§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I need say little about this Bill at this stage, because my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. and learned Friend who is now the Financial Secretary to the Treasury explained it fully during the earlier stages; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) supported the Bill on behalf of the Opposition, and the House has, so far, given it unanimous support without Amendment.
It is, I think, a good augury that, although there is no lack of pressing problems for our attention, the Third Reading of this Isle of Man Bill stands first on the Order Paper today on our reassembly, thus demonstrating our interest in the future of that loyal and happy island which gave us generous help in men, lives and money during the last two wars. I was glad to find, on arriving at the Home Office yesterday, that not only has my right hon. Friend a responsibility, among his manifold duties, for maintaining contact between the Government of the Isle of Man and Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, but, also, that it was within my sphere of responsibility to assist him in doing so.
As he and my predecessor pointed out during the debate on the Second Reading, the Bill restores to the island its independence in fiscal and several other matters. It does so in a very simple way, and very briefly, by repealing various Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament, and by confirming existing arrangements whereby our Commissioners of Customs and Excise will continue to help the island Government by collecting duties and Purchase Tax for them.
The background to the Bill is already familiar to hon. Gentlemen. Its background, and the reason why it is possible for us to legislate in this way, is that the island Government have willingly entered 903 into two agreements which have been set out in a White Paper presented last November, and I can assure the House that, thanks to those two agreements, the Government of the island will, after this Bill is passed, continue to co-operate with the United Kingdom on all matters of common concern; and that the legislation of Tynwald which is to replace our own legislation on the matters referred to in the Bill will be as enlightened as ours attempts to be, and will, indeed, so far as is appropriate, follow the general pattern of our own legislation.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
It is interesting to hear the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department saying that the Government of the Isle of Man will continue to co-operate with the Government of the United Kingdom and follow the same enlightened policy in regard to whatever it may be—he did not say quite what it was on which they were to co-operate with us. Before I criticise the Home Secretary, however, may I offer my congratulations to the Under-Secretary of State on his appointment, and express the hope that he will not occupy that position for too long.
In the debate on the Second Reading, the Home Secretary, unfortunately, conveyed a misleading impression to the House, in my opinion, in one important respect. My right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) asked whether the social welfare arrangements in the Isle of Man were comparable with those in this country. The Home Secretary said that he could allay my right hon. Friend's anxieties on that score…in that the situation on the island is comparable to what we in our wisdom regard as suitable for the inhabitants of the mainland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1957; Vol. 578, c. 1186.]It so happens that a constituent of mine went to live in the Isle of Man, and had to make application for National Assistance. I took up his case with the Isle of Man Board of Social Services and the Board, in a letter to me dated 7th December, said that the National Assistance Act does not provide for reciprocity in this respect. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, there is not this comparable provision made in the Isle of Man on the basis of which the Home Secretary asked us to accept this Bill.
§ Mr. Lipton
What I am trying to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, is that we are entitled to object to the Bill on Third Reading if the preceding stage of the Bill went through the House on the basis of an assurance that we now find to be incorrect. The Home Secretary was not correctly advised. As a matter of fact, the position is that the applicant from Great Britain who is in need in the Isle of Man must have resided there continuously throughout the five years preceding the application for National Assistance. We make no such provision in the case of the Isle of Man citizen coming to this country.
I think the Home Secretary owes it to the House to give us an explanation of this matter, because he did create a misleading impression in the minds of many hon. Members who heard him ask the House to accept the Bill on Second Reading.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that the hon. Member has made his point and has, perhaps, gone rather beyond what the strict rules of order allow. I think that he should be content with that. I really cannot find anything about legislation in the Isle of Man in this Bill, except what is necessary for the repeal of certain Acts and certain financial arrangements, and I do not think that on Third Reading I should be entitled to allow the hon. Member to proceed with the line of argument which he has suggested to us.
§ Mr. Lipton
I shall, of course, accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. Having made my protest, I hope that some notice of it will be taken by the Home Secretary, who, so far as he can, does not make a habit of deliberately misleading the House in his speeches.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
My hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) said he had raised this point because a constituent of his had gone to the Isle of Man. Can he tell us why he went there? Was it because he was "fed up" with the hon. Member for Brixton, or was "fed up" with the Government?
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I should like to join with my hon. Friends in congratulating the Joint Under-Secretary of State on his appointment. We are delighted to see him at the Home Office, but I should also like to say—and I hope that this is not contradictory—how sorry we are that his predecessor is not still at the Home Office. We all have a very great respect for the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon), and we are very sorry that he has been sent to the Treasury. He deserves a better fate than that.
I want to take this opportunity of asking the Joint Under-Secretary whether he knows why beer should still be cheaper in the Isle of Man. I gather that this Bill will not change this situation at all. I should have thought it was far better to have beer cheaper in the United Kingdom. Cannot he arrange for this to be the other way round?
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
With my hon. Friends, I should like to join in the congratulations which have been extended to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary on the change which has come to him. Whether it is promotion or not, I do not know, but he is certainly now in a very ancient office, and I imagine that he will be very happy there, although I sincerely hope that he will not be there too long.
In the earlier stages of the Bill, we have accepted its provisions, though at appropriate times we have raised certain queries. We were assured by the Home Secretary that the fears which we then voiced were groundless. I cannot, as has already been said, raise these matters now, but I hope that at some time, either privately or directly with the Isle of Man authorities, my hon. Friend will raise the points which he has tried to raise in this debate. We believed that there would be reciprocity between the two Governments, and I should like to feel that the 906 relationships between the island and ourselves are such that if that reciprocity does not at the moment exist the island will take steps to see that it does.
Having said that, I should like to say that we on this side of the House are very glad to see the island, at long last, achieve complete independence, certainly financial independence, under the British Crown. We hope that in the years to come the friendship and good feeling which have always existed between ourselves and residents in the Isle of Man will continue, and even be deepened by the action of the Government in putting through this Bill.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
Before the Minister replies, may I ask him one question? Can lie say whether there is anything in the Bill to facilitate further cultural exchanges between the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man? I ask the question because there is an excellent comprehensive secondary school in the Isle of Man, and if more information about it were available in this country it might help to remove some of the foolish prejudices against comprehensive secondary schools which exist in some quarters in the United Kingdom.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Renton
If, with the leave of the House, I may speak again, may I say that I should be out of order if I attempted to answer any of the points of substance raised. We shall bear them in mind to the extent that the hon. Gentlemen who made them did not make them in an entirely misconceived manner. I am most grateful to those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have congratulated me on my new appointment. I have contrived to have moved from the newest Ministry to the oldest Department of State in one move across the board.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.