HC Deb 19 July 1957 vol 573 cc1602-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

3.0 p.m.

Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

I cannot let this very valuable Clause pass without saying a few words about it. I strongly support the Clause, but I want no one to assume that I am in any way casting aspersions on the new Supreme Court of the Federation. I have not the slightest doubt that the Court will carry out its functions in the same absolutely impartial way as its constitutional predecessors. Nonetheless, we realise that where we have a new community made up of various races, it is not an empty compliment to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to ask that the final decision about its affairs should be put to the Judicial Committee.

The importance of this is that, when we have been creating, and are proposing to create, self-governing independent communities all over the world, one of them should ask that the Judicial Committee be made the supreme court of appeal for their affairs. That is something which is quite invaluable for the future. All these communities are based on British common law to some extent, but much more on British statute law, and unless we have some unifying court at the head of them, the law will diverge in the same way as in the United States where the supreme court has only a limited unifying jurisdiction. Therefore, this Clause is of first-rate importance. One hopes that it will be a precedent to be followed not only by other countries, who are already independent and have not suggested it, but by those who are to attain independence. I congratulate everyone concerned with the inclusion of this Clause in the Bill.

Mr. Page

I wish to associate myself with the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens). I raised this point during the Second Reading debate and endeavoured to stress the importance of this Clause and its great value as a link in Commonwealth relations. I think it well worth putting on record that there has been a recent trend towards retaining the Privy Council appellant jurisdiction. We had the same request from Ghana, that their appeals should come to the Privy Council, and now we have this request from the new Federation of Malaya.

I would remind my right hon. Friend—when I mentioned this during the Second Reading debate he was not in the Chamber, but no doubt he has since read the report of that debate—that in the case of Ghana they also requested that Commonwealth judges should be invited periodically to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I am sure that it would be a great compliment to the Federation of Malaya were an invitation of that nature extended to them, and that periodically we had Commonwealth judges sitting with their Lordships on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider that proposition once again.

Sir P. Spens

May I interrupt to say that Commonwealth judges who are Privy Councillors do sit on the Judicial Committee. It is, of course, for Her Majesty to make up her mind whom she calls to the Privy Council, but any Chief Justice who is a Privy Councillor has the right to sit on the Judicial Committee, and the Lord Chancellor constantly asks them to do so.

Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)

I should like to associate hon. Members on this side of the Committee with the compliments which have been expressed about this Clause. The reputation of the Judicial Committee for integrity and quality is universal and it is a splendid thing that its jurisdiction is to continue in respect of this new Federation.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I join with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) and other hon. Members in welcoming this Clause which provides that appeals shall continue to lie to the Judicial Committee subject to the necessary adaptation and the making of arrangements compatible with Malayan sovereignty. No part of this Bill has given greater pleasure to Her Majesty's Government, and I am glad that that pleasure is shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

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

I am sure that I shall be expressing the will of the House as a whole if I wish every success to the Federation of Malaya in its new status as an independent country within the Commonwealth. I know that the fund of goodwill in this country towards Malaya is very great indeed. It was a privilege for me as Secretary of State to be associated with the Chief Minister and his colleagues as representatives of the Conference of Rulers over the last three years.

I should also like to say with what pleasure all of his many friends will welcome Dato Nik Kamil to London as High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya, to succeed his two distinguished predecessors, Che Othman, who has now gone back to Malaya for a most important post, and Raja Uda bin Raja Mohamed. These three have innumerable friends in the United Kingdom and we look forward to continued association with them.

I commend the Bill to the House. This is now a great plural society, and upon how it manages to live and work together a great deal will depend. The civilised world will watch with sympathy and understanding the way in which it grapples with its problems. There is an important educational institution, "Kirkby," near Liverpool, at which, hon. Members will know, Malays, Chinese and Indians are being trained together. I shall never forget that when I visited it some time ago and asked one student there to which community 'he belonged he replied that he was a "Malayan." It is in the hope that the many races now living in Malaya can be welded, with common loyalties and citizenship, together with us in the British Commonwealth, that I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.