HC Deb 27 June 1963 vol 679 cc1712-31
Mr. Gordon Walker

I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, to leave out subsection (2).

The effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be to bring the Bill into operation on the Royal Assent rather than, as it now stands, on the dissolution of Parliament. The more I have thought about the exchanges we had on this matter on Second Reading the more unsatisfactory have I found the arguments and propositions of the Government. I even infer that there may be some lack of satisfaction on the other side of the Committee, because I see that the Daily Telegraphhas been called in aid and has produced a leading article today which is intended to rally the other side. The article seems to me to produce very feeble arguments and to miss most of the points.

The Attorney-General produced two arguments on Second Reading against our proposition. He said this: …my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has consistently made this announcement"— that is, the announcement of the intention to bring the Bill into operation by the next election— and there has not been one peep or murmur from hon. Members opposite who now appear to be shocked by the idea."—[Official Report, 19th June, 1963; Vol. 679, c. 555.] Even granted that this is true and that we were slow off the mark, it does not go to the merits of the argument. It has no real relevance to our argument. The reason why there was no peep out of the Opposition was that we took at its face value the undertaking that the Leader of the House gave us. He gave it on 29th March last, when he said that if such legislation were desirable the Government would bring it forward in this Parliament so that it might be in operation for the coming General Election.

We understood "operation" to mean that it would come in time to work by the next General Election. When we consider something coming into operation we think, as we thought he intended, that he wanted the Measure quickly—indeed, he said he did—so that it could come into operation and really work by the time of the next election. To say that it will be in force a few days before the election is not observing, if not the letter, the spirit of the undertaking or the sense in which it is normally understood that such a Measure would be in operation by the election.

The Attorney-General had a somewhat more substantial argument, for he said: It was thought right that, as we had all been elected an one basis of the constitution for this Parliament, we ought to continue through this Parliament on that basis and that the composition of the House of Lords in particular should not be altered in this Parliament and that it would be perfectly satisfactory if the Bill came into operation for the purposes of the next Parliament."—(Official Report, 19th June, 1963; Vol. 679, c. 555.] The Leader of the House said that it would come into operation at the General Election. The Attorney-General now says that it will come …into operation for the purposes of the next Parliament. This argument was the only one of substance I observed to be used by the Attorney-General, but how does he square that with the bringing of the Measure into operation at once in the case of the Life Peerages Act? That affected the composition of the House of Lords and it is interesting to note that the Attorney-General said: …the composition of the House of Lords in particular should not be altered in this Parliament… The Life Peerages Bill, which gravely altered the composition of the House of Lords, came into operation upon the Royal Assent. I appreciate that the Attorney-General is a distinguished lawyer, but I would be interested to hear how a distinction can be drawn between these two operations, both of which affect the composition of the House of Lords. In one case the Government wanted the Bill in operation at once, and that is what happened, while in the other they do not want it in operation at once and they use a completely different argument to suit their purpose. Had this argument been used at the time of the Life Peerages Bill it would not have come into operation upon the Royal Assent. However, that argument was not then thought of; and the Attorney-General would not have thought of the new argument unless he had other reasons for opposing the Opposition's Amendment.

Let us consider the consequences of the refusal of the Government, if they refuse, to accept the Amendment. Let us say that an hon. Member now in the House of Commons succeeds to the peerage between the enactment of the Bill and its coming into operation upon the dissolution of Parliament. There would have to be a by-election, the seat having been vacated, and the by-election would have to be fought and contested even though the law had been changed by Parliament, by both Houses, and had the Royal Assent. Although the law had been changed we would have to go on pretending that it had not been changed. In such circumstances one or more by-elections might have to be fought and if that happened the law would appear to be an ass. Everyone would laugh at us. This is one consequence that might be involved if the Government refuse to bring this Measure into operation upon the Royal Assent.

6.15 p.m.

The Attorney-General said that it would be easy for peers who wished to disclaim to go, either now or directly after the Bill was passed, to any constituency party or association and say, "Please adopt me. I am prepared to disclaim when the day comes." Does the Attorney-General not realise that this sort of thing causes difficulties for people placed in this position? In practice, when people are seeking adoption by a local party they have rivals. More than one person is trying to get this honour and if one of the rivals says or gets a friend to say, "This other fellow is a peer. He may change his mind about disclaiming and what a mess you will then be in," great difficulties could be caused for the peer concerned. It is obvious that this must make things more difficult for a peer than if the Bill came into operation upon the Royal Assent.

If the argument of the Attorney-General is that it does not make any real difference because a peer can get adopted, why is he being so obstinate? Why does he want to stop the Bill coming into operation? Why not allow a peer to dsclaim, be adopted, be ready to nurse his constituency and take part in the election fight? Why is he being so obstinate and putting unnecessary complications in the way?

