HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2293-4
Mr. A. J. Irvine

I beg to move, in page 24, line 2, to leave out from the first "Ireland" to the end of line 9.

Sir L. Plummer

On a point of order, Sir Charles. This is a most important Amendment affecting the future activity of the Northern Ireland Parliament, and there is not a single Northern Ireland Member in the Chamber to give us any advice on it.

The Chairman

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Irvine

The words which we want to leave out are words which have the effect that the Bill, when it becomes an Act, applies only to Northern Ireland if the Parliament of Northern Ireland desires it. The Clause, as drafted, expresses that proposition in the most unfelicitous language. As a matter of drafting, I think that it might be reconsidered, particularly the expression …the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall have the same power to pass Acts with respect to any matter as they would have had if this Act had not passed… There is also the point—I dare say that it will be represented as a constitutional reform behind this Clause—that it has one curious result which is worth drawing attention to. It provides that if there is a conflict between an Act of Parliament of Northern Ireland and an Act of this Parliament, the Act of the Northern Ireland Parliament shall prevail; but it is just possible that the Parliament of Northern Ireland will want this Act to prevail and, in that event, some superfluous legislation would be necessary in that Parliament.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I do not want to plunge too deeply into these difficult constitutional points. I am not sure whether this is the safest and best argument to rely on, but when the Socialist Government were faced with this problem precisely the same was done in the 1948 Measure. The Socialist Government at that time were faced with this problem, which was that we should apply, for our convenience and for the convenience of Northern Ireland, an Act of this kind without derogating in any way from the right of the Northern Ireland Government to legislate in comparable fields within its own territory. This form of words has been honoured by tradition, and I think that it fulfils the purpose which we had in mind.

Mr. Irvine

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

I should like to say a few words on the Motion that Clause 32 stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman

We have now passed that Clause, and I am now about to call the new Clause; I cannot go back. I am sorry—I know that I go rather quickly.