HC Deb 13 June 1956 vol 554 cc584-5

  1. (1) The Lord Chancellor may—
    1. (a) after consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland by order increase the number of judges of the High Court, the Court of Session or the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland to be nominated under section three of this Act as members of the Court;
    2. (b) with the approval of the Treasury by order increase the maximum number of members of the Court to be appointed under section four of this Act.
  2. (2) The power of the Lord Chancellor to make orders under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument; and an order under this section shall be of no effect until it is approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament.—[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.48 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

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

This Clause fulfils an undertaking which I gave on Amendments moved by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) and the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) during the Committee stage. It was felt by them, and, I think, by other hon. Members of the Committee, that we were tying ourselves a little too narrowly as to the number of members of the Court, and it was suggested that the President of the Board of Trade should have power to increase the numbers. I believe that, on reflection, the Committee will think that the Lord Chancellor is perhaps the more appropriate figure for coming to a conclusion on that matter. This Clause gives him that power subject, quite rightly I think, to an affirmative Resolution and, in the case of the lay members, to the consent of the Treasury.

I suggest that the Clause meets the undertakings given in Committee and I hope that it will commend itself to this Committee.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

I wish to thank the President for this Clause, which completely meets the point I sought to make during our discussions in Committee. I would ask him also to represent to the Lord Chancellor that if there is, as hon. Members on this side of the Committee feel there may be, a delay in proceeding with the business of the Court, it will not wait unduly before exercising the powers conferred by this new Clause. As we on this side of the Committee have already made clear in the deliberations on the Bill, and as I should like to make clear again today, that we want to speed the elimination of the restrictive practices with which the Bill is designed to deal and the effective measures to be taken. This is a step in the direction in which we wish to go.

Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)

The Minister is correct in saying that he has met the point in a slightly more flexible way than would have been possible by the Amendment which we put down during Committee stage. We are pleased to welcome and accept this new Clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.

Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended (in Committee and on recommittal), considered.