly deal with all the troubles of the aftermath of war in six months. Therefore they proposed that it should be continued for two years.

The Coalition Government and the Caretaker Government went out and the Labour Government came into power. Their first Act was passed in 1945 and was amended by the 1947 Act. It claimed those powers for five years in time of peace—and what is now happening? This Act will continue for the eighth year after the end of the war. What possible justification can there be for taking these enormous powers in time of peace to enable the Government to do by Order in Council what admittedly should be done by Measures brought before this House, on which there would be full debate and the consent of the House?

Let me remind the House what is being asked of us today. Here we are asked to continue an Act for another year so that by Regulation the Government of the day can do anything generally for ensuring that the whole resources of the community are available for use, and are used, in a manner best calculated to serve the interests of the community. Can anything be wider than that? Who is going to determine how the resources can be "best calculated"? The House of Commons will not do it, and it will be "best calculated" by the Government of the day and that, in effect, means that the Government or a Department of it can say, "We know what is best for the community and we will do it by Order in Council." That is tremendous power.

The Government today are asking that this should be continued for another year, although the right hon. Gentleman and his party opposed it in 1950. It was then that I wanted it limited to one year. The right hon. and learned Gentleman and his party were content that it should be limited to two years, but no more. That would have ended it in 1947. It is now 1952. Why do the Government want to continue this Act? We ought to have the most cogent reasons why they want to have it.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman read a list of the various Regulations that are partly wanted. If they had not been brought into existence at all, we should not have to ask him whether he was going to use the full power given to him by the Act. He comes to the House and says, "I am not going to use the full power. I am only going to use it partly." Surely it is right to tell the House in detail what that part-use of the Act is to be. We ought to have had that information in our hands for a considerable time so that we might know exactly what it is. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should have said, "These things are needed, and the reasons we have now to ask the House to continue the Act are the following." It may be that we would not have been able to deal with all of them by permanent Acts of Parliament, but it ought to be the duty of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to explain all of them. Why is it necessary to continue this Act at all?

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman about the Regulation on which I interrupted him? I asked whether it was still in existence. I think it is Regulation 58A, dealing with Control of Employment—direction of labour. He and I protested about it time and time again after the war was over until at last the then Minister of Labour came to the House and made the statement that the Government Department concerned did not intend any longer to make any use of it whatsoever. Is that the attitude now of the Government of the day? The country is entitled to know. Do they intend to make any use of it? Do they intend to direct labour during the next 12 months? If not, why do they continue this Regulation at all? Why not take it away altogether, remove it once and for all?

The other Regulation is that to which the right hon. Member for South Shields referred, giving power to thousands of people to enter the houses and lands of private people, and do it merely by walking in. No policeman can enter any house without having a warrant signed by a magistrate. He has a great responsibility, and is given that position because he is a policeman, but he cannot do it without a warrant. He cannot have the warrant unless he has gone before a magistrate and given good reasons why it is necessary.

All these people from various Government Departments can walk into anybody's house without having any warrant at all, except to say, "Here's my authority. That's enough, and I can walk in." Is that the attitude to be adopted by a Conservative Government? I thought, from all the speeches made by the Prime Minister, that the moment his party came into power all these controls and Regulations, which he very rightly said were a negation of British justice and of the British way of life, would go. They ought to go, and for that reason I support the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for South Shields.

6.24 p.m.

Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

The Government will naturally resist the Amendment, and I should like to try to strengthen their hands in doing so. At the same time, when I heard the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) I felt he was expressing many things on which I agree very strongly. He was true to his Radical tradition on that issue, and he will have in mind whom he reminded me of when he was speaking in that way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Whom?"] The right hon. and learned Gentleman reminded me of my mother's father, who spoke in the same vein.

I am in some difficulty in knowing how far we can go into the details of various Regulations. The right hon. Member who opened for the Opposition forestalled, as it were, some of his supporters, who have Amendments on the Paper for continuing Regulation 68CA. I want to say a word about that Regulation. I can put the points quite briefly without going into any more detail than did the right hon. Gentleman himself.

If the Regulation is removed it will cause unfairness as between county boroughs and smaller counties to whose housing authorities planning powers are not delegated. That is the main reason I wish to speak about it. The Isle of Ely is in one of the counties which has delegated no planning powers to the housing authorities in the county, and that is causing very considerable concern among those local authorities. As negotiations are going on with the local authorities, I suggest that the Minister of Housing and Local Government should, if he possibly can, enable the smaller authorities to have the final say where there is dispute between planning and housing authorities.

He would thus satisfy a great many authorities who are extremely worried about it now. They have long lists of people waiting for houses, and they are concerned lest they should be overridden by the county planning authorities. If the Minister could arrange for counties where planning authority has not been delegated to have the final say whether or not requisitioned houses should be handed back, he would do much to reassure them, and would avoid aggravating the problem facing the housing authorities. Heaven knows, it is big enough.

Perhaps I may return to a more general issue, the question which I think Disraeli would have described as "domiciliary visiting by officials." I find it very hard to applaud the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment for the Opposition as heartily as I would have done in normal circumstances, because I recollected that some of the arguments which he put forward when he was a Member of the Government are those which we on this side now put, whereas we were then putting an argument very similar to the one which he used today against the retention of so many officials with power to enter without a warrant.

I suppose that that will always happen until we have wiped away all the powers which were given during the war, or which go with a Socialist State. We shall always have such powers with us if there should be—disastrously enough—a return to Socialism in this country, and we shall have the same thing happening when the Conservatives come back again—exactly the same interchange of argument always coming from the same side of the House.

I feel that all of us do not like, in our heart of hearts, the idea of people being able to come into our homes without very good reason for doing so. All of us are to some extent anarchists. We all have a streak of anarchy in us, in that we do not like to be ordered about by anybody, and the last thing we want to have is the official who enforces the Orders invading our own homes. In fact, some of us might even go so far as wanting to put up notices outside, "Any civil servant found on this land will be shot on sight." That probably would be undemocratic, and criminal also, but nevertheless we can have our thoughts even if under the criminal law we are not allowed to implement them.

Nothing is more distasteful to the vast majority of people than that we should retain any powers of entry without a warrant or without very good cause for those powers. I accept, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, that the fact that there has not been more trouble than we have had in the past is very largely due to the care with which those who have had these powers have exercised them. That was a just tribute and ought to be endorsed, but whilst, on the one hand, legislation should be kept to the absolute minimum, what I dislike more than too much legislation is too much delegated legislation. If we can accelerate the process of ridding ourselves of these distasteful Regulations, we shall be doing something which is recovering the freedom of the country.

All legislation should be kept as short as possible and, so far as possible, should affect only Ministers and civil servants, and the public as little as possible. I believe that if we can control the activities of the Executive and its officers, we can probably benefit the people more than by giving extra powers to the Executive and to its officials. Incidentally, one of the reasons I am introducing a Private Bill is that it only affects Ministers and executives.

We have tended to get into the mood of too much legislation, and therefore I make some qualification to various of the points which have been made by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. We must be very sure that we want any of these things at all, whether in the form of legislation or of Regulation. My feeling is that we might very well go through the list again and make quite sure that we want anything from the Regulations put into legislation at all. We would probably find that we could cut down some of the proposed legislation, and the more we can cut it down the better we in this House can carry on with the job for which this House was designed; that is, to keep a watch on the administration of the Executive. The tragedy today is that all too often we find that, so far from being able to keep a watchful eye on administration, we have to indulge in Committee stages of Bills about whose necessity there is considerable doubt.

I disagree very strongly with the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in his contention that because a Bill comes from another place, the public interest is less well served. My belief is that we in this House err, if we err in anything, on the side of being too much inclined to indulge in party disputes over matters which should not arouse any party irritations whatever. In another place there tends to be a more dispassionate approach to some of these things, and on issues such as these that is a good thing. I feel no dismay at all that the Bill was started in another place, and that is the main reason why I oppose the Amendment.

Nevertheless, I hope very much that when that Bill comes to us we shall find that it has not been thought necessary to include all the things that it at present contains. Since the war we have got into a legislating frame of mind, and the sooner we get out of it the better.

6.35 p.m.

Mr. W. J. Field (Paddington, North)

In supporting the Amendment, I should like to refer to a matter which the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) mentioned in his opening remarks, namely, Regulation 68CA, which relates to the conversion of housing accommodation for non-residential purposes. I want to make a few points which occur to local authorities and their associations in their fear that this Regulation is to be revoked.

There is a great deal of disquiet about it, and no doubt hon. Members on both sides have received representations on the matter from their local authorities. The House will recollect that a similar position occurred last year. The records appear to show that the Government came to the House with the intention of revoking this Regulation and that, after listening to the representations that were made from both sides of the House in favour of its retention, they promised to consult the local authority associations. Having done so, they continued the Regulation and it is now still in force.

I cannot see that the position has changed in any way from what it was last year or that the need for the Regulation is today any less than during the last year. I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is on the Front Bench, because I should like to refer to an address that I heard his Minister make this year to the annual conference of one of the local government associations, when he expressed a desire on his own behalf for the very fullest co-operation and the maintenance of good relations between his Ministry and the local authorities. The Minister went so far as to say that in many matters of a local character the local authorities were better judges of these affairs than were the central Government.

I am perfectly sure that the Minister was sincere in his remarks. That being so, it seems a shame that in this present instance he neglects the opportunity which is afforded to him of co-operating with the local authorities by allowing the Regulation to continue until the housing emergency has passed or until, as my right hon. Friend suggested, the Regulation may be embodied in some more permanent form.

I should like briefly to touch upon some of the more important reasons why the Regulation should be continued in force and why, in particular, local authorities think that it is superior to the untested theories held by the Minister that the ends at present achieved by the Regulation can be achieved under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act.

The first thing is speed and efficiency. Under Defence Regulation 68CA, an offender can be prosecuted in the magistrates' court, a penalty can be imposed, and the matter can be settled in a comparatively short time, whereas under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act, the planning authority has to serve notice upon the offender, and I believe an appeal lies to the magistrates' court, to the quarter sessions and eventually to the Minister.

Of course, the reasons for this difference are not far to seek, because the Regulation and the Town and Country Planning Act look at this problem from totally different approaches. One deals with the housing problem and the other deals with the planning aspect of the problem, and indeed these two problems are often dealt with by two totally different authorities—one, the planning authority, and the other, the housing authority. I know that the Minister says he will make it obligatory for the planning authority to consult the housing authority before it agrees to a change of user of accommodation under the Acts, but it is my submission that this consultation will only increase the difficulties of the local authority; it means that delay will be caused while the planning authority writes to and consults with the second-tier authority. That complication has not existed before.

Again, the interests of planning and housing may clash, and the planning authority may be landed in quite a ridiculous situation. For example, it may have to refuse an owner of property permission to change the use of accommodation from residential to commercial use, despite the fact that the area in which the property is situated is scheduled, under the planning authority's own town plan, for commercial user. The property owner will then be able to tell the planning authority that in refusing permission it is going against its own town plan.

It seems to me that, while the housing emergency continues in its present form, this aspect of the problem can best be dealt with by the housing authority tackling the job locally and using its judgment, based on local knowledge. Not even in London, where the planning authority is also, exceptionally, a housing authority, does the county council desire a change in the way desired by the Government.

There have been a large number of cases in London where permission has been refused. I believe that in the last 18 months in the Metropolitan London area no fewer than 400 refusals have been made under this Regulation, and when one considers that each refusal of permission to change the user may relate to two, three or four units of accommodation, one sees how much this Regulation safeguards the loss of housing accommodation.

There is another aspect of the problem which is worrying local authorities, and it is that in a number of cases the planning authority has already given permission for a change of user, and the change of user of the accommodation is restrained only by the existence of this Regulation. Once this Regulation disappears, there will be no legal restraint whatsoever to prevent an owner of property from changing the use from residential to commercial. Indeed, I am informed that in a borough next to mine—the Borough of St. Marylebone—there is a block of some 40 to 50 flats which have gradually been emptied over the last year, apparently in anticipation of the revocation of this Regulation; and once this Regulation goes, there will be nothing to prevent the complete loss of this large block of residential accommodation to commercial use.

Lastly, I want to mention another point which I regard as of some importance. Regulation 67CA is well known to property owners and their agents. They are acquainted with its provisions and with the procedure which they have to adopt under it. If this Regulation goes, it may well be that in a large number of cases the property owner will think there is no longer any restraint on the use of property, and this will lead to an increase in the number of proceedings to be taken. They will have to be taken under the Town and Country Planning Act and, as I have pointed out, the procedure under that Act is very much more complicated and lengthy than it is under this Defence Regulation.

I fully sympathise with the desire of the Government to do away with useless Regulations, but I cannot see that there are any financial or administrative savings to be gained in this instance. Indeed, it is rather the reverse, because it is the view of local authorities up and down the country, irrespective of party, that the revocation of this Regulation will complicate rather than ease their problem. I cannot see why on this occasion the Minister does not listen to the representations which the people upon the spot have made to him.

I have tried to demonstrate to him, and they have put to him, that the revocation of this Regulation will lead to delays, frustrations and unnecessary correspondence between different departments of various local authorities. It must inevitably mean the loss of some housing accommodation in areas where this loss can ill be afforded. This is the view of the local authorities and their associations and, in London, of the County Council.

It is because of these views, expressed by the people who, in the Minister's own words, often know more than he does about their own local problems, that I ask once again that the Government should have another look at this matter so as to see whether, as they did last year, they cannot continue this Regulation in force.

6.48 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Ernest Marples)

I do not intend to be discourteous to the House in rising at this stage, but I thought it would be convenient for the House if I gave the Government's reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Field), so as to facilitate the discussion.

It is, of course, the desire of my right hon. Friend to have full co-operation with local authority associations, but co-operation does not necessarily mean agreement on every occasion. On some occasions one local authority association is diametrically opposed to another in what it wants, and my right hon. Friend cannot agree to give consent to both of them. At the same time, I would point out that merely because he has to refuse one local authority association, it does not necessarily mean that he does not want their co-operation.

Mr. Field

But surely there was no disagreement on this occasion.

Mr. Marples

The great thing with local authority associations, rather like business institutions, commercial institutions, Government Departments and local authority departments, is a natural but rather regrettable tendency sometimes to build up largish empires. I am not saying that that is so in this case, but it is something that one has to guard against.

Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

Could the hon. Gentleman give the House this information, which would be very useful: are there an appreciable number of local authorities who have agreed to the revocation of this Regulation?

Mr. Marples

Most of the local authority associations who have the powers want to retain them; most of those who do not have the powers want to get them; and that is nearly always the same with local authority associations.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

Will the hon. Gentleman explain exactly what he is trying to tell the House? Is he now saying that if a local authority approaches the Minister, and begins to negotiate, it means that possibly for that authority this Regulation will not be revoked? Is it to be a kind of bargaining between the authorities and the Minister?

Mr. Marples

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman places that interpretation on it, as it has nothing at all to do with what I said.

The local authority associations sent various points of view, some of which were raised in this House last year. They have been taken into account, and amendments made and procedure adopted to try to meet some of the legitimate points which were raised. I was pointing out to the hon. Gentleman that it does not necessarily mean that on every occasion we agree with a local authority, but merely because one does not agree does not denote a desire not to co-operate with them.

