HC Deb 02 February 1953 vol 510 cc1491-2

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

4.3 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

I see a Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) for the rejection of the Bill. I must draw the attention of the House to the well-known rule on debates on Consolidated Fund Bills. It is stated in Erskine May, on page 724, very concisely: Debate and amendment on the stages of these Bills must be relevant to each Bill and must be confined to the conduct or action of those who receive or administer the grants specified in the Bill in the case of an Appropriation Bill, or, in the case of those Consolidated Fund Bills which do not include appropriation, the grants of Supply which form the basis of the Ways and Means Resolutions upon which the Bills are founded.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for drawing the attention of the House to the extract from Erskine May which governs what is and what is not in order on this occasion. My sole purpose in putting down the Motion for the rejection, which I would seek your leave to move, is in order to call attention to a certain case which the House had some opportunity of discussing last week—or had no opportunity of discussing last week, as it turned out.

I thought this was an appropriate occasion to use the ancient constitutional principle on which the great bulk of our Parliamentary practice is founded, namely, that the redress of grievances must always precede the grant of Supply. I was not oblivious to the fact that this is not a general Consolidated Fund Bill, but only a limited Consolidated Fund Bill to give effect in the case of four Government Departments, to Supplementary Estimates to which the Committee of the House has already agreed. I recognise also that the Home Office is not included among those Departments. The grievance to which I wish to draw attention is connected with the Home Office. It is the case of Derek Bentley, and the failure to exercise the Royal Prerogative of mercy in that case. I thought that on those principles I should be in order in discussing the matter this afternoon.

I do not wish to press the point if you think that this is not an occasion on which this would be in order, but before asking you to rule in the matter, I would say one word, and only one. It has now been established beyond further controversy that the Home Secretary is responsible to the House of Commons for the advice he gives—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is quite right in saying that the Home Office is not among the Ministries whose Supplementary Estimates are given effect to by the Bill. Therefore, I could not allow any discussion of a matter involving the Home Office. It is also quite true that the ancient principle of "no Supply without redress of grievances" still holds, but there is an appropriate place and an appropriate time for airing grievances. This is not a time when that particular matter can be discussed.

Mr. Silverman

It is perfectly true that there is a difficulty, because the matter which I wish to raise concerns the Home Office and the Home Office Vote and no part of the Home Office Vote is included in the Bill. I will take the opportunity to ask you in what circumstances there would be an early opportunity for doing what I am sure the vast majority of people in this country wish to do, namely, to ask the Home Secretary for an ex- planation—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]— and an account of—

Mr. Speaker

I cannot without consideration advise the hon. Member what opportunities are likely to arise in the future, but I will consider it if he cares to come to see me.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Major Conant.]

Committee Tomorrow.