HC Deb 05 November 1954 vol 532 cc731-2

Order for Second Reading read.

11.5 a.m.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Harry Hylton-Foster)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

It should conduce to legislative modesty to recall that in 1947 the Statute Law Committee estimated that it would take 10 to 15 years' continuous work to reduce the Statute Book to anything like satisfactory condition. This is another step in the process of hard work carried on by successive Governments. The enactment consolidates scattered legislative provisions out of about eight Acts. It is the culmination in the process recently launched by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead)—whom we are all very glad to see in his place—in a speech which he made in February last year on the Second Reading of a Private Member's Bill, and was continued by the grant of the new Royal Charter to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

The Joint Committee reported on this Bill on 18th July and, with one qualification, the House would wish me to express to the noble Lords, and to hon. Members of this House, who served on the Committee, its gratitude for the excellence of their work. The one qualification is that I, myself, happened to be a member of the Committee. If, within the austere rules of order which apply, any hon. Member should desire any information about anything in the Bill, I am, with the leave of the House, at its service.

11.7 a.m.

Mr. Somerville Hastings (Barking)

As a member of a closely allied and sister profession, perhaps it might not be out of order if I say a word or two about the Bill.

Mr. Speaker

I must remind the hon. Member that, on the Second Reading of a consolidation Bill, the only question at issue, and the only question that can be discussed, is whether the law should be consolidated, or should be left expressed in a number of different statutes as it was before the consolidation took place. The provisions of a consolidation Bill are deemed, by statute, to be existing law in themselves and are, therefore, outside the scope of discussion.

Mr. Hastings

Should I be in order if I asked for an explanation of a Clause in the Bill, Sir?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid not. The hon. Member must take it that the Clause to which he proposes to refer is part of the existing law, and therefore, as such, it is not before the House for discussion.

11.8 a.m.

Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)

It would be ungracious for me to allow the House to part with this Bill without adding a word or two of gratitude to those which the Solicitor-General has spoken, to the Statute Law Committee, and particularly to Parliamentary Counsel, for having taken an almost incoherent patchwork of legislation and turned it into a very coherent and modern statute. I am quite certain that, in doing so, both the Committee and the draftsmen have earned the gratitude of the pharmaceutical profession, which I should like to take this opportunity to express.

11.9 a.m.

Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)

I should like to say that we on this side share the views just expressed by the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead). The Committee should be, and undoubtedly is, grateful to those who have worked on this Bill and, in more senses than one, produced order out of chaos.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Kaberry.]

Committee upon Monday next.