Mr. Field

I should like to get this clear. I agree that the Government has the absolute right to act on its own responsibility and to disagree with the local authority associations. The point I should like cleared is what answers were received when he consulted with those local government associations which had been administering the housing side of this problem, and the authority which, in the County of London will now administer the planning aspect of the problem? My information is that the associations of the authorities which administered the housing side, and the London County Council, are against the revocation of this Order.

Mr. Marples

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen to the explanation of what my right hon. Friend has in mind to meet these points and then perhaps he, or some of his hon. Friends, can raise other points subsequently. But I would like to deploy the idea which my right hon. Friend has in mind.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)

I think that the hon. Gentleman owes an explanation to the House, because in his earlier remarks he definitely gave the impression that the local authorities were divided on this issue. Will he tell us, because he owes it to the local authority associations, whether any associations are supporting the revocation of this Regulation, and, if so, which?

Mr. Marples

I was taking up the hon. Gentleman's point, and saying that if we necessarily disagree with the local authority associations—I do not think the hon. Lady was present—

Mrs. Castle

Oh, yes, I was.

Mr. Marples

But not in the seat she is at present occupying, because I should have been attracted by her appearance.

The hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Field) was making the point that if my right hon. Friend wanted to co-operate with the local associations he should meet their point of view. But, if he wishes to co-operate with them, it does not necessarily mean that he is in complete agreement with them. Co-operation is one thing and complete agreement is another. So far I have not referred to this Defence Regulation.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

May I interrupt the hon. Member? This is a point of great interest. I think it true to say that the hon. Gentleman has, perhaps inadvertently, created the impression that there was disagreement among local authorities in this matter. That is the only point we wish cleared up. If there are any associations of local authorities who support the revocation of this Order would he, just in order to clear away any misunderstanding, tell us who they are?

Mr. Marples

The whole of the local authority associations in this instance were consulted, but my remarks were general—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—because the hon. Member for Paddington, North, said that at one of the annual conferences of one of the local government associations my right hon. Friend indicated an intention and a desire to co-operate with the local authority associations. I reiterate that desire of my right hon. Friend. Between us we have, I think, addressed all the annual conventions of the local authority associations.

In this case, my right hon. Friend has met all the local authority associations concerned with housing and he has taken into account all the points they made. If the House will permit me to give the explanation of what my right hon. Friend has in mind, hon. Members will see how he tried to meet the legitimate fears expressed when those meetings took place.

Mr. Stewart

I am sorry to interrupt again, but I did put a plain question to the hon. Gentleman. I am simply asking him whether he is suggesting that there are any associations of local authorities who want this Order revoked? Does he make that suggestion? If not, let him say so. If he does, what are the associations?

Mr. Marples

I am going on to deal with the points raised but I want hon. Gentlemen to get this clear. I was dealing with the general issue of the desire of my right hon. Friend to co-operate with them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I will now go on to bring out the various points raised by these associations, and how my right hon. Friend tried to deal with them.

The Regulation we are now proposing to revoke provides that, except with the consent of the housing authority, accommodation, which has been used for residential purposes at any time since 31st December, 1938, shall not be used for other purposes. Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the housing authority to grant its consent may appeal to the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

That is the Regulation. Twelve months ago it was decided that these emergency powers should be dropped as early as possible; more particularly because work done by the Regulation could, since the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, which came into force in 1948, equally well be done in the normal course of planning control—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—I will explain that a little later.

The decision to drop this power was criticised by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) and several of his hon. Friends. At that time the Government had been in office for only a short time and my right hon. Friend agreed to consult again with the local authority associations. As a result of that—

Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)

May I—

Mr. Marples

It would assist me if I could finish this explanation. I have given way a great deal, and if the House wishes me to give a coherent reply it is not unreasonable I think for me to ask for a fair chance to reply.

Mr. MacColl

What we want is an accurate reply.

Mr. Marples

The objections of the local authority associations were concentrated into three main points. They said that on legal grounds planning powers could not do the job of conserving housing accommodation. That was the first point. They said it could not be done under the Town and Country Planning Act. Second, they said that enforcement procedure is very much slower under the Town and Country Planning Act than under the Defence Regulation, a point which was made by the hon. Member for Paddington, North and with which I will deal. The third point was that the revocation of the Defence Regulation involves the loss of responsibility by the housing authorities to have intimate knowledge of local conditions. Those are the three main objections which the local authority associations raised and which hon. Members opposite have in mind. Perhaps I might deal with them in that order.

The first argument was that under Section 14 (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, a planning authority in dealing with an application for permission shall have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as material thereto, and to any other material considerations. The argument of the local authorities is that, "other material considerations" must be planning considerations, and that purely housing considerations could not come within that definition.

My right hon. Friend is advised that this contention is misconceived. All demands on land use, of which the provision of housing accommodation is one, must be "material considerations" even where an authority's development plan shows an area is intended, say, for commercial use, and they have every intention ultimately of allowing commercial uses throughout the area, there is nothing to stop them refusing permission for the time being, on grounds of housing shortage, for the conversion of a house into an office. That meets one of the first points raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. MacColl

That will be tested in the courts.

Mr. Marples

Such a refusal does not prejudice the consideration by the authority of a repeated application when circumstances have changed. The associations accept the proposition that in certain circumstances it is open to authorities to grant temporary permissions for the continuation of uses which are out of accord with the development plan, and they frequently grant such temporary permissions. There is, equally, no reason why they should not give "temporary refusals" for a change of use which would be in accordance with the plan. That deals with that point, and all the advice received is to that effect. Also, paragraph 2 of the draft circular which my right hon. Friend intends to send out, states: The Minister wishes to make it clear that under the Act the planning authority, having had regard to all the material considerations, may refuse permission for development notwithstanding that the development would be in accord with their development plan. My right hon. Friend intends to tell local authorities that that is the legal position. That deals with the first point.

The second point is that the enforcement procedure under Section 23 of the Town and Country Planning Act is slow. This is a point of real substance. It is, at any rate, slower than the Defence Regulation. Whether it is slow by itself or not is another matter. It must be remembered that this House when it passed that Section in 1947 intended that there should be certain safeguards for a person who has been refused permission. This House thought it right and proper that Section 23 should be worded in this way.

When hon. Members say that it is not adequate they are really saying that the Section which was passed by the then Socialist Government is not adequate. Personally, I think that it is. The enforcement procedure involves the service of a notice on the owner and occupier of land on which contravening development has taken place, requiring that the use be discontinued. The notice does not take effect until at least 28 days after service. Application can be made within that time for permission to continue the development. If this is refused appeal can be made to the Minister or, alternatively, application can be made to the courts to determine that permission was not required. While these issues are being settled the notice is stayed.

Anyone breaking the Defence Regulation can be brought before the magistrates. That is a procedure which is always more speedy. But is it fair? There is a lot to be said for the slower procedure, decided upon in 1947, under which a man has an opportunity to put himself right with the law before criminal proceedings are taken against him under what were strictly emergency powers.

The argument can apply only to a small number of cases. We have made careful research and we have found that most people seek permission before making a change, and the few who do not make an error merely because of ignorance of the law and not from a desire to disobey. The planning procedure gives such people a chance to put things right. Under the Defence Regulation they have no chance to do that. They are prosecuted straightaway. I am not sure that the House would like that state of affairs to continue indefinitely. That deals with the second point. I do not think that what has been suggested gives a man justice at a time like this. I suggest that we can use Section 23 of the Town and Country Planning Act in such a way as to make administration reasonably certain and efficient.

The third question is that the revocation of the Defence Regulation involves a loss of responsibility by the housing authorities who have intimate knowledge of local conditions. This really hurts some of the local authorities. They see some of their powers being taken away from them. My right hon. Friend has assured the associations that there is no intention of changing policy, housing need being still acute, and that when the change in formal responsibility which we are now suggesting takes place the county councils will be told to consult housing authorities in cases where a change of use from residential accommodation is involved and to give the fullest weight to housing need.

To make this doubly sure it is proposed to make an amendment to the General Development Order under the Town and Country Planning Act requiring that local planning authorities shall consult the housing authority on any proposal which involves the loss of housing accommodation, and also to arrange for reference to the Minister of cases where there is disagreement between authorities.

Again, I wish to quote from the draft circular which my right hon. Friend has in mind to make sure that the smaller authorities cannot be overriden on any question of housing if they want to retain it for housing purposes. Paragraph 3 says: In order to ensure that the views of housing authorities are fully known to local planning authorities before decisions are taken on applications to change the use of housing accommodation"— this is only from housing accommodation to something else, and not the other way round— the Minister intends in due course to provide in the General Development Order for consultation by the planning authority with the housing authority where the planning authority propose to grant permission. Meantime, he expects this consultation to take place as a matter of course, and he hopes that in the event of a difference of opinion over a substantial amount of housing accommodation the planning authority will bring the matter to the notice of my right hon. Friend or his regional officer. The fears of hon. Gentlemen can be allayed. There is no intention of overriding the small local authority.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) quoted an instance in his constituency where of 23 cases 16 were refused. This would not matter a great deal. I think that South Shields is a county borough. In that case it would be its own planning authority. It can still make the same decisions next year, if this procedure is adopted, as it made last year. Therefore, the position of South Shields will not have been worsened if this suggestion is approved.

There is one consideration which ought to be borne in mind. That is the amount of delegation and decentralisation that takes place. If we take the Lancashire County Council as an example, there are 121 local authorities, and planning powers have been delegated to 109. The remaining 12 local authorities are in thinly populated areas and they have what is known as a sub area planning committee. That is really decentralisation, not delegation, so they have a fair chance to express their views.

Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)

Can the hon. Gentleman say how much delegation there is? Most authorities have some delegated power, but some have more than others.

Mr. Marples

The powers delegated by the county council would not include delegation of the plans for the whole county, but only of the area of the local authority concerned.

The authorities most severely affected by the disappearance of the Defence Regulation are the Metropolitan borough councils since they do not exercise delegated planning powers from the London County Council. But the proposed provision that the local planning authority must consult them before agreeing to any change of use which would involve loss of housing accommodation, and must refer any disputed case to the Minister, will bring them back into the picture. This proposal will dispense with a war-time emergency Regulation which is not a very desirable feature of life in time of peace.

Hon. Gentlemen may say, "This is all very well in theory. Will it work in practice?" Perhaps that will exercise their minds more than anything else. This morning I found that in Scotland Defence Regulation 68CA was wiped out on 10th December, 1950. The note I have is: We have had no trouble at all and no representations. Things have worked out quite all right without it. That is the exact message I received. My right hon. Friend has consulted the local authority associations and, taking into account what they have said, he has tried to meet them as fairly as possible and to safeguard housing accommodation. In Scotland, the system has worked extremely well in practice.

Mr. Pargiter

May I ask the Minister to explain how this point will be covered? In very many cases, planning permission will have been given for the altered use, but a refusal may have been given under the Regulations; in other words, the authority may think, very properly, that ultimately the proposal will be all right and that they would approve it, but, at the moment, they would withhold their permission under the Regulations.

It seems to me that the abolition of this Regulation will mean that the person who will be entitled to proceed under the planning permission which the authority have already given could, subsequently, be prevented from doing so by another resolution of the planning committee, which might revoke the permission they had given, so that the person concerned would be entitled to claim compensation for the revocation of his planning permission.

Mr. Marples

I do not know how many cases there will be like that, but it is an extremely good point, and I would like to have the opportunity to look into it.

Mrs. Castle

May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question? He has told us that his right hon. Friend consulted the local authority associations as to the proposals which he now puts forward? Will he assure the House that they are 100 per cent. satisfied?

Hon. Members

They are not.

Mr. Marples

The hon. Lady knows very well that they are not 100 per cent. satisfied, but the legitimate points which they put forward have been met by my right hon. Friend.

7.12 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Taylor (Morpeth)

I intervene in this debate in the interests of my constituency, and, in particular, of two urban districts contained in it, where there is very grave fear as to the effect of the proposed revocation of Regulation 68CA, and I want to voice the local authorities' apprehensions about this situation.

They are not satisfied that the proposed amendment which the Minister has brought forward will give satisfaction, on account of the slowness of the procedure, as compared with the direct way in which they themselves can deal with the housing situation. The members of my local authorities stand for the liberty of the subject just as much as anyone else, but at the moment they are exercised in their minds by the situation in their own area, where housing, to the members of an urban authority, is a huge problem, because the applicants for houses are on the doorsteps of the councillors practically every week. They have been hoping that some legislation would be passed that would help them to deal with their housing situation, and they are constantly reminded of the fact that people are living three, four or five in a room. These questions are exercising the minds of the local councillors.

In the urban district of Ashington, which is probably the largest mining community in the United Kingdom, land is the first consideration, because, on account of railway sidings and colliery workings, we have got to count every available bit of land as being most precious. As a matter of fact the district is almost completely built up, and therefore anything that would revoke this Regulation and place in jeopardy the local authority's powers of control and allow anyone to change houses into business premises, is a matter which causes them very great concern.

The local authority take the view that this procedure will be too slow. We all know that there is not always great harmony between housing and planning. I am inclined to think, from one particular instance which I have in mind, that the planning people think they are very superior when it comes to laying out an area. It is true that they have some great ideas, some of which I support myself, but we must remember that they also make mistakes.

Therefore, my local authorities are not satisfied, having seen the new proposals, that they will give them the necessary security in looking after the interests of their people, as they are able to do at the moment. Therefore, they are asking—and I am putting forward their plea—that this Regulation be extended for at least another 12 months.

7.17 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Marlowe (Hove)

I will detain the House for only a moment or two. We on this side are always glad to support the repeal of any Regulation which forms part of what we regard as unnecessary controls, but I agree that there is some force in the point which has been made on the question whether this is the best procedure to adopt for this particular matter of change of user.

This is a matter which has occupied the House a good deal this afternoon. I think it might well prove that the use of the planning authority by way of enforcing control may not be fully effective. Under the present procedure, those who want to ensure that there is no change of user have a very useful weapon ready at hand, in that they can lay an information against the person concerned and the matter becomes immediately effective. The procedure of using the planning authority must involve quite considerable delay, and it also provides various loopholes to the offender, who may use various procedures by which he may be able to defeat the ends of the planning authority.

I think that the best way out of this difficulty would be for the Home Secretary to adhere to the original plan, but at the same time to see whether he could not introduce some Measure which would ensure that the procedure can be put into effect a good deal more rapidly than under the planning authority.

I should like also to know what is to happen about those cases in which, up to the present, the planning authority has dealt with the matter on the assumption that the housing aspect of it will be dealt with by the housing authority. It may well be that people have got past the planning authority in the belief that the housing authority will prevent any change of user, while now that person would be able to complete the procedure, although the housing authority may not wish it to go through.

I have this problem in my own constituency. As a non-county borough, the local authority have delegated powers, and there is a pending case at the moment of a man who has completely defied the authorities. What is to happen in such cases? Once this Regulation is revoked, it becomes impossible to enforce the intention, which was to prevent a change of use. Although I approve of the idea of repealing the powers of the housing authorities, I think the planning authorities ought to be given the powers of enforcement which the housing authorities have at present.

