HC Deb 06 July 1956 vol 555 cc1750-1

Order for Second Reading read.

3.3 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

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

This Bill is brought forward under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949. The House will see in the Fourth Schedule the titles and the number of the Acts which are repealed in consequence of the Bill.

Being a consolidation Measure made under the Act, the Bill merely consolidates the existing statute law, with such corrections and minor improvements as may be authorised under that Act. Consequently, it would not be in order for me to discuss the contents of the Bill. This is a very useful Measure because a consolidation of this character leads to the clarification of the statute law. There has been no real attempt to consolidate the criminal law since 1914.

I would express thanks to the draftsman for the work he has done and to the Joint Committee of this House and of another place which considered carefully the suggested corrections and minor Amendments that were submitted to them.

3.4 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

My right hon. and hon. Friends and I wish to associate ourselves with the thanks which have been given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the Committee and other persons concerned. I profess that I have no expert knowledge of these matters, but this seems to be a remarkably lucid and useful piece of consolidation. I hope that, as has happened in other cases, it will provide an opportunity to look at the existing law as a whole and to consider whether any substantial amendments to it are necessary.

3.5 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

Although a discussion on a consolidation Measure is limited, nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I venture to assume that it is possible, on Second Reading of a Measure of this kind, to express opposition to the whole idea of consolidating the law relating to sexual offences. I consider that the present time is most inappropriate for consolidating the law. There is an argument in favour of consolidating a reasonably good law, but there cannot be a very strong argument for consolidating bad law.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and gallant Member is now proceeding to criticise the existing law. He cannot do that except on a Motion or Bill to that effect, to repeal or alter the existing law. Such a Bill is not before us.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

The reason such a Bill is not before us is that a Departmental Committee is going into the whole matter. It is because the Home Office has appointed a Departmental Committee to go into the whole question of homosexuality and prostitution that I consider it most inappropriate that we should now be consolidating the law as it is.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Legh.]

Committee upon Wednesday next.