§ 10.10 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)
I beg to move,That the First Schedule to the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957, in its application to this House, be amended as follows:—
§ 1. In Part I (Judicial Offices)—
- (a) the offices of National Insurance Commissioner for Northern Ireland and Deputy National Insurance Commissioner for Northern Ireland shall be added; and
- (b) the offices of Umpire and Deputy Umpire appointed for any of the purposes of the National Insurance Acts (Northern Ireland), 1946, or for the purposes of the Family Allowances Act (Northern Ireland) 1945, shall be omitted.
§ 2. In Part II (Comissions, Tribunals and other bodies of which all members are disqualified)—
- (a) the British Film Fund Agency shall be added;
- (b) the Central Land Board, the National Arbitration Tribunal (Northern Ireland) and the Panel constituted for the purposes of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal under the Industrial Disputes Order, 1951, shall be omitted.
§ 3. In Part III (other disqualifying offices), the following offices shall be added—
- (a) Chairman of the National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science;
- (b) Director nominated by the Secretary of State of any limited company in respect of which an undertaking to make advances has been given by the Secretary of State under section two of the Highlands and Islands Shipping Services Act. 1960, and is for the time being in force;
- (c) any salaried officer appointed under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act (Northern Ireland) 1956, and not now specified in that Part;
§ The object of this Motion is to seek approval of this House to the Amendment by Order in Council of the First Schedule to the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957. As the House will recall, the broad purpose of that Act was to bring together into one Measure all the various statutory provisions which disqualify from membership of the House of Commons the holders of offices of profit under the 379 Crown. The First Schedule to the 1957 Act lists those specific offices which disqualify from membership of this House and, as adopted by the Third Schedule, of both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.
§ Section 5 (1) of the 1957 Act provides for the Schedule to be amended by Order in Council in accordance with a Resolution of the House of Commons or of both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. So far, no such Order has been made. Most of the changes in disqualification since 1957 have been made by Statute, by the inclusion of an appropriate Section in the Acts creating new offices, or changing existing ones, which had the effect of thereby including those offices in the Schedule to the 1957 Act.
§ Some offices, however, have been created otherwise than by Statute, the holders of which ought, under Government policy—and I think this policy is generally agreed to and accepted by the House—to be disqualified from membership of this House of Commons. For example, the office of Chairman of the National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science was created by a Royal Charter which expressly precludes the appointment of a Member of Parliament as Chairman. Other offices have been abolished, and so ought, by rights, to be removed from the Schedule to the Act.
§ The draft Order in Council includes ten items affecting membership of the House of Commons, four of which have arisen in Northern Ireland, and six items which affect membership of the Northern Ireland Parliament. A separate Motion in respect of the items which affect membership of the Northern Ireland Parliament will be moved in the Senate and House of Commons there. For technical reasons, the Order must take the form of providing for the making of a verbal Amendment to the Schedule, but the effect of the Order and the Resolutions will be the same. I hope that, with that brief explanation, the House may be ready to approve this Motion.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)
The Minister did not explain why the last office is now to be omitted from the Schedule, and I should be grateful if he would give some reason. I do not say 380 that there is no reason, but the matter at the moment remains somewhat unexplored and I think that the hon. Gentleman should say why that office is now to be left out. Subject to that, and speaking for myself, I certainly would have no objection at all to the proposed changes in the Schedule.
When one looks at the Order Paper, prima facie the procedure proposed seems surprisingly alarming, a procedure to amend an Act of Parliament by Motion of this House. I do not say that it is wrong—it is specifically provided for by Section 5 of the 1957 Act—but I would have thought that a procedure which is well adapted to changing the Schedule from time to time.
Section 5, of course, also provides that in any future versions of the 1957 Act the alterations that are proposed by this Motion have to be incorporated. The object of that is to ensure that the Schedule shall at any time be kept up to date, so that those who hold offices, or propose to accept appointments that are offered to them, will know perfectly clearly whether or not that would involve disqualification from this House.
I think that is a procedure which works well, on the whole, and that the 1957 Act is useful in that it introduces clarity and precision into an area of our law which was very doubtful before the Act was passed. I would not oppose this Motion; indeed, I would gladly accept it subject to the Minister giving a reason for the exclusion of the last office which appears on the list.
§ 10.16 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Mr. William Grant)
As this is a Scottish point, perhaps I may be allowed to reply. What is happening is this: under the Order we are adding, under paragraph 3 (b), aDirector nominated by the Secretary of State of any limited company in respect of which an undertaking to make advances has been given by the Secretary of State under Section two of the Highlands and Islands Shipping Services Act, 1960,…And we are taking out the office of Director…nominated by the Minister of Transport of David MacBrayne Limited. …The Secretary of State will be giving an undertaking in regard to advances to companies other than David MacBrayne 381 and we are changing the Order to bring it into line with the terms of the Highlands and Islands Shipping Services Act, 1960.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what will happen between the passing of this Motion and the passing of the Motion which will be necessary in respect of the proposals of the Secretary of State regarding the Orkney and Shetlands Shipping Line and also the MacBrayne Shipping Line, because, so far as I know, nothing has been laid before the House affecting MacBrayne's Line and, until that is passed, this office surely is not changed?
§ The Lord Advocate
I understand that an undertaking will be given at a very early date. The hon. Gentleman will realise that this Motion does not take effect until an Order in Council has been made.
§ Question put and agreed to.