There is only one other matter with which I want to deal, and it may save the time of the House if I deal with it now, instead of later. We are considering generally whether this is the right moment to continue in force not only Regulation 68CA, about which we have been speaking, but others covered by the Supplies and Services Act, including Regulation 51, which relates to the requisitioning of land. I find it difficult for any Minister to justify the requisitioning of another person's land in peace-time unless there are very strong reasons for so doing. I cannot help feeling that in this matter the Minister of Agriculture is not being so effective in reducing controls as other Ministers are trying to be.

The present Government have quite rightly—as they promised to do—gone through the controls which affect the country at the moment and have done their best to eliminate any which may be considered unnecessary; but I cannot refrain from being critical in this matter of the Minister of Agriculture, who I do not believe has been as enthusiastic in reducing controls as have other Ministers.

Again I speak of a particular case, of a plot of land which is under requisition as an allotment. The true owner is perfectly prepared to go on cultivating it as an allotment, and therefore there can be no national interest concerned at all. It does not matter whether Mr. Brown or Mr. Jones grows the vegetables on the allotment. In those circumstances I think it wrong that the Ministry should hold a plot of land under requisition against the true owner.

This is a substantive case which I have taken up with the Minister of Agriculture, but he insists that the land should remain under requisition. I think it is an indefensible decision. Where the equities of the case are equal and where it does not matter in the least whether the cultivation is done by the occupier or by the true owner, then I think the true owner ought to have the right to cultivate his own land if he so desires. That ought to be a matter of principle.

I hope that the few words which I have said on the subject will have the effect of stirring the Minister of Agriculture in this and cognate matters, and that he will recognise that there is a responsibility on him to go through his controls as closely as he can to see that none that is unnecessary is retained.

Mr. Paget

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman really saying that, generally speaking, he is opposed to security of agricultural tenancies?

Mr. Marlowe

No. I did not bother to explain the matter at length, and I should have thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman would have understood. Regulation 51 gives power for the requisitioning of land. Having requisitioned it, the local authority—who have the delegated powers from the Minister—can put in anybody they like to carry on its cultivation. All I say is that if the person they choose and the true owner can cultivate the land with equal success, then the true owner ought to have the opportunity of doing so if he wishes.

Mr. Paget

The sitting tenant?

Mr. Marlowe

No, requisitioned land.

7.24 p.m.

Mr. W. R. Williams (Droylsden)

As the House may know, my constituency of Droylsden is composed exclusively of four urban district councils even though we bear the designation of a borough division. Since I have had the honour to represent that division, I have never known a subject on which there has been so much unanimity between the respective urban district councils as there has been on this subject.

They have informed me of the negotiations and discussions going on between the Minister and the association representing urban district councils, and even after considering the revised ideas now put forward to the association they are still of the opinion that there is a very great weakness in the position so far as urban district councils are concerned.

The whole of my area covered by the four urban district councils is highly industrialised, and will continue to be shown as such under the development plan. It is a congested area. I gather from what the Parliamentary Secretary said—I am not quite sure that I got his figures right in regard to Lancashire, because we come under that county council—that by far the larger number of authorities are given delegated powers to do certain things, but that a few sparsely populated areas in Lancashire have not got those powers. So far as I know, the four urban district councils about which I am talking have not got those wide powers, and if the Parliamentary Secretary regards them as sparsely populated areas he is making a big mistake, because they are densely populated areas.

Mr. Marples

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the four urban district councils in his division have no delegated powers whatever from the planning authority?

Mr. Williams

No, I am not saying that. What I was trying to gather from the hon. Gentleman was whether an area such as ours would be included in the list of exceptions to which he referred.

I was saying that ours is a congested area. In addition, the prospects of extending the boundaries of the urban district councils are not at all good, with the result that we shall have to try and cover the housing requirements of the four councils by ensuring that every piece of land and every house and other building that can be made available for housing purposes is retained.

The opinion of the four councils is that unless the consent of the local authority is going to be essential, as I understand it was under the old conditions, they are going to be up against great difficulties regarding the housing of the people in the area. There is a long waiting list, and every house is of great importance. Even if only one or two houses are allowed to be converted or to be used for any other purpose than for domestic housing purposes, it is going to impose a hardship in an area such as this.

The councils have asked me to oppose as strongly as possible any suggestion of departing from the provisions of Regulation 68CA at the present time. I sincerely hope that, having regard to the urgency of the problem of housing in areas such as mine, the House will at least agree to retain the Regulation for another 12 months. During that period it might be possible for the local association, in conjunction with the Minister, to consider further what ways and means can be agreed upon to obviate the need for this. But I feel quite certain—and this is the view of the people I represent—that we should not revoke this Regulation until we are perfectly satisfied that no injustice or hardship will occur in areas like my own by so doing.

7.29 p.m.

Sir Robert Grimston (Westbury)

I am one of those who, in principle, strongly support the removal of all Regulations which it is possible to remove. But in this particular case I think there is a misgiving, not entirely confined to one side of the House, as to whether this is an opportune moment to remove from the local authorities the power contained in this particular Regulation.

I want to be quite clear as to the Parliamentary position at the present moment. As I understand it, we are not by this humble Address revoking the Regulation, and at the conclusion of this debate, if the House passes this Address, the Regulation will not be revoked thereby, but has to be revoked by Order which at a later stage can be prayed against. That, as I understand it, is the position.

In the light of the discussion we have had on the subject, I would suggest to the Minister that there are very genuine fears that the proposals he has made will not meet the case, although for my part I must say that I think he has gone a very long way to meet the local authority associations. But they do not think so. In the light of this debate, which the Minister will have an opportunity, of course, of studying in more detail later, he will be able to look at the matter again. I suggest it is not finally disposed of tonight, and that perhaps he could give an undertaking or an indication that before the Order is made revoking this particular Regulation he will see if it is possible, particularly in the light of what has been said tonight, to do anything to remove the fears which the local authorities have.

That, I believe, is the Parliamentary position. That is the suggestion I would make, to try to reach a solution which is agreeable to all parties. But I certainly adhere to the view that, if it can possibly be done, every Regulation, and particularly Defence Regulations, should be removed. In this particular case it does seem that it is an advantage to the public that they should have to go to only one authority to make applications for a change of user. I am sure it would be a matter of convenience to the public. I hope that, under the Parliamentary position which I have indicated, the Government will take the opportunity of having a look at the matter again.

7.31 p.m.

Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)

While I would not contradict the hon. Gentleman the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) with regard to the Parliamentary position I suggest that unless this provision is retained it automatically expires at the end of this year.

Let us admit straight away that, if the situation and conditions were ideal, the suggestion put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary, that the planning decision should be the decision, would be the ideal one. If we could have one general set of rules and Regulations covering that, that would be the ideal situation. However, we are not in those conditions, and, as the Minister has himself admitted, the primary consideration is the housing consideration. His circular and development order are admissions of that.

The weakness of the Parliamentary Secretary's case is this. He quite rightly says that within the 1947 Act there are opportunities for the delegation of powers, and that many authorities have taken the opportunity to delegate powers. He quotes Lancashire, which is, perhaps, one of the best of the authorities in its conception of what delegation means, and it has, to a greater extent than many other planning authorities, delegated to local authorities within its area.

But I would put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that, in so far as very many planning authorities are concerned, the powers of delegation are non-existent. There are many counties which have given practically nothing whatever to the authorities within their areas. If it is admitted, as it is admitted by the Minister's circular to the planning authorities, that the primary consideration is housing, then why not maintain for the housing authorities the power to have control over the change of use in their areas, as they have at the present time?

After all, this is a Regulation which was created for the purpose of dealing with the housing accommodation in a period of housing shortage, and that general situation still exists. Therefore, this provision should be maintained. It is equally true, I think it is only fair to say, that while the Minister has discussed with the local authorities the problem, he is far from having satisfied the minor authorities in regard to the position at the present time.

Following on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Droylsden (Mr. W. R. Williams), I would mention the Urban District Councils' Association. Many hon. Members will have received in the last week telegrams from the local authorities in their areas, and since the discussions took place with the Minister they will have received from many of these local authorities confirming letters about their disappointment at the result of the negotiations that took place.

I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that, in so far as this Regulation is concerned, the primary decision should be that of planning and of a single authority on a single application; a single decision is one that ought to be maintained in the present housing situation, with the emphasis that the Minister has given to the point that the local authorities should handle the situation.

This Regulation, which empowers housing authorities to maintain such housing accommodation as exists within their areas, should be maintained. If it is removed, then it will lead to trouble, for while it is true that in some counties there is close co-operation between the county councils and the local authorities, there are very many other counties where that close association, with mutual respect and happy, harmonious working, does not exist. Indeed, even between a county authority and a local housing authority the importance of a particular item may be a cause of considerable difference of opinion.

Where there is that difference of opinion there is bound to be a conflict, even in those areas where the relationships are of the best. I would suggest, therefore, that the far better way for the time being is this arrangement, for a further year; to maintain this Regulation in order that the housing authorities themselves may be the authorities with responsibility for the housing of the people within their areas, and have control over the housing accommodation within their areas.

7.37 p.m.

Mt. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

This is the second occasion upon which the present Government have come to the House to seek the renewal of powers given to the Government under emergency legislation substantially to interfere with, and, indeed, to control the economic life of this nation. We expected, after the Election speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, to have had a kind of legislative Guy Fawkes day when we came back—a bonfire of controls; but the hard facts of economic reality overtook the conspirators, and they come again before us for a second time to seek the renewal of these emergency powers.

The view that is taken of these emergency powers and these controls on this side of the House is this. Where they are not socially and economically necessary, of course they should be abolished. We do not want controls for their own sake, and, indeed, in the matter of controls affecting the classic liberties of the subject we on this side of the House were most enthusiastic in terminating as soon as possible any controls of that kind, and we did so when we came into office in 1945. But we still say that so long as any of these Regulations remain necessary for the well-being of our people and of the nation then they should remain in force until some substitution for them in the way of Parliamentary legislation is introduced, be it in permanent form or in annual form.

It is, indeed, most disappointing to find tonight, on the second occasion when we go through this Parliamentary exercise, that the Government, who undertook a year ago to introduce permanent Measures of legislation in place of the Regulations, have wholly failed to carry out that intention—if not that undertaking. The Home Secretary says it is because of the nature of these controls, that the problems of law that they give rise to are very complicated, and it would take a good deal of Parliamentary time to pass the Measures through. I certainly will not seek to underestimate that difficulty. But they would be substantially non-controversial. They would go through this House far more quickly than, for instance, that miserable Measure for interference with the transport arrangements of the country. They would go through the House far more quickly than the proposals for the great iron and steel industry and, if I may say so, they would do much more good to our community.

Therefore, I do not accept the excuse—because it cannot be an explanation—that the reason why we are in this chaotic condition tonight in considering these emergency Regulations is due to lack of Parliamentary time. We on this side promise the utmost good will to the Government in carrying out useful measures for the benefit of our community, but we will oppose them in measures which we think are wrong.

At the beginning of this debate we were confronted with a remarkable situation which has put many of us in difficulty in following the course of the debate, because it was disclosed by the Home Secretary, with regard to the powers which Her Majesty's Government propose to continue to exercise, and which are set out, in so far as they are powers under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, in the White Paper, that there are to be substantial Amendments to specific regulations which are to remain in force, and that in the White Paper we are not fully and properly informed as to what the Government have in mind.

There is in the White Paper only a most innocent and guileless reference to this fact on page 3, where it is stated: The final result is that the continuation of the Supplies and Services Act will keep in force the following Regulations (some of which however, it is proposed to revoke in part). That does not seem to be very substantial, but when we heard the Home Secretary it appeared that there is to be a substantial alteration in some of these Regulations, and in one or two respects, I submit, an alteration which greatly reduces the capacity and power of the Government to make good use of these emergency powers for the benefit of the nation.

There were two matters to which the Home Secretary referred which interested me greatly as one who, from time to time, has the responsibility of participating in criminal proceedings, be it for the prosecution or for the defence. They illustrate the way in which, by a kind of side-wind, the Government are introducing fundamental changes in the law—and we had no forewarning of them before this debate began. I refer to the proposal to amend Regulation 90 and Regulation 55 of the Defence Regulations.

It is true that the Home Secretary, most obligingly, did seek to specify numerically the Regulations which are to be partially revoked. But, if I may say so, he did it at a speed at which it was difficult, for me at any rate, to follow; and he did it in a way which still leaves me in some anxiety that I may have missed something of fundamental importance. However, I did note these two proposals with regard to Regulation 90 and Regulation 55, which are perhaps worth mentioning to show the significance of what is being done through the back door, and without the matter coming fully before the House.

First, it is proposed under Regulation 90 to delete the words: or does any act preparatory to the commission of an offence. I do not think that I would quarrel very greatly with the omission of those words. They added to the criminal law relating to attempts to commit an offence, a conception which many of us in the criminal courts always had great difficulty in interpreting, and great difficulty in seeking to justify, particularly when appearing for the prosecution. Nevertheless, what is proposed alters a bit of the criminal law which we have been enforcing in this country now for about 13 years, and it is done without notice or warning to the House, and with the House only being informed about it by the information being extracted from the Home Secretary by hon. Members on this side of the House.

When I turn to the other amendment in the law it seems to me to be of considerable importance, and it may, indeed, weaken the hands of the Government in dealing with serious offences against the Regulations. I must say that I am surprised that it has not been thought fit to draw attention to the significance and importance of what is proposed. The Home Secretary has indicated that under Regulation 55 it is proposed to do away with the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions to require, in certain cases, that proceedings in regard to offences under the Regulations shall be tried by way of indictment and shall not be dealt with summarily before the magistrates.

What I want to know from the Government is: Why have they seen fit to deprive the Executive of this important power? What is the reason for it? Is the reason that a less serious view is now to be taken of breaches of these Regulations? Is the reason that the black market is no longer quite so heinous as it was? Is the reason that serious infringements of building regulations are now regarded as rather less anti-social than we have hitherto considered them to be?

Is the reason that the cornering of food is considered less heinous than it hitherto was, because gradually the Government are introducing rationing by the purse in place of rationing through the Ministry of Food? Is that the kind of motivation of this decision to deprive the Director of Public Prosecutions of this power?

It is unfortunate that we have not the advantage of the presence of one of the Law Officers here tonight, because this matter concerns the powers of the Attorney-General, and I should be most interested to hear from the Attorney-General himself, in whom the ultimate decision on these matters rests, whether he approves of this important power being taken away from him. Since the war there has been a number of very important and very substantial cases concerned with breaches of Defence Regulations, some of which have resulted in Her Majesty's judges imposing long terms of imprisonment upon the offenders. These are not trifling matters with which we are here concerned. They are criminal, in some cases, to a high degree.

What is proposed, as I understand, is to prevent the Director of Public Prosecutions from being able to say, "No, I do not want this particular offence to be dealt with summarily by the magistrates." The precise provision is at page 31—for those who have the benefit of a copy of the Regulations—and is in these terms: Where proceedings for any such offence as is mentioned in paragraph (1D) of this Regulation are being carried on before a court of summary jurisdiction"— then the court— shall not deal with the case summarily if it is certified by the competent authority or the Director of Public Prosecutions, as the case may be, that there are circumstances which make it undesirable that the case should be dealt with summarily. That power is now to be taken away.

