HC Deb 05 May 1960 vol 622 cc1258-60
39. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now considered the Summary Jurisdiction Bill lately submitted to him by the Governor of the Isle of Man; and, since this Bill makes provision for penalties different from those imposed for similar offences in the United Kingdom and may therefore have unacceptable repercussions among some of the half-million holidaymakers from the mainland who visit the Isle of Man annually, if he will advise the Privy Council to recommend that the Royal Assent to it be withheld.

44. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will advise the Privy Council to recommend Her Majesty to withhold the Royal Assent to the Summary Jurisdiction Bill of the Isle of Man.

56. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department having regard to the large numbers of Lancashire young people who spend their holidays in the Isle of Man, if he will advise the Privy Council that the Royal Assent should not be given to the Summary Jurisdiction Bill of the Isle of Man, which imposes penalties which this country has long discarded.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The responsibility for advising The Queen on the legislation adopted by Tynwald rests upon the Privy Council, which tenders advice after receiving a report from a Committee of the Council to which insular legislation is referred for consideration and report. The Royal Assent is signified at a meeting of The Queen in Council.

It would not be proper for me to anticipate the advice which may be tendered to Her Majesty by indicating what advice I propose to give, as the member of the Privy Council primarily concerned with the affairs of the Island, to my colleagues in the Council with regard to the Act of Tynwald to which the hon. Members refer.

Mr. Driberg

While the right hon. Gentleman may not be able to anticipate that advice, when he is considering it will be bear in mind that the phrase "unacceptable repercussions" in the Question is a quotation from his own Department's memorandum, which goes on to say that when there are likely to be unacceptable repercussions outside the island, the possibility that the Royal Assent might be withheld in these circumstances "can never be discounted"?

Mr. Butler

I have examined the circular and I am quite clear that it was not intended that this sort of matter should be regarded as an unacceptable repercussion. We consider Tynwald as having independence to make its own laws subject to the arrangements which I have described. I have read the Home Office circular and it was taking into account such matters as resolutions which run counter to international obligations or affect the United Kingdom revenue.

Mr. Fletcher

Would not the Home Secretary agree that the constitutional position is clear? As the Minister primarily responsible for advice to Her Majesty on this matter, he is just as responsible to this House as he is in connection with any other advice given to Her Majesty. Will the Home Secretary say, in considering what attitude he is going to adopt, whether he is in favour of the introduction of corporal punishment in the Isle of Man?

Mr. Butler

I have to weigh my own views with the obvious desirability of preserving the independent power of legislation of Tynwald, subject to the powers, which I described, of intervention by the Secretary of State in giving the advice to the Privy Council. Subject to that, I think it desirable that we should all respect the independence of Tynwald.

Mr. S. Silverman

Would the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House how far he regards himself as responsible to the House of Commons for the advice which he gives to the Privy Council? Will he consider the matter further and bear in mind that, while no one wishes to interfere with the rights of the Isle of Man Government, nevertheless British subjects from the mainland who go there are not able to avail themselves of the kind of consular or diplomatic protection they would get in foreign countries, and therefore the external effects of legislation in the Isle of Man are matters which ought to be taken into account, as his own memorandum makes clear?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I definitely think that if, so to speak, terror were thrust into the breasts of tourists from Britain, owing to this power having been taken by the Manx legislature, the Secretary of State of the day would certainly feel that he had to intervene in the way suggested in the memorandum of the Home Office. But I cannot believe that this power taken or introduced in this legislation will very much alter either the temperament or temper of the many tourists who will visit the island.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, whereas it is important to keep the legislative independence of this island, it is not a question of terror being thrust into the hearts of the citizens of this country, but the fact that they would come under these laws when they went to the Isle of Man; and therefore the repercussions on all the rest of us cannot altogether be ignored in a matter of this kind? If there is a grave difference between the laws of the two countries, surely that is a consideration of importance?

Mr. Butler

I had to weigh this matter and I have not given the House my final decision because I must preserve that. Anyone who is a Member of the House of Commons, particularly a Minister, should listen and pay attention to the views of the House of Commons and, equally, I think, to the constitutional position of the desirability of retaining the independent power of the Manx legislature to legislate.