Now, there are circumstances which from time to time, make it undesirable that a case should be dealt with summarily. It is a little delicate to indicate what they are, but I can recollect one or two food prosecutions in certain areas where the composition of the bench might—if I may put it as delicately as I can—have put difficulties in the way of justice being done. In cases of that kind it is most desirable that the Director of Public Prosecution should have the power to say, "No; this is a delicate matter for the local bench to deal with. It should be dealt with by way of indictment and go to judge and jury." I want to know the reasons for this quite important changes in the powers which are given to the Government under this Regulation.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government seems to take the view that in this day and age it is rather hard on an offender against the provisions of Regulation 68CA that he might be brought before a criminal court. Let us see what the Regulation says: No person shall except with the consent of the local housing authority use for purposes other than residential purposes any housing accommodation which has been used for residential purposes at any time since the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight. Is it really so hard that, today, in a serious case where, without consent, housing accommodation is converted into business accommodation the person responsible should be punished?

I confess that I speak with a little feeling about this matter, representing, as I do, a blitzed area, one of the worst hit in the country. In my submission, a person who owns a house and who, these days, for the purpose of profit, and without consent, turns it into a shop or business premises, is acting in a way which is deserving of punishment. The Parliamentary Secretary speaks as if every technical breach of this Regulation would result in proceedings being taken; but that is not the case.

There is an inherent discretion in the authorities with regard to the institution of a prosecution against a breach of this Regulation. That discretion rests at its highest level in the State in the hands of the Attorney-General—and if it is not thought to be expedient in the interests of justice that a prosecution should be brought—perhaps because of its triviality or of circumstances which indicate that the conduct of the offender was bona-fide—no prosecution is, in fact, likely to be brought.

The authorities who are responsible for prosecutions under these Regulations are neither so inhuman nor so basically unjust as to seize upon every single technical breach for the pleasure of instituting a prosecution. Fortunately, this country is not run on those lines. Therefore, Regulation 68CA, which at present provides for the prospect of punishment in a criminal court for the offender, provides a quick and ready sanction which is still required in these days of continuing and bitter housing shortage. It is wrong that this little piece of armour from the armoury of the law should be removed without justification.

The Parliamentary Secretary indicated that all the advice he had received was to the effect that the powers given to plan- ning authorities under the Town and Country Planning Acts were sufficient to deal with this mischief of converting housing accommodation into business accommodation. All I can say is that the local authority in West Ham are very strongly opposed to what he proposes and I give vent to their opposition here.

The Parliamentary Secretary told us that he had consulted a number of local authority organisations and local authorities. Was there a single blitzed area authority which supported this proposal to withdraw Regulation 68CA? Was there a single local authority, exercising the powers of a housing authority, which supported the measure which he proposes? I should like to know. This question was put to the Parliamentary Secretary two or three times by my hon. Friends, but for some reason he did not answer it and I give him an opportunity to answer it now. Did a single local authority, exercising the powers of a housing authority, indicate their approval to the withdrawal of Regulation 68CA? I will sit down and give the Parliamentary Secretary an opportunity to reply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am not trying to engage in an old Parliamentary trick. This is a serious matter.

I am sure that he did not consciously seek to mislead the House with what he may have meant merely as badinage, but he gave the impression that there was a difference of opinion among local authorities about this matter. I understand from his silence that there is no difference of opinion and that the objection of the local authorities concerned with this Regulation is universal.

What is the purpose of his proposal? Is it calculated to increase confidence between local authorities and Parliament and the Government? Is it calculated to give greater confidence to those who are desperately awaiting for a house that this Government really means to look after their interests? Hon. Members on both sides of the House have put forward, with considerable force, reasons in law why local authorities such as West Ham believe that the simple procedure which is available under Regulation 68CA is far more effective in countering the mischief of houses being turned into shops and offices than any provisions under the Town and Country Planning Acts.

I do not think I need elaborate that point. This is a flagrant misuse of the opportunity which is now open to the Government to sweep away useless Regulations, but to retain those which are socially useful and put them into proper legislative shape. Here we have a classic illustration of the Government retaining powers of general control, yet when it comes to a practical case where there is an existing Regulation which serves a socially useful purpose all they propose to do with it is to throw it through the window and leave nothing in its place.

7.58 p.m.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

I hope that the Home Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary will listen to the pleas made from both sides of the House with regard to the revocation of Regulation 68CA. From the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary and from what has just been said, it is perfectly clear that not a single local authority charged with the matter of housing has agreed to the revocation of this Regulation. I am certain the Parliamentary Secretary would have risen and made it clear in no uncertain way if there had been any local authority of any importance which had supported the revocation of this Regulation.

I should be lacking in support of my constituents, who are very much affected by this matter, if I did not join in the voluble appeals against the suggestion which has been made. In the case of the two boroughs I have the honour to represent—Hackney and Stoke Newington—considerable use has been made of this power and they feel a great deal of dread at the thought that this weapon is being taken away from them. They have made use of it in the past and hope to use it in the future. Surely there is such an obvious necessity to use everything that can possibly help relating to housing that it is wrong in this case to take away this power.

I gather that the sole justification for removing it is that use is to be made of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947. But to any practising lawyer who is familiar with the provisions of the Act it is sheer unadulterated nonsense for anyone to say that there is the same effect under the Act as under the Regulation. The Act was passed for an entirely different reason; it is permanent legislation dealing with planning. The Regulation deals with an emergency and a necessity which exist today. If it were true that the powers in the Act could be used in much the same way, why was it necessary to retain the Regulation during the period in which the provisions of the Act have applied? The fact that nobody has suggested that before shows how ridiculous the suggestion is.

We have had practical examples of the stupidity of suggesting that these provisions could be applied. Under the Act we have questions of user, permission, planning authority, development plan and many other considerations which do not arise in this case. One matter which has been mentioned is the slowness of dealing with matters under the Act. Given a case under the Act, an astute lawyer can spin out proceedings for many months and perhaps for even a year. There is an enforcement order, an enforcement notice, the appeal to the police court and the appeal to quarter sessions, and, after that, representations may be made to the Minister. By means of these steps, delay may continue for months. Yet under the very short Regulation we have the effective method of going to the police court and punishing the offender.

The Government ought not to withdraw a Measure of this character. If the Government have any real regard to the housing situation, they will ensure that the local authorities retain in their possession this weapon, which has been very useful in the past and will be useful in future.

8.3 p.m.

Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

I support the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) dealing with the procedure adopted by the Government in this matter. It must be agreed that the speeches which we have heard during the debate lend force to the argument of my right hon. Friend who urged that the Bill which is in progress through another place ought to have been introduced in this House and should have been cleared before this matter came before us.

It has been said that measures of this character ought to be considered for permanent legislation. If it is felt desirable that this and other measures should be retained, consideration ought to have been given to their inclusion in permanent legislation. My hon. Friends and I are concerned about why the Government have taken the rather peculiar, and almost the highly unusual, course of introducing a proposal of some constitutional importance in another place before it has come to the House of Commons.

The Home Secretary was asked if he would give some undertaking even at this stage that the Bill now in another place would be brought to this House in time for it to be given some consideration before we finally part with the matters we are now considering. It seems to us to be putting the cart before the horse to be discussing measures for temporary extension now while proposals for permanent retention will come before us a month or more later. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House have reinforced the validity of that argument.

As might well have been expected, there has been much reference to what I might almost call the notorious Regulation 68CA. I ought to declare a personal interest here. I raised this matter a year ago, and if I had not done so probably it would not have been before us today. The peculiar thing at that time was that the Government had proposed to let the Regulation drop without consulting the local authorities at all, and it was only when the matter was raised in the House that any steps were taken. At that time the Government thought it was of little importance and had not in the Chamber a Minister who could deal with the matter. The Government have certainly done much better for us today.

The Parliamentary Secretary has done his best to put the case for the abolition of the Regulation. The Government have certainly consulted the local authorities and made up for their omission in that respect last time. However, it is evident that all the local authorities—not just one section of them, as he rather gave us to understand; it is the whole boiling, and it must be a rare occasion when we get so much unanimity in the local authority field—have rejected the proposals which the Parliamentary Secretary put forward, unanimously regarding them as unsatisfactory.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been bombarded with telegrams and letters expressing the dissatisfaction, not only of the small authorities, who might well be expected to take a very special interest in the matter, but also of some larger local authorities who have expressed the same view, although they are not always as directly interested as are the smaller ones.

We shall be wrong to allow this matter to pass without securing at least some undertaking that it will be looked at again, as we secured an undertaking, after a lot of trouble, a year ago. I do not see why the Minister should not follow the hallowed practice of a year ago by making a proposal and then withdrawing it after some consideration of the points of view expressed on both sides of the House. The suggested alterations do not meet the needs of the local authorities, and one can well see why. Most of the proposals depend upon certain interpretations of the Town and Country Planning Act which have certainly not been declared in the courts, and they also provide merely for consultation and also request the planning authorities to approach the Minister in case there might be any overriding of the smaller authorities. It is not surprising that this is not felt to be adequate by the local authorities concerned.

There is another matter which I wish briefly to raise. For reasons which will be fully understood, it may be that I did not properly catch the comments made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he gave his rather express list of minor alterations which were proposed to the Defence (General) Regulations. I may not have caught the name of this particular Regulation as he was going through them, and if I am in error I apologise in advance, but I am interested to know whether the Government propose to revoke Regulation 53, which deals with the requisitioning of property other than land. This referred particularly to the original war-time problem of finding housing accommodation for the homeless, especially in London, and the very wide use of those powers that the authorities in London undoubtedly made. Is it now felt that adequate use is being made of other powers which exist for compulsory purchase to warrant the complete withdrawal of this requisitioning power?

I am not saying it is wrong to do away with it. I appreciate that it is an extremely expensive operation. It is expensive to the Treasury and the Government of the country, without giving any comparable advantage in ownership of property. The property remains in the hands of the private owners and large sums of public money are expended on it. As a matter of information, I think we should know what the proposals of the Government are, and whether they are satisfied at the complete withdrawal of this power, which has been little used in recent years.

I do not want to make any further general comments. I am sure that many of my hon. Friends wish to follow up some of the points that have been made, but I hope it will be possible to have an assurance from the Government Front bench, before we part with these Regulations, that they will be prepared to review this matter which has been the subject of so much discussion and upon which so many pleas have been made from the Government benches as well as from this side of the House. In fact, I do not think there was anyone who supported the point of view adopted by the Treasury Bench in regard to Regulation 68CA. I appeal to them to make a clear assertion that they will review the matter in order to satisfy what I feel to be a proper concern on the part of local authorities.

8.13 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

I have very deep sympathy, somewhat Parliamentary in character, for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and that on two counts. In the first place, he has had some difficulty with the local authorities. I quite appreciate that he cannot go round and see every local authority in the country. I happen to have seven in my constituency, of all the three possible kinds of county districts. In those circumstances, the hon. Gentleman consults with the associations of local authorities, as no doubt he consults with corresponding bodies of other organisations. I am told, and I gather from his silence that it must be true, that every single association of housing authorities in the country has told him outright that they object to the discontinuance of this Regulation 68CA, and in those circumstances it puts him in a difficulty.

I have tried to think what he ought to do. I remember all sorts of assertions by the Tory Party as to the value that should be placed on the independence of local authorities, and on the extent to which we, when we were in power, interfered with them. Their expectations were reasonably high that their interests would be advanced as soon as the Tories came back to office. What a shock has been administered to them at such an early stage by the throwing overboard of yet one more of the small matters which were put before the country as a reason for supporting the Tory Party. It must be disquieting and most disturbing to the local authorities, and on that account I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman.

I see the hon. Gentleman is smiling, and, therefore, I am going in a moment to give practical effect to my sympathy by making a real suggestion to him which I hope he will use to get himself out of his difficulties. I sympathise with him because not only has he been stabbed by hon. Members and right hon. Members on this side of the House with intent to kill, but he has been stabbed in the back by hon. Gentlemen who support him not with intent to kill but apparently without any wish in this respect officiously to keep him alive. That is really something about which one sympathises with him.

I am not going to say very much more about the merits of this matter. I said just now that the local authorities in my Parliamentary division did not want this Regulation to be discontinued, and the reason is perfectly obvious. In the last resort this must be a housing matter. We were told that the Defence of the Realm Regulation under discussion does not give a sufficient right of appeal and consideration to the person evicted. I will put this to the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not believe that this Regulation is very much used, but its existence and the threat of its use is an invaluable weapon in the hands of the local authority, because the alternative of recourse to planning legislation means that the enforcement notice has to have at least 28 days to run and there is the question of how often a county council meets. We know the difficulties of that.

I do not think I am exaggerating the matter if I say that the man who offends against what I am sure we all intend and who unnecessarily and wrongfully converts housing accommodation into non-housing accommodation can play the statutory fool for three months with impunity. That is too slow, and if we do this we deprive the local authorities of powers that they ought to have. After all, they are elected bodies. They depend on these people for their votes to get back on to the council. They are not going to be unreasonable about transactions in a matter of this sort, and I do not believe there is any real hardship in it at all.

If authorities prosecute and get convictions, it remains with the court to impose the penalty and no doubt it will be proportionate to the character and type of the offence. So I do not believe there is any real hardship in the least about the Regulation, but there is very real hardship if we weaken the hands of the local authorities at this moment in a matter which is of vital importance to every authority in the country which has a housing list and is finding it difficult to deal with it at the moment. That would include most of them. It would include all those I know. Offhand, I cannot think of any housing authority which is not in that position. To weaken their hand at the moment simply because we would like to scrap as many Defence Regulations as possible, or because it sounds nice to say we are scrapping them, is an anti-social performance. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary does not mean it, and I am going to offer him a nice way out.

I have a Private Member's Bill coming on for 13th March. If he will continue this Defence Regulation until my Bill has become law, I will give him a bit of the Bill in which to put this Regulation into permanent form. The title of the Bill is "A Bill to amend the law relating to local authorities." If ever there was a generous offer from an Opposition back bencher to help a Parliamentary Secretary out of a difficulty, there it is I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give me a little bit of attention in return.

There is a pretty good galaxy of talent on the Government Front Bench. There often is, but it does not include at the moment anyone from the Ministry of Agriculture. I wonder why, I wonder if the allotment holders are getting a curious dig made at them by the Government. As a class, allotment holders are a representative crowd. They are good, honest, hard-working people who cultivate their gardens for their own and for the national benefit. We all have a soft spot for them. I will not exclude hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Under Regulation 62AA, allotment holders were able, subject to considerable safeguards, to deal with the owners of dogs found straying on their allotments. The allotment holders had to put up a notice to warn people outside the allotments, and if a prosecution was brought, it was a defence to prove that the owner had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the dog would not stray on the allotments. My dog, alas, is dead, but if the Parliamentary Secretary and I were going out for a walk with a dog and we came to allotments, we should, as law-abiding citizens read the notice and put the dog on a lead, and all would be well. Nobody could object to that.

This Regulation was quite a small thing, a sensible thing. If it has been sensible for all these years, why is it any less sensible now? Dogs have no votes; allotment holders have. If this is purely a political matter, the Government had better keep the Regulation going. There is an hon. Member of this House who wants to introduce a Bill to prevent dogs from doing damage to livestock, agriculture and so on.

Mr. Bing

Would my hon. and learned Friend take the opportunity of expressing the view that this particular Regulation is singled out in the Campaign Handbook for 1951 of hon. Gentlemen opposite as one for which opportunity should be found to transfer it to the Statute Book? The Book says: It is a useful and minor amendment of the present law. Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend might suggest that it could also be added to the Bill.

Mr. Mitchison

I am very much indebted to my hon. and learned Friend. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman opposite who is bringing in a Bill about dogs might offer to his hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench a bit of that Bill in order to make this little piece of dog legislation permanent. Seriously, it is too silly to withdraw this Regulation now. This is a kind of minor canine burnt offering on the altar of ideology, and might be dispensed with.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. A. Hargreaves (Carlisle)

I want to return to Regulation 68CA and to deal with the point made by the Parliamentary Secretary when questioned on the effect of withdrawal of the Regulation in cases where planning permission had been obtained for a change of user, subject to postponement. The Parliamentary Secretary did not see the point, but it was recognised immediately by other hon. Members. It was quite clear that where planning permission was given for a change of user in the case of dwelling-houses, it was subject to postponement under the Regulation.

If the Regulation is revoked, there will be no means of preventing the immediate carrying out of these alterations. The Parliamentary Secretary made an error when he suggested that this Regulation was not so essential in the case of a county borough, because the housing and planning authorities were the same; though he recognised that where the county council was the planning authority they might not be as well informed of conditions in the district and might not have the same intimate knowledge of the damage that would be caused by a change of user, as the smaller body. He skated very lightly over the difficulties that would face the planning authority in London if we were to clear away this Defence Regulation.

I return to the position as it concerns the county borough. The point taken by the Parliamentary Secretary is that the sanction of the Regulation, and the fact that people who are responsible for altering housing premises to other uses can be punished, is of outstanding importance. I do not, however, regard that as the best use of this Regulation.

An owner may want to change the use of a dwelling-house. My experience is that the most informal approach is made to the housing authority. Not even plans are prepared. The value of the Regulation is not that someone can be punished for illegally making alterations, but that an informal approach can be made to a housing authority without any expenditure by the owner of the premises in the preparation of plans and so on; and the principle as to whether the housing authority are prepared to allow the alteration is settled without any difficulty or trouble whatever.

I would go even further. The housing authority, in the same informal manner, can negotiate with the owner of the premises. I have known them to conduct the negotiation on the basis that a change of user might be agreed to if the owner would permit some part of the premises to continue in housing use; that is to say, the place could be converted into office or factory accommodation, but plans should be made for a caretaker or watchman to continue in occupation. This has happened in the most informal of discussions in innumerable cases. The Parliamentary Secretary has admitted that in the vast majority of cases applications to housing authorities are made along those lines. People who are punished for already having carried out alterations represent only a small minority of cases.

I want to deal with the matter as it confronts the planning authority within the same county borough. To take a city that the Parliamentary Secretary knows very well, if in Liverpool an area of old houses, well constructed, has over a period time been in some measure converted—say, before 1938—to other uses, is it not reasonable to expect that over a period of time the planning authority would regard that area as one of industrial development, possibly for the establishment even of obnoxious trades? That, however, is no good reason for permitting the remaining housing accommodation in the area to go out of use altogether.

We all know that if that planning authority has already committed itself to the development of an area as an industrial one for the growth of certain trades, it would be extremely difficult for them, without the existence of the Regulation, to go back upon decisions they had already made for the use of that area for factory, trading or office development, and to say that although they knew it was a trading area, they would still permit parts of it to continue to be used for dwelling-houses.

I have been a member of a housing authority for 22 years and I know of many thousands of cases where this Regulation has been of the utmost value in the housing emergency, which still continues. That, to me, is the outstanding point. There is no question of the emergency clearing away.

There is a profound belief among the housing authorities of the country that this is a most useful weapon in their hands, because of the sanctions it enables them to apply and because it is an easy and quick way of conducting friendly negotiations with those who propose alterations in dwelling-houses. I hope the Government will have second thoughts about this matter, recognising that the Regulation has been of great advantage to housing authorities and that the proposed transfer of these functions under the 1947 Act would be of little value by comparison with the Regulation which I ask, in the interest of housing authorities, should be continued in force.

8.36 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

I sincerely hope that the Government will decide to think again about Regulation 68CA. I ought to say, perhaps, that the local authority in the constituency which I represent—the Metropolitan borough of Fulham—is concerned about this matter, although, indeed, it is hardly necessary to say so, because in that respect the Metropolitan borough of Fulham does not appear to be different from any other local authority in the country.

The Parliamentary Secretary has had arguments hurled at him from in front and from behind, and a little time ago from his flank by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). But, in addition, although he put his argument before us with the patience and care and diligence which the House is accustomed to expect from him, it was apparent that he had no positive enthusiasm for the case he was making. The whole of his argument came to no more than an attempt to rebut certain objections to allowing 67CA to lapse. At no time did he present to us any positive advantage which would be gained by allowing this Regulation to disappear.

True, he attempted to rebut some of the arguments which have been urged in criticism of the decision to which the Government so far adhere. For example, he dealt with the legal argument and told us that the planning authority would be able to take housing considerations into account. We learn from what has been issued by the Conservative Party Central Office that that judgment is based on what is called the best legal opinion available. Views may differ, of course, as to what is the best legal opinion available. But whatever view one takes about that, we have to admit that even the best legal opinion can sometimes be mistaken as to the judgment which ultimately will be given by the courts in a matter of this kind.

What, therefore, does the Parliamentary Secretary's argument about the legal position amount to? At the moment, while 67CA is in force, we have a method which we know with certainty can be relied on to produce the desired result, if it is invoked. Instead, we are to be given a method of which we can have only an opinion that it probably will turn out all right when it is put to the test in courts.

Dr. Stross

Before my hon. Friend leaves the point that, allegedly, the best legal opinion has been obtained and has given such a view, is it not fair also to bear in mind, on the other side, that the legal opinion of all the town clerks in the country is against that view?

Mr. Stewart

Indeed, yes; I am obliged to my hon. Friend for bringing out that point. But even if we were to do what the Government have apparently done in the matter, and set all that aside, they can on no argument suggest that it is the better course legally to allow 67CA to lapse. The most that the Parliamentary Secretary would be able to say is that possibly it might be no worse.

When we examine not the legal certainty but the swiftness and suitability of the procedure, there again he was able to suggest to us that the procedure under Regulation 68CA lapses and we have to rely on the planning Act. The procedure, he argued, would not be so slow as some of the critics of the Government decision have suggested it would be. He was certainly not able to suggest that the procedure under the planning Act will not be slower than under Regulation 68CA. Once again, we are, on the Parliamentary Secretary's own showing, obliged to face the situation that the position which the Government are to create is inferior, from the point of view of the public interest, to the position which at present exists.

Then there is the question of the rights, powers and opportunities of the smaller local authorities. There, again, the Parliamentary Secretary suggested to us that because of the discussions that have been held and because of the circular that is to be issued the local housing authorities will not be so seriously disadvantaged as we might have supposed. It is true that they are no longer to have the power which they enjoy at present to forbid the turning of residential property to commercial use. They are to lose that power.

What are they getting in exchange? That the planning authority to which that power goes, and which may legally be able to take housing considerations into account—we cannot be certain of that and it has, as a rule, not so close a knowledge of the housing problem as the local housing authority possesses—is to be required, indeed obliged, to consult the housing authority. But those consultations can be as unsatisfactory to the housing authority as the Minister's consultations with the local authorities on this matter have been to them.

Mr. Marples

If the housing authority is not satisfied the matter will ultimately be referred to the Minister. In other words, the planning authority cannot override the housing authority.

Mr. Stewart

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be clear about this. I understand that the planning authority is obliged, without question, to consult with the housing authority. I do not think it is perfectly clear that if the consultation does not result in agreement there is an obligation to refer the matter to the Minister. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can clear up that point.

Mr. Marples

Yes. If the hon. Member reads my speech carefully tomorrow he will find that I said that if the housing authority does not agree, any case of dispute must be referred to the Minister.

Mr. Stewart

I was looking recently at the text which, I understand, the Conservative Central Office put out and it is not so explicit as the hon. Gentleman.

Suppose that matter is referred to the Minister. Can he have cleared up the point as to whether that Minister has the legal authority to override the planning authority's decision in the matter and uphold that of the housing authority? It would be useful if we could be clear on that point; perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary could clear it up. I think he will agree that I am not trying to make difficulties for him; he gave us a careful and diligent explanation. I am sure, however, that he will see that his silence in this matter does mean that in the last resort the planning authority can get its way.

The greatest pressure and dissuasion might be brought to bear on it by the housing authority and the Minister but it would appear—this is the position I am putting forward and the Parliamentary Secretary is not contradicting me—that if a housing authority chose to stick to a decision in defiance of what the planning authority thought right, and in defiance of the opinion of the Minister, it could, in fact, stick to it. Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree, and I believe the House will be of the opinion, that that is a position less satisfactory, both for the public welfare and for the status of local authorities, than exists at the present time.

So on all of the three counts which the hon. Gentleman has introduced; certainty of law, swiftness of procedure and the harmonious relations of local authorities, all we can be assured about, even if we take the most optimistic view of the points still uncertain, is that perhaps the position will only be a little worse and not a great deal worse than it is at the present time. And if we take a less optimistic assumption on the points legally in doubt, the position may be a great deal worse.

I would ask the hon. Gentleman, because I am sure he is as much moved as any of us by the serious nature of the housing problem at the present time, to put to himself this question: what positive advantage is to be obtained by letting this Regulation lapse? Apparently, on the argument I have been endeavouring to put before the House, from every angle one looks at it, the position which will result if it does lapse will be worse than the position at the present time. We have not been given a single consideration to suggest that anything will be better as a result of this Regulation lapsing.

It would appear that all the local authorities who have been consulted want the Regulation retained. I am encouraged in that view, because, speaking as one who not long ago was a junior Minister to one who now occupies that office, I felt certain that if the hon. Gentleman had up his sleeve any substantial body of local opinion in support of the disappearance of this Regulation he would have produced it earlier in the debate, and he would have been quite entitled to do so.

It is true that he has told us that the position it is proposed to create by letting this Regulation lapse exists in Scotland and is working very well there. I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows that one cannot argue in that casual fashion from Scottish law and Scottish local government and Scottish housing planning and legislation, to the position in England. Before we could accept that argument, before he could even convince himself, we should have to know what was the full legal and local government background prevailing in Scotland; and I certainly would not attempt to pronounce on that matter. Against that, we have instead the present conditions under Regulation 68CA. That position has been satisfactory in England, and that is much more relevant to the considerations before us on this Amendment.

As we know, the housing emergency is still extremely acute. The people of this country, I think, show an amazing patience and common sense in the face of it. They are prepared to accept arguments about it, if they believe those arguments are well founded, which draw their attention to such inevitable matters as the limitation of labour, materials, finance and capital investment.

But they will become extremely impatient if they feel that a queue of people waiting for better housing is being held up, if only by a single case, through something which could easily be remedied; and if they see residential accommodation being turned, unnecessarily and undesirably, to non-residential purposes, simply because the Government and Parliament, through inadvertence or ill-advice, have thrown away a legal safeguard against waste of accommodation. They will feel that they have a real grievance against the Government and the House.

I would ask the hon. Gentleman—he has not to do more than this—to say that he has listened with care to the arguments advanced from both sides of the House, and that he will ask his right hon. Friend to look at this matter again before the decision is irrevocably made. If he does that he will earn the respect of all of us in this House and I think he will find that he will have earned the gratitude of many people who have their own bitter, personal reasons for watching the housing situation closely.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) suggested, I do not know how seriously, that there was one channel by which the Parliamentary Secretary could get the principle of this Regulation into permanent legislation, perhaps with such modification as experience may show to be necessary. If the hon. Gentleman does not accept that rather unusual offer, cannot we wait, instead of letting the Regulation drop now, until the Government have brought forward their permanent legislation to deal with the matters now dealt with by Regulation which they propose to enshrine in permanent legislation?

I think that the hon. Gentleman would find that the Government could get safeguards against the misuse of accommodation such as those in this Regulation, put sensibly in some permanent form. It should not take very long to do that. Surely, until it is done it would be better to keep this Regulation rather than, for literally no good reason whatever, to fall back on an alternative which, on the hon. Gentleman's own showing, is in every respect inferior to the working of the Regulation itself.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)

I am glad that I have been called upon to speak if only for the interesting personal reason that it is now some two years and 10 months since I had the opportunity of addressing this House. I do not say that my absence was entirely sought by me. During the time I have been away I have gone through a process of political transit. I have gone from the relative insecurity of suburban London to the political sanity and good sense of Northern Yorkshire.

It can be said about the Cleveland division, apart from its political good sense, which is outstanding, that it is a far flung area which contains no fewer than six local authorities. Five are urban district authorities and one is a borough council. They are rather mixed in their political composition, as one would imagine in an area of that kind. Some have Labour majorities. There is at least one with a solid Conservative majority while there are others which follow the older tradition in local government of independence of any political party.

But I would say to the Parliamentary Secretary that they are all—to my knowledge—agreed at present on one matter. They dislike intensely the proposal of the Government to drop Regulation 68CA. There might be a reason for dropping it if times were normal. If the hon. Gentleman and his friends had made some really far-reaching progress in solving the housing difficulty, then it might be different. I would not take away from the hon. Gentleman any of the credit which he claims for his right hon. Friend's housing achievements, although our opinions on that subject might be mixed. I am certain that he thinks that very good progress has been made but even he would not dare to say that the national housing problem is in any sense solved. Of course, it is not.

In fact, very sensibly, the hon. Gentleman does not claim that the need for some kind of instrument is not still there, but he tries to argue that the broader sanction given by town and country planning is sufficient. I want to put this consideration, which I do not think has been mentioned in the debate so far, to the Parliamentary Secretary. There are areas in various parts of the country, and certainly in my own constituency, where there is a steady social and economic movement away from the use of premises for purely residential purposes to their use as business and commercial premises, yet there are a considerable number of houses which remain in the same areas for residential use.

Of course, if an application for keeping these premises in residential occupation is made on purely planning grounds, there may not be sound planning grounds for keeping them in that state, but if, on the other hand, the application was made on the ground of purely housing needs, there would be every reason, in present circumstances, why the situation should remain as it is. After all, it is the housing authority, the genuine local authority, that knows the housing needs, while the planning authority is bound, under the Act, to be somewhat remote from the facts.

That brings me to another point, which I want to put as fairly as I can, as well as with reason and good feeling, to the Parliamentary Secretary. During the time that I have been absent from the deliberations of this House, I have had the opportunity to do perhaps a little more broad political reading than one has the common opportunity to do here. One difficulty about being a Member of Parliament is that one becomes more and more ignorant as time goes on. I have been reading much literature issued by the busy publicity department of the hon. Gentleman's party, and the point which is made continuously in regard to local government is that the decision should be made by the people on the spot.

The effect of this present change, however, is that the decision will not be made on the spot by those knowing the local housing needs, but will be made by the more distant planning authority. It seems to me, therefore, that, from the point of view of published Tory Party doctrine, the proposed change is a somewhat remarkable one. That would not be a good reason, in the ordinary way, to win my support but I think that in all the circumstances it might commend itself to the hon. Gentleman.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), it was stated that in the event of a dispute an appeal could be made to the Minister, but that might well take a long time, even if the Minister, in the long run, had the power to act. The appeal is bound to take a period of weeks, months or even longer, while, all the time, it is socially essential that the local housing authority should act even if the planning authority disagrees.

The hon. Gentleman has been attacked from all sides of the House—true, in the nicest possible way, but, nevertheless, attacked. There has been a continual barrage from this side of the House, and much sniping, from time to time, from his own back benches, which is natural because, after all—though it may be strange to remember it—hon. Gentlemen on the other side receive the same resolutions from local authorities as we receive. There is an admitted sense of unity in the House tonight on this question of Regulation 68CA.

I want to suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary most respectfully and modestly that he is a man of flexibility. [An HON. MEMBER: "They all are."] My hon. Friend says that all hon. Members of the Conservative Party are flexible, but I am sure that, on this occasion, the Parliamentary Secretary could bend with open decency, and, in the interests of his own party as well as housing needs, accept in present circumstances that this Regulation should continue.

9.0 p.m.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

I should not be in order in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) on a maiden speech because it was not one, but it was received with the kindness and courtesy with which maiden speeches are traditionally received in this House. Therefore, I think I might be permitted to say how glad we are to see him back once again and that we look forward to his further contributions to our debates.

I want to make a real cri de coeur to the Parliamentary Secretary on the question of Regulation 68CA. I have the sad distinction of representing one of the worst hit suburbs of London. There is no other constituency in the country that had such an appalling time as Deptford experienced during the war.

One quarter of the houses in my constituency were built before 1870, two out of every three of the remainder were built between 1870 and 1916, and every single house in Deptford suffered damage during the war. Two thousand of them were destroyed, and there is left to the people of Deptford a hideous legacy of brokendown, decaying and poor houses.

The tenants of these houses have suffered very considerably indeed. They were in the front line during the war and they behaved as the rest of the people of London behaved, with extreme courage and tenacity in carrying on with their work. They are entitled to say to the Government, whether it be a Labour Government or a Tory Government, that they should have the very first priority in getting better and new accommodation.

For what are they asking now? They are asking that nothing should be put in their way in getting new accommodation, and the Town Clerk, the members of the borough council and the people on the housing committee who know the requirements of the constituency intimately and who understand all the problems are saying that the removal of Regulation 68CA will produce problems which will necessarily interfere with the progress they want to make.

I want the Parliamentary Secretary to consider this. These are the people who put up a stern and obdurate resistance to the night and day attacks made on London during the war. Consider them now. They did not have such a good time during the war, and they have not had such a wonderful time since the war. If only the Government will reconsider their decision to withdraw Regulation 68CA and will regard it as a piece of permanent legislation, they will earn the thanks of the housing authority in my constituency and of the housing authorities of all the blitzed boroughs of London.

9.3 p.m.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

I rise not for the purpose of closing this debate, but merely to raise, without any disrespect to Regulation 68CA—the importance of which I see most clearly—the question of another Regulation which it is proposed to omit from the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act and which has been referred to this afternoon by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison). It is a Regulation of very great importance and ought not to be lost sight of.

It is Regulation 62AA which was a Regulation under which we had power to deal with the intrusion of dogs on allotments. Since the last Government went out of office and the present one came in there has been a good deal of feeling that the present representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, who on the political level are composed very largely of big and successful farmers, have, in fact, shown a good deal less consideration for the amateur food producer than did the last administration.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), both before and after he became Minister of Agriculture, took a very great interest indeed in looking after the amateur food producer, who is no mean producer of food in this country. He produced a very great deal indeed.

Since we left office there have been a long line of unfriendly actions towards these amateur producers, and this dropping of Regulation 62AA is the last in the line. Lord Hudson, speaking in another place, has already addressed a very vigorous, though friendly, appeal to the Government, which I should like to reinforce tonight, by asking them to reconsider this. If by dropping this Regulation we were doing anything that would help to get rid of needless Regulations, I could well understand it, but by dropping this Regulation we do nothing at all of that sort.

It is argued by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture that the Regulation was introduced to protect unfenced, war-time allotments. I had four and a half years at the Ministry, and during a large part of the time I was the Chairman of the Allotments Council, and I say that that was just not so. The purpose of this Regulation was to protect all those who spent a large part of their time trying to grow food on allotments in urban areas. It is not true to say it was intended for unfenced, war-time allotments, and that now that the war is over there is no need to continue it.

The hon. Gentleman argues, in the second place, that the allotment holders have the right of recourse to the ordinary law of the land. But that costs a lot of money, and it is of no use pretending that that is a great help in this case. Had it been, we should never have had the Regulation in the first place. Even when the allotment holder has gone to court, the dog still has his bite. He has his first bite, and that is the defence. One does not get very far by this means. There was the case of the chap who suffered an enormous loss of food because of a dog, and he lost the case because it was said the dog had not been known to do that sort of thing before.

The Minister of Agriculture and the Parliamentary Secretary are being thoroughly inconsistent. They vie with each other almost every week-end to see who can make the most blood-curdling speech about dealing with dogs that savage the sheep and interfere with the farmers. Here we have professional farmers very worked up about what harm dogs do to professional farmers, but at the very moment when, quite rightly, they are worked up about that, they remove the Regulation that protects the amateur farmers. It is really not very fair. If the one sort of farmers need protection, then the others do, too.

I do not want to labour the point, and I am very grateful for having had the chance to mention this matter amongst all the others that have been mentioned tonight. I plead with the Government to recognise that there is no good case this year for dropping this Regulation, and that the chap who puts a lot of money, effort and interest into producing food on his allotment needs the protection of this Regulation. It is really not fair to him to withdraw the Regulation under which the person who allows his dog wilfully to stray on allotments, to foul them, to tear them up, is not made responsible. It is a very poor reward for the allotment holder.

The National Allotments Society is a grand body and represents an even grander body of people, and it has friends on both sides of the House. It knows that this Regulation is of value. There were not a lot of prosecutions under it, but the position under it was better than it was before the Regulation. It was brought in under Lord Hudson when he was a distinguished occupant of the benches opposite. It is silly to drop it.

I ask the Government to reconsider it. If they do, they will be highly thought of by many people who would not think of them highly for any other reason. I hope that by that reason, as well as the others I have adduced, the Government will be persuaded to think again about losing this Regulation. The dropping of it will do no good, but will do a lot of harm. Even if the Government do not restore this facility and power in this form, I hope they will find another opportunity of restoring what is contained in the Regulation.

9.10 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)

Tonight we are debating the Act and the Regulations which depend upon that Act which, in the main, control the economic life of the country. The Regulations contain a great many other things as well to which we ought to give some attention, but in the main they contain the chief economic controls without which it would be quite impossible for the country to continue.

We are discussing these Regulations in the shadow of a growing economic storm. If one looks even at the export figures published today one sees them running 5 per cent. down on last quarter, and with a 7 per cent. fall on last year. Whole schemes have been built up on the basis predicted by the Chancellor that we would have an increase in production, but we are faced with a period of falling production, and it is against that background that the House ought to consider whether this is the time to be casual about the Regulations upon which the economic safety of the whole country will depend.

One thing which has been obvious about this debate has been its casual nature. When I intervened to ask the Home Secretary why we were removing the Defence (Encouragement of Exports) Regulations he said, quite casually, "I do not know. I cannot be expected to bear everything in mind." But these are the Regulations which provide for setting up a council to promote the sale abroad of textiles. There may be a very good reason for doing away with them. There may be a great number of reasons. But one would have thought that at least the Minister responsible for textiles would have taken the trouble to be in the House and to whisper to the right hon. and learned Gentleman why it was that these Regulations were to be done away with.

Looking at the White Paper itself one sees that it probably did not occur to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this was so, because the White Paper contains what may be a mistake, or perhaps merely an indication of the way in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman's mind works. If he would turn to his own White Paper he will see that it says, on page 2: the following Regulations of the Defence (General) Regulations. and it deals with the Regulations which are to be removed. Then if he looks at the bottom of the page he will see Regulation 78. That, of course, is one of the Defence (General) Regulations, and the White Paper goes on to say: and the Defence (Encouragement of Exports) Regulations. But the Defence (Encouragement of Exports) Regulations are not Defence (General) Regulations at all. They come in quite another part of the book. They have nothing whatever to do with Regulation 78, to which they are joined. They are obviously there by a misprint, and one would have thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, if there is already one misprint in his White Paper, would have at least noted the misprint and then inquired which were the Regulations that had been stuck in by mistake. But not a bit of it. He just comes to the Box and says, "I do not know."

The House has a right to hear from the responsible Ministers which are the Regulations that are being done away with, and why they are being done away with. We are told, first, of Regulation 47BB. There may be a very good reason for that, but we should hear something from the Minister of Transport about this important problem. When a question of this sort about transport comes up, where is the Minister? Why, planning to suppress discussion on transport; working out a Guillotine programme so that we cannot even discuss the matter on the Bill, and, therefore, too busy to come to the House when we are revoking a Regulation which refers to his Department.

Next we have 54A, the power to permit nuisances where necessary. Perhaps it is not necessary to have that power any longer, but at least we ought to hear about it.

Then we come to Regulation 58AE, which seems to be a matter for the Minister of Fuel and Power, because it concerns the training of persons employed in the mines. There may be very good reasons for doing away with it, but we ought not just to throw aside the mining training scheme without one word from any responsible Minister as to why it should be done.

Regulation 60, which is a very important Regulation dealing with the safety of workers in factories, is also to be thrown away. We have had no explanation from the Minister of Labour. It has not been suggested that the factory inspectors think that this Regulation can be done away with. There may be all sorts of reasons for it, but it is difficult for hon. Members to work out the effects of these Regulations, particularly in the way in which they are dealt with in the White Paper.

Then there is the Regulation dealing with the modification with regard to medical prescriptions. There may be a very good reason for revoking that. Drugs may now be available. But it was a very good Regulation in its day and we should know a little more about why it is being modified. Then there is the removal of the penalty for allowing dogs to stray on allotments. It is not being very fair to the public to put into the handbook on which one fights an Election—and upon which everybody makes his speeches—a statement saying that this Regulation is to be made permanent and thus hope to get the votes of the allotment holders. The hon. Member may remember what he said in his own campaign guide: There are a number of Defence Regulations which are not controls in the usual sense of the word, but rather, minor and useful amendments to pre-war statute law (e.g., Regulation 62AA, which allows penalties to be imposed if dogs stray on allotments). Opportunity should be found to transfer these to the Statute Book. It was all right when hon. Members opposite were getting the votes of the allotment holders to say that they were going to put this Regulation on the Statute Book; but when they consider the big farmers who are not so interested in allotment holders and feel that they are tiresome competitors, hon. Members opposite think that a Regulation of this kind can be quietly revoked during a debate that is so dubious that nobody will notice it.

Then there is the penalty with regard to keeping pigs, hens and rabbits in Scotland. Why England was exempted from it by a previous modification I do not know, but at least we might have heard something from the Secretary of State for Scotland. We are always told by hon. Members opposite how important it is that there should be a great number of Ministers representing Scotland. Apparently there is also another rule that none of them should ever speak in the House for fear that they would give away the whole of the fraud.

Then there is the Regulation concerning the delegation of the functions of the Minister of Agriculture. That is a Regulation of considerable importance because local agricultural executive committees derive their powers from it. We have had no explanation why this Regulation is going. Then there is the Regulation with regard to the supplementary provisions as to the control of undertakings.

What is much more serious than the Regulations which have gone are the general remarks thrown out quite casually by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the course of the debate. He said that he intended to modify the Regulations in all sorts of ways which no one on this side of the House can understand. Some of these existing Regulations are of far greater importance than others. The amendment of an important Regulation such as Regulation 55 or 58AA is a major matter and the dropping of some other Regulations is a comparatively minor matter.

Why did the right hon. and learned Gentleman conceal, in his White Paper, the nature of these major alterations which he was making in the important Regulations and stick in a lot of Regulations about keeping pigs and hens in Scotland, as if they were all the changes he was making? The House has been very seriously deceived in this matter and I think it would be fairer to adjourn this debate so that we may have a real opportunity of considering the matter when we have read his speech—because some hon. Members were not here when he spoke. We should have an opportunity to consider the very important changes he has made in the law.

It is equally important to look at the form of what we are doing, because one of the biggest demagogic tricks which took place in the last Election was the suggestion made by all hon. Members opposite that these Regulations were all unnecessary and all one had to do was to put back the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends and they would put them into a form in which the House of Commons would be allowed to debate them. When we come here to debate them, we do it under the shadow of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Guillotine and of his right hon. Friend's Closures. We do it all the time under the view that we can only have a very limited discussion.

But that was not how the right hon. and learned Gentleman got returned to Parliament. He was returned to Parliament as a result of a promise to have full Parliamentary discussion. Does he remember what he wrote, or what was written for him, in "Britain Strong and Free." It was: The war-time emergency legislation must be thoroughly overhauled. Such powers, but no more, as are required for the present critical situation should be incorporated in new statutes requiring annual renewal. Where is any new statute—after a year? It is not here at all. There is not one requiring annual renewal.

The difficulty that we are in, and the difficulty recognised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and other hon. Friends when they made proposals in the course of the last Parliament was that this legislation, the first introduced in the House after the war, was, obviously, of a transitional type. We tried at a later stage, by putting them all in the Schedule, to bring the Regulations up each year so that they could be renewed. That is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman promised everyone in order to get their votes—that the Conservative Party would renew them every year. The Election manifesto goes on: New orders will have to be made under these new Acts, and thus all the regulations and Orders under emergency powers will have to be reviewed by Parliament. Parliament should exercise much more rigorous control of all delegated legislation. What happens? When we put down on the Order Paper the very Amendments required to carry out the promise on which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was elected, we are accused of obstruction. That is the practical way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite implement their pledges. It is worth while the House as a whole realising that.

Nothing has been the subject of a more demagogic method of attack than the Supplies and Services Act. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South proposed that we should put it into a better and more convenient form, Lord Woolton, speaking in Bradford, in June, 1949, on behalf of right hon. Gentlemen opposite—his speech was reproduced in their campaign handbook which was one of the things upon which they proceeded to fight the General Election—said: I urge the public to remember in particular this threat to their freedom—the Supplies and Services Act It was not "going to be renewed" then; it was a "threat" to their freedom. It is worth noticing that Lord Woolton went on to call it … the Supplies and Services Act, the S.S. Act. Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman blush to sit there with his right hon. Friends to reintroduce the "S.S. Act"? What did Lord Woolton say about the "S.S. Act" and those who introduced it? … the instrument whereby the public will be kept under perpetual control. It must not be allowed to become the law of this country. The people who propose it must be rejected by the electorate. This demagogic attack was not confined to the more irresponsible Members of the party opposite; it was not confined to people like Lord Woolton, who are not in any sense responsible. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal, a highly responsible Minister, in 1950, when we were considering the Act, laid down what should be the policy not for the Labour Government but for any Administration of which, as he put it, he might have the honour to be a member. He said: I do say, however, having gone so far, that I think that all parties of the House of Commons, not only those who sit on these benches but those who sit below the Gangway and those who sit opposite, ought to serve notice on the Administration—I do not know"— the right hon. Gentleman was speaking when there was a Labour Government in power— … what Administration will be here in 12 months' time. … In fact, it was his Government and he was then sitting on those benches. … but the machinery will go on whatever the political heads—that we expect the Administration to make a very firm review of these orders, rules and regulations and to say which ought to be made at once a matter for legislation—some very important legislation, and some eminently suitable for Fridays—and which should be scrapped altogether. Then he went on to make a threat which has not been implemented, because this is what the Leader of the House then said: If there is no change at all in 12 months' time, then the House of Commons will be very critical of the Administration … to have a bureaucratic Administration with vague powers in the background, is obviously an easy way of governing the country through administrative action, and much easier for a larger majority than for a smaller majority, as I said at the beginning of my remarks. Even so, all this corpus has to be looked at and has to be pruned down, and we serve notice that in our view this has to be done within the next 12 months."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 2517–18.] He went on to say that he did not mind the Act being passed for one more year.

Last year we called his attention to these words. He replied, in effect, "We are going to do all this but just give us another year to carry out our promises." Why have they not done so? Are we not to have any answers at all from any right hon. Gentlemen opposite on this aspect of the matter? It is of some importance, I should have thought, to fight an Election with this as one of the principal subjects in the Election, and then to go on disregarding it and all the things that have been said here in the House of Commons. We ought to know more about this.

I think I can speak for all my hon. Friends on this side of the House when I say that we believe, generally speaking, that the powers which are contained in the Defence Regulations are those, which while they have to be brought up to date in many respects, are absolutely essential for the safety of the country, and there may be even more need for them than there has been in the past. It was only because we possessed those powers that the Labour Government, from 1945 to 1950, were able to see us through a dangerous economic period. [Laughter.]

It was a very dangerous economic period, and it is no use hon. Members opposite laughing when we recall that every piece of lend-lease from the United States was cut off with the rapidity of a snap of the fingers. Who knows but that an economy that is based on the idea that there will always be aid from the United States might not all also be placed in similar difficulties by a sudden change of policy. We should be prepared for all sorts of difficulties, many of which are already looming on the economic horizon.

The real gravamen of my charge against the Government is the total irresponsibility with which they deal with this matter. There have been no answers to any of the major issues. There have been no replies to any of the questions that are really of vital import to the country. What about Regulation 55? What line do we take from that? What about Regulation 58A? The right hon. and learned Gentleman will remember what his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in 1950. He made a strong attack on both these Regulations. He said: Let me take another example. We object equally strongly, although this matter affects corporations and institutions more than it does individuals"— I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman put in that piece; we know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is equally tender to individuals and corporations— to the intensely wide terms of Regulation 55, which is, perhaps, the most notorious of all these Regulations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 173.] This is the Regulation, above all others, upon which the economic safety of the country depends, and we are entitled to have a responsible reply on that matter from a Minister and not from a junior Minister.

It is no use someone like the Home Secretary getting up and, in speaking about the revocation of the Encouragement of Export Regulation, which is concerned with textiles, declaring, "I do not know about that; it is a technical matter." The encouragement of exports in our textile trade is not a technical matter. [Interruption.] If the right hon. and learned Gentleman has learned the answer since I will willingly give way to him. If he has not learned the answer at least I am entitled to make my criticism of him.

Here we are revoking a Regulation which on the face of it is designed for the encouragement of textile exports. I do not say that there may not be an excellent reason why this should be done. What I do say is that there is a ridiculous irresponsibility on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in what they are doing, for they do not know the reason for it.

This is a very serious issue. If we pass from these Regulations without being certain of Government policy in regard to controls, and unless we have a statement from some responsible Minister on the economic plan with which the Government are going to deal with controls, this House will have lost a great part of its control over the economic future of the country.

It may be more serious. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite got back into the House by promising that the House of Commons would be the place where these things would be decided. If they now proceed in this cavalier fashion, history will not excuse the right hon. and learned Gentleman, just because he was so busy with other things, that he did not bother to brief himself and put before the House of Commons the intentions of the Government.

History will not excuse any hon. or right hon. Gentleman who takes part at this moment in stripping this country of those economic powers and safeguards on which the livelihood of every person in Great Britain depends.

9.32 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

It was an agreeable change to find the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) speaking at this stage of the debate. It is a somewhat odd consequence of the system of second ballot. The greater part of his speech was based on a wholly genuine misapprehension of the procedure involved in these Regulations, one which it was very surprising to find in him.

Again and again he referred to changes which are to be made in certain of the Regulations, and he said, with his habitual emphasis, that the House had a right to know why—as he then put it rather less elegantly—they were being "done away with. "The doing away with, if I may adopt the hon. and learned Gentleman's vocabulary, will be effected in the normal way by the tabling of a Statutory Instrument. There will be facilities, in accordance with the procedure of the House, for debate. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is in doubt about that procedure, I shall be happy to give him any necessary information.

He was constructing a thoroughly unsound argument in the large part of his speech in which he indicated that he and the House should know more, at this stage, of the precise changes that will take place. All that has happened is that, in giving the House the general review of the matter, my right hon. and learned Friend has moved this Motion, indicating the general trends of policy in connection with the exercise of delegated legislation. All that has happened is that the House has been given additional information. So much for the larger part of the complaints which the hon. and learned Gentleman saw fit to make.

I will, out of courtesy to him, reply to the broad point, to which he appears to attach great importance, about the reason for the abandonment of the Defence (Encouragement of Exports) Regulations. I agree with him that any Regulations of that sort naturally attract the attention of hon. Gentlemen, at any rate of those whose study of them does not go beyond the study of the name. The position is that the provisions of these Regulations in respect of levy arrangements in an industry in connection with exports have been replaced by the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947. The hon. and learned Gentleman will find Section 9 particularly pertinent to this point.

It was necessary to retain the Regulations after that Act came into force in connection with organisations set up under them. I understand that the last two organisations to which those Regulations relate, and which were, therefore, the reason for keeping those Regulations in force, have announced their intention to wind themselves up. Consequently, the Regulations are no longer required and any future activities of this sort can be conducted under the permanent statute which is already part of the law of the land.

Before I refer to one or two of the arguments that have been adduced in the course of the debate, which has ranged over a fairly wide field, there are one or two general considerations which the House would expect me at this moment to put before it when we are asking the House, not, as part of the debate would I think have suggested to a good many hon. Members, to abolish the whole system, but to keep in effect a very substantial body of Regulations.

In reply to the speech on that point which was made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), who always speaks with such authority and feeling on these subjects, I would deploy the case for the maintenance of a good many of these Regulations on these grounds. Apart from other matters, we are not, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to indicate, in a state of normal peace. There is what is in substance a war raging in Korea, and something of the same sort in Malaya. That state of affairs is directly relevant to the necessity to keep in force the Regulations—46 and 47AE, I think—which relate to the making of arrangements for shipping for and towards those theatres of war.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked in terms why it was necessary to maintain in effect any of these Regulations. Apart from those powers needed in connection with war-like operations—operations which, I am sure, every hon. Member wishes to see conducted as efficiently and successfully as possible—there is also dependent upon the continuation of the main body of these Regulations the whole of the systems of food and fuel rationing, control of raw materials, control of building materials and operations, and a large part of the price control system. Equally dependent upon it to a considerable extent is opencast mining.

Therefore, there are very large parts of the system of our administration which would, if these Regulations were, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to suggest, not renewed on 10th December, come to a sudden stop with a dislocating effect which I do not think it is necessary for me to emphasise. It is right that I should say that, because I, like the right hon. and learned Gentleman, approach this question from the point of view that it is necessary for any Government seeking to continue these powers to justify them by very real practical necessities. I think that the philosophy behind our attitude to this question is one which would be not wholly uncongenial to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Perhaps I may also make this general comment. It is much less dangerous to entrust powers of this sort to a Government whose approach to these problems is as I have indicated than to a Government—were there to be such a Government—which had a tendency or a bias towards undue and excessive interference in the affairs of individuals. If one is to entrust the key of one's wine cellar to anybody, it is wisest to entrust it to a confirmed teetotaller. I except from that, of course, the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), whose zeal on this subject is such that I know he would take a hatchet and destroy the bottles.

But I think there is a certain force in the contention that a Government whose approach to the problem is that of this Government can be trusted not to take or use excessive powers, and, indeed, the fact that a good deal of this debate has consisted in hon. Members opposite trying to force on this Government powers which the Government with equal pertinacity refuse to accept, is a very clear indication of that truth.

Equally, our record in this matter over the past year justifies this claim. My right hon. and learned Friend gave in detail, and I need not repeat, the very large number of Regulations which in whole or in part have been or will be dispensed with. Equally, the House will have heard with pleasure of the reduction which we have been able to make in the number of officials with powers of entry into business, and still more into private, premises. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) thought we might reduce it a little further. We are always looking at this problem very much with that attitude, but I am bound to say that we already manage with far fewer than were apparently found necessary by the Administration of which he was so distinguished a member.

As one of the big reductions is in a Department associated with Her Majesty's Treasury, I may perhaps be allowed to enlarge on one aspect of the matter. We are reducing the number of officials of the War Damage Commission and the Central Land Board who have powers of entry into private premises from a total of 885 to a total of 55. I would stress, as my right hon. and learned Friend stressed generally, that that fact, so far from involving any reflection upon the officials concerned, indicates the exact converse; it indicates the confidence which they have built in the public mind which makes it possible for them largely to operate without these powers. The small minority who are to retain the power are necessary only to deal with rather special classes of case.

Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)

There are no claims.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Member says there are no claims. He cannot be aware of the postbag which I receive from hon. Members on that subject.

As an indication of our general attitude, the fact that we are asking the House to extend for one year a considerable body of powers and Regulations does not mean that they need to continue in force for the whole of that year.

Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)

The hon. Gentleman said that last year.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I said that last year, and the House sees that that has now been implemented to a very substantial degree. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that corroboration. I hope I do not need to reassure the House that as soon as it becomes possible to dispense with any power, we shall not hesitate to do so. We look at the matter from the point of view which I have already indicated—each power has to justify its retention.

I cannot add very much to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government upon the subject of Regulation 68CA. I think all hon. Members will agree that he gave with great clarity and force the reasons which have caused his right hon. Friend to reach that decision. I need not assure the House that it was a decision taken after very careful thought and consideration. I cannot hold out hopes of it being reversed. Needless to say, in the way normal with Ministers, at any rate in this Government, what has been said in this House will be studied but it would be quite wrong to raise false hopes of reconsideration of that Order.

My right hon. Friend, however, authorises me to say this: he has indicated that he will require planning authorities to consult with housing authorities before giving permission to changing the use of a dwelling. He is prepared in addition to do his best to place a further requirement on the planning authority to refer to him for decision any case involving a substantial amount of accommodation where an agreement between the authorities is not reached. I hope that that will be of help in allaying any fears there may be.

Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)

Does that statement mean that the requirement will be for the planning authority to refer to the Minister for decision?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The words which my right hon. Friend authorises me to use are "will be referred to the Minister for decision."

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

Is that quite independent of zoning?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think the statement is perfectly clear. I make it on behalf of my right hon. Friend, and if the hon. and learned Member will permit me, I prefer not to add to it.

The Amendment before the House, to which the right hon. Member for South Shields, who moved it, did refer, though I think very few other hon. Members did, should, as a matter of courtesy, be dealt with. The Amendment would involve a Bill, which I understand was receiving its Second Reading in another place today, first going through all its stages there, then through all its stages in this House and then proceeding in the normal way to receive the Royal Assent, no doubt by the normal procedure of a Royal Commission.

If this Amendment were accepted, only after that procedure had been completed and the Royal Assent given would it be possible for this House and another place to deal with the Motion with which the House is dealing tonight. It would then require to be presented by Her Majesty's Government and the necessary Order would then be made. Even from the strictest and most technical point of view, if the whole body of Regulations is not to lapse—I understand it to be certainly not the desire of the right hon. Gentleman that it should—the whole of that procedure would have to take place before midnight on the night of 9th-10th December.

Equally, I think hon. Members will agree that matters of this importance ought not to be left to be dealt with at the last minute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to have that support from hon. Members opposite, who I thought were suggesting precisely that we should do so in respect of this Motion. It would obviously be quite unreasonable to leave matters of this importance to be dealt with with only a few hours to spare and with, in a technical sense, uncertainty as to their position. For that reason, it does not seem practicable to adopt the course which the right hon. Gentleman urged.

Nor, I submit to the House, is there any real necessity for so doing, because the power to revoke Regulations remains and there seems to be no very real practical difficulty in allowing a Bill to take its normal course and making the necessary revocations of the Regulations. The procedure is well known and would not involve submitting all these important matters of procedure to undue rapidity and to a perhaps somewhat precarious finish in the last few days or hours. Accordingly, although the right hon. Gentleman put his case with his usual moderation and force, it does not seem that, in dealing with a matter of this very considerable significance, the procedure he proposes and the advantages he envisages from it outweigh the very solid practical considerations involved.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) referred to Regulation 51. I think he had in mind its operation in connection with agriculture. As I am sure he is aware, if one leaves the agricultural argument out of the picture, the Regulation is required in connection with the Armed Forces by the Service Departments, for the housing of the homeless by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and in connection with opencast coal by the Ministry of Fuel and Power.

The hon. Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) did not, I think, fully appreciate the Parliamentary procedure that will operate in respect of the revocations or variations when he referred to them being effected by a back-door method. They will, of course, be effected by precisely the same method by which the late Government effected similar changes, and in a way, whatever may be its merits or demerits, with which this House is perfectly familiar.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) referred to Regulation 62AA, relating to trespass by dogs on allotments. Anything which the right hon. Gentleman says on agricultural matters is received, at any rate by me, with great respect. But there are one or two facts which I think are material to the decision. In the first place, I am assured by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture that the records of his Department do not show one single prosecution under the Regulation.

The right hon. Gentleman may argue that none the less it has some value in terrorem as a deterrent. I think the answer to that was given by the Lord Chancellor in another place today when he observed that dogs cannot read notices. For the allotment holders there remain, of course, their full rights under the civil law. It is also pertinent to remember that the Regulation applies only to a certain limited category of allotments, in fact a category which I understand is rapidly diminishing.

The suggestion appeared to be that this ought to be made permanent. In that case, I am bound to remind the House that when the Allotment Act of 1950 was in Committee, the then Administration, of which I think the right hon. Gentleman was a member, rejected a new Clause moved to effect precisely that. It is therefore perhaps a little inconsistent if, two years later, he thinks this ought to be made permanent.

The real thing is, I think, to some extent a matter of balance and proportion. It is a question of whether, seven years after the end of the war, it is justifiable to maintain the machinery of Defence Regulations for the creation of a special specific criminal offence to deal with a subject of this sort. Though one may appreciate and fully understand the feelings of allotment owners, none the less if we are ever to reduce the amount of wartime and emergency legislation, it really is necessary to look at these matters to see whether in the circumstances of today the creation of a criminal offence of this sort, over and above the right to engage in civil law actions by the people concerned, is justifiable. I can say at once that my hon. Friend asks me to make it clear that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and the Department have not slackened in the slightest in their desire to stimulate and encourage food production. They desire in every way to secure its continuance.

Mr. Bing

If in fact the argument the hon. Gentleman is putting forward is so valid, would he explain how it was that in his own Campaign Handbook this Regulation was singled out as one most suitable of all the Regulations to be enacted into permanent legislation?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. and learned Member will appreciate that at the time when that document was produced we were not in possession of the facts which were on the records of the Ministry of Agriculture, in particular of the fact which I have given to the House that no prosecutions of any sort under this Regulation had been made. Hon. Members surely must regard that as a relevant consideration to the justification for the retention or otherwise as part of the permanent law of a provision of this nature.

It is the fact that the records of the Department disclosed just that. In those circumstances it is a new factor which people of reasonable and adaptable minds, who are not so rooted that they cannot adapt their ideas to the facts, will take into account. Indeed the administration of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been a great deal better if they had been able to adapt some of their pre-conceived ideas.

Mr. G. Brown

The hon. Gentleman has mentioned what happened in 1950. Will he accept it from me that this new fact, which was only discovered after his party came to power in 1951, was given to them during the debates of 1950?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Gentleman knows that facts may be given in one way or another. It is far more satisfactory to establish the facts from the records. Indeed, if those facts were given by the right hon. Gentleman during the debate of 1950, why did he advise his hon. Friends to vote against the proposal to make this part of the permanent law.

Mrs. Castlerose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member who has the Floor of the House does not give way. It is out of order for another hon. Member to stand.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The House will do me the credit of saying that I give way with what some of my hon. Friends regard as excessive frequency. I have followed that practice this evening. I hope that the hon. Lady will excuse me. I have other arguments to bring forward.

Those are, I think, the major arguments produced, apart from that of the hon. Member for West Ham, South in respect of the variation of Regulation 55. That, as he rightly pointed out, involves the possibility of smaller penalties being imposed upon persons who commit offences against the Regulations. That, again, is a good example of the need for a moderate and balanced approach to the question of these Regulations. Offences which in time of war require in the national interest to be punished more severely than their ordinary merits would perhaps demand, ought not to continue so to be punished in somewhat different times. Therefore, it seems right not to seek to bolster up the old system of emergency legislation by exaggerating the penalties above the level which the type of the offence would justify.

I think that this alteration is a very good example of the approach which this Government make to this particular problem and of the desire not to keep in force provisions — and particularly severely penal provisions—which could only really be justified by the exigencies of immediate and urgent war. On that issue, I am bound to say that we are right in present circumstances to secure that that somewhat unusual procedure, with its somewhat severe penalties, is abandoned.

It does seem, indeed, from the speeches made in criticism of the Government's proposals today that, with the exception of the attitude of the right hon. and

learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery, the general criticism has been, not that we are asking for excessive powers, but that we are not asking for enough. That is a very gratifying tribute of confidence in Her Majesty's Government, but that should not lead us from the practical approach which we have taken of not asking for, and not accepting, any power which cannot be justified by the practical necessities of the situation.

As my right hon. and learned Friend said, we have been through these Regulations in detail. We have done our best to dispense with those that are not immediately and urgently justified by the actual existing situation. That process has enabled us to dispense with a certain number, and that attitude of mind remains for the future years, but we do submit to the House that, in the circumstances in which this country is placed today, the Regulations whose continuance we recommend, and the Acts upon whose continuance, of course, all these Regulations depend, do require in the national interest to be renewed.

We give—as we have given, again and again—the assurance not to maintain greater powers than the actually existing situation demands. We give the assurance that we shall watch them carefully to make sure that excessive powers are neither held nor sought, and therefore, with confidence, we ask the House to carry this Motion to renew the Act for a further year and permit these powers to be used in the national interest to the best of our ability.

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

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 215; Noes, 207.

Division No. 11.] AYES [10.3 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Baker, P. A. D. Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)
Allan, B. A. (Paddington, S.) Baldwin, A. E. Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)
Alport, C. J. M. Banks, Col. C. Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Barber, Anthony Birch, Nigel
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Barlow, Sir John Bishop, F. P.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Baxter, A. B. Black, C. W.
Arbuthnot, John Beach, Maj. Hicks Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Beamish, Maj. Tufton Boyle, Sir Edward
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Braine, B. R.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Holland-Martin, C. J. Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.) Hollis, M. C. Osborne, C.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Hope, Lord John Partridge, E.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Perkins, W. R. D.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Horobin, I. M. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Bullard, D. G. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Pitman, I. J.
Bullock, Capt. M. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Powell, J. Enoch
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Burden, F. F. A. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Profumo, J. D.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J. Raikes, H. V.
Campbell, Sir David Hurd, A. R. Rayner, Brig. R.
Carson, Hon. E. Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Redmayne, M.
Cary, Sir Robert Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Remnant, Hon. P.
Channon, H. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Renton, D. L. M.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Robertson, Sir David
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)
Cole, Norman Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Robson-Brown, W.
Colegate, W. A. Kaberry, D. Roper, Sir Harold
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Keeling, Sir Edward Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Russell, R. S.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Lambton, Viscount Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Cranborne, Viscount Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Leather, E. H. C. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Crouch, R. F. Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Scott, R. Donald
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Lindsay, Martin Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Linstead, H. N. Shepherd, William
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Snadden, W. McN.
Davidson, Viscountess Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Spearman, A. C. M.
Deedes, W. F. Low, A. R. W. Speir, R. M.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Donner, P. W. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stevens, G. P.
Doughty, C. J. A. McAdden, S. J. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm McCallum, Major D. Storey, S.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Summers, G. S.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Sutcliffe, H.
Erroll, F. J. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Fell, A. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Teeling, W.
Fisher, Nigel Maclean, Fitzroy Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Fort, R. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Foster, John Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Touche, Sir Gordon
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Manningham-Bullar, Sir R. E. Turner, H. F. L.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Marlowe, A. A. H. Vane, W. M. F.
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd Marples, A. E. Vosper, D. F.
Godber, J. B. Maude, Angus Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Gower, H. R. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Gridley, Sir Arnold Medlicott, Brig. F. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mellor, Sir John White, Baker (Canterbury)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Molson, A. H. E. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Nabarro, G. D. N. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield) Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Wills, G.
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Nield, Basil (Chester) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Nugent, G. R. H. Wood, Hon. R.
Hay, John Oakshott, H. D. York, C.
Heald, Sir Lionel O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Heath, Edward Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.
Hirst, Geoffrey Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Adams, Richard Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Clunie, J.
Albu, A. H. Bowden, H. W. Collick, P. H.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Bowles, F. G. Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Bacon, Miss Alice Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Cove W. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Brockway, A. F. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Bartley, P. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Crossman, R. H. S.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Daines, P.
Bence, C. R. Brown, Thomas (Ince) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
Benn, Wedgwood Burke, W. A. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)
Benson, G. Burton, Miss F. E. Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)
Beswick, F. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Bing, G. H. C. Callaghan, L. J. de Freitas, Geoffrey
Blackburn, F. Carmichael, J. Deer, G.
Blenkinsop, A. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)
Blyton, W. R. Champion, A. J. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Boardman, H. Chapman, W. D. Edelman, M.
Edwards, John (Brighouse) King, Dr. H. M. Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Kinley, J. Shackleton, E. A. A.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Lewis, Arthur Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Lindgren, G. S. Short, E. W.
Ewart, R. MacColl, J. E. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Fernyhough, E. McKay, John (Wallsend) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Field, W. J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson),
Fienburgh, W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Finch, H. J. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Follick, M. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Foot, M. M. Mann, Mrs. Jean Sorensen, R. W.
Forman, J. C. Manuel, A. C. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Freeman, John (Watford) Markham, Major S. F. Sparks, J. A.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mayhew, C. P. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Gibson, C. W. Mellish, R. J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Glanville, James Mikardo, Ian Stress, Dr. Barnett
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mitchison, G. R. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Moody, A. S. Swingler, S. T.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Sylvester, G. O.
Grey, C. F. Morley, R. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Grimond, J. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mort, D. L. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.) Moyle, A. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Hamilton, W. W. Murray, J. D. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Hannan, W. Nally, W. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Hargreaves, A. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Timmons, J.
Hastings, S. Oliver, G. H. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Hayman, F. H. Padley, W. E. Viant, S. P.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Paget, R. T. Wade, D. W.
Herbison, Miss M. Palmer, A. M. F. Watkins, T. E.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Pargiter, G. A. Weitzman, D.
Hobson, C. R. Parker, J. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Holman, P. Paton, J. Wells, William (Walsall)
Holt, A. F. Peart, T. F. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Houghton, Douglas Plummer, Sir Leslie White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Hubbard, T. F. Popplewell, E. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Porter, G. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Wigg, George
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Proctor, W. T. Wilkins, W. A.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Rankin, John Williams, David (Neath)
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Reeves, J. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Jeger, George (Goole) Rhodes, H. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Johnson, James (Rugby) Richards, R. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Keenan, W. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Kenyon, C. Ross, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Royle, C. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 203.

Division No. 12.] AYES [10.14 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Birch, Nigel Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Bishop, F. P. Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)
Alport, C. J. M. Black, C. W. Cole, Norman
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Colegate, W. A.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Boyle, Sir Edward Conant, Maj. R. J. E.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Braine, B. R. Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert
Arbuthnot, John Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.) Cranborne, Viscount
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.
Baker, P. A. D. Brooman-White, R. C. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Baldwin, A. E. Browne, Jack (Govan) Crouch, R. F.
Banks, Col. C. Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Han. P. G. T. Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)
Barber, Anthony Bullard, D. G. Crawder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Barlow, Sir John Bullock, Capt. M. Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)
Baxter, A. B. Bullus Wing Commander E. E. Davidson, Viscountess
Beach, Maj. Hicks Burden, F. F. A. Deedes, W. F.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Campbell, Sir David Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Carson, Hon. E. Donner, P. W.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Cary, Sir Robert Doughty, C. J. A.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Channon, H. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm
Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Raikes, H. V.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Rayner, Brig. R.
Erroll, F. J. Lindsay, Martin Redmayne, M.
Fell, A. Linstead, H. N. Remnant, Hon. P.
Fisher, Nigel Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Renton, D. L. M.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fort, R. Low, A. R. W. Robson-Brown, W.
Foster John Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Roper, Sir Harold
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Galbraith, Comdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Russell, R. S.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) McAdden, S. J. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
George, Rt. Hon Maj. G. Lloyd McCallum, Major D. Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Godber, J B. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Gower, H. R. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Gridley, Sir Arnold Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Shepherd, William
Hall, John (Wycombe) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Snadden, W. McN.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Maclean, Fitzroy Spearman, A. C. M.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Speir, R. M.
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Stevens, G. P.
Hay, John Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Heald, Sir Lionel Marlowe, A. A. H. Storey, S.
Heath, Edward Marples, A. E. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Maude, Angus Summers, G. S.
Hirst, Geoffrey Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Sutcliffe, H.
Holland-Martin, C. J. Medlicott, Brig. F. Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Hollis, M. C. Mellor, Sir John Teeling, W.
Hope, Lord John Molson, A. H. E. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Morrison, John (Salisbury) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Nabarro, G. D. N. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Horobin, I. M. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Nield, Basil (Chester) Tilney, John
Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Nugent, G. R. H. Touche, Sir Gordon
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Oakshott, H. D. Turner, H. F. L.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Odey, G. W. Vane, W. M. F.
Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J. O'Neill, P. R. H. (Antrim, N.) Vosper, D. F.
Hurd, A. R. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hondon, N.) Ward, Miss I (Tynemouth)
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Osborne, C. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Partridge, E. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Kaberry, D. Perkins, W. R. D. Wills, G.
Keeling, Sir Edward Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Pitman, I. J. Wood, Hon. R.
Lambton, Viscount Powell, J. Enoch York, C.
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Leather, E. H. C. Profumo, J. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Drewe and Mr. Shudholme.
Adams, Richard Castle, Mrs. B. A. Forman, J. C.
Albu, A. H. Champion, A. J. Freeman, John (Watford)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Chapman, W. D. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Bacon, Miss Alice Collick, P. H. Gibson, C. W.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Corbet, Mrs. Freda Glanville, James
Bartley, P. Cove, W. G. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)
Bence, C. R. Daines, P. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Benn, Wedgwood Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Grey, C. F.
Benson, G. Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Grimond, J.
Beswick, F. Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Bing, G. H. C. Davies, Harold (Leek) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Blackburn, F. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)
Blenkinsop, A. Deer, G. Hamilton, W. W.
Blyton, W. R. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Hannan, W.
Boardman, H. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hargreaves, A.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Edelman, M. Hastings, S.
Bowden, H. W. Edwards, John (Brighouse) Hayman, F. H.
Bowles, F. G. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Henderson, Rt. Hon A. (Rowley Regis)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Herbison, Miss M.
Brockway, A. F. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Hewitson, Capt. M.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Hobson, C. R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Ewart, R. Holman, P.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Fernyhough, E. Holt, A. F.
Burke, W. A. Field, W. J. Houghton, Douglas
Burton, Miss F. E. Fienburgh, W. Hubbard, T. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Finch, H. J. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Callaghan, L. J. Follick, M. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Carmichael, J. Foot, M. M. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Hynd, J. B. (Altercliffe) Padley, W. E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Paget, R. T. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Palmer, A. M. F. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Pargiter, G. A. Swingler, S. T.
Jeger, George (Goole) Parker, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Paton, J. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Peart, T. F. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Plummer, Sir Leslie Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Hum, S.) Popplewell, E. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Keenan, W. Porter, G. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Kenyon, C. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Proctor, W. T. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
King, Dr. H. M. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Timmons, J.
Kinley, J. Rankin, John Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Reeves, J. Viant, S. P.
Lewis, Arthur Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Wade, D. W.
Lindgren, G. S. Rhodes, H. Watkins, T. E.
MacColl, J. E. Richards, R. Weitzman, D.
McKay, John (Wallsend) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wells, William (Walsall)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Mann, Mr. Jean Ross, William Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Manuel, A. C. Royle, C. Wigg, George
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Schofield, S. (Barnsley) Wilkins, W. A.
Mayhew, C. P. Shackleton, E. A. A. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Mellish, R. J. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Williams, David (Neath)
Mikardo, Ian Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Mitchison, G. R. Short, E. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Moody, A. S. Shurmer, P. L. E. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Morley, R. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Mort, D. L. Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Murray, J. D. Sorensen, R. W.
Nally, W. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Sparks, J. A. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.
Oliver, G. H. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)

Question, put and agreed to.

Mr. Buchan-Hepburn

I claim that the main Question be now put.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty under section eight of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, praying that the said Act, which would otherwise expire on the tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-two, be continued in force for a further period of one year until the tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-three.

To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.