Since the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman, compared with those he gave concerning the Life Peerages Act, do not, we believe, represent any real objections, one must look for the real reasons behind the present view of the Government.

The Government would not be putting this argument forward if it were the only one. Had they said that the Measure should come into operation upon the Royal Assent, and an hon. Member had moved a Motion saying "No" and moved that it should be at the next election, the Government would have blown that argument away at once. I believe that they have a bad conscience and do not want to explain the proper reason. I do not wish to refer to ulterior motives, because that might be improper. However, the Government have laid themselves open to the suspicion that they have ulterior motives—and one of these could be that they wish to avoid an awkward by-election.

The hon. Member who now represents Bristol, South-East (Mr. St. Clair), who has been put in a difficult and invidious position, has honourably said that he will resign directly the Bill comes into operation. If it came into operation upon the Royal Assent he would, thereby, immediately vacate his seat, and there would be a by-election in Bristol, South-East, with the consequences that we all know. I agree that this would be awkward for the Government from the political point of view and, of course, they want to avoid that. But if this is the argument, and they wish to be fair, they should tell hon. Members the position frankly so that we can know exactly where we stand.

By putting the operation of the Bill off and bringing it in when Parliament is dissolved the Government will avoid this awkward by-election. However, if they carried out at least the spirit of the promise given by the Leader of the House—and not its bare letter—they would not need to worry. They would merely have to face the awkwardness of difficult by-elections, just as Governments must face other awkward situations.

Another ulterior motive of which the Government are bound to be suspected is that they want to keep Lord Hailsham out as long as they possibly can. It is generally known that there is a powerful jockeying for position going on. There are people who look ahead and realise that sometimes, when a horse gets a bit ahead, if one can prolong the race another horse might get ahead. We know who is in charge of the Bill and the right hon. Gentleman cannot altogether expect to escape from the suspicion that he is one of the jockeys in this matter. But I do not want to interfere in the problems and difficulties of the party opposite.

Mr. C. Pannell

Does my right hon. Friend think that the final decision would rest with the Leader of the House? Are there not more powerful horses than he in politics?

Mr. Gordon Walker

I do not doubt what are the interests of the right hon. Gentleman. There are bigger men or allies in this who would concert with him. We all know how these things operate at moments like this. However, I do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of the party opposite and, for my part, I could not care less who they have as their next Leader; but conclusions are bound to be drawn.

Coming back to the Government's so-called reasons concerning the Bill, the impression is being given, because of their obstinacy, that this is a rather slick, too-clever-by-half kind of trick. There cannot be any real grounds for saying that this Measure cannot come into operation on the Royal Assent. There can only be this sham constitutional ground that did not apply in other cases in which the Government did not want it to apply. This is a trick objection; a promise is kept in words, but not in spirit. Not a single real reason has been given for the Government's obstinacy in this case. It is a mean-spirited action inspired solely by the fact that the Government's motives cannot be openly declared and announced.

Dr. Alan Glyn

The motives imputed by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) are incorrect. We are in a difficulty here, because if I have interpreted the Joint Committee's terms of reference correctly, no date or timetable was given. In that respect, we have no guidance. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman said that there have been precedents. The precedent he cited was the Life Peerage Bill, but that was part of the Conservative manifesto which said that some alteration in the composition of the House of Lords would be made in the next Parliament—

Mr. Gordon Walker

I agree, but I can give two other examples. Both the Parliament Acts were brought into operation in the Parliaments in which they were passed, and those Measures made very great changes in the Constitution.

Dr. Glyn

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I think that in both those instances the Measure was part of the election platform. In fact, one of them was the platform on which the election was fought—

Mr. Gordon Walker

Not the first one.

Dr. Glyn

No, the second one—so there was some notional justification for bringing it in at that time—

Mr. Gordon Walker

The Life Peerage Bill was surely not announced as part of the Conservative programme?

Dr. Glyn

Although the actual Measure was not specifically cited, it was stated during the election that some reform of the House of Lords was under consideration.

Be that as it may, there are, and will be, some real practical difficulties between now and the next General Election, but we are, perhaps, making very heavy weather of this point. I shall be interested in hearing the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House for delaying the operation of this Measure. I do not believe that we are faced with any difficulties in bringing it into operation immediately, and I should not have thought that there were any objections to doing that. On the other hard, whether we like to admit it or not, there is the point that this Bill represents an agreement in principle between the two sides, but, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no such agreement on timing, nor was timing included in the Joint Committee's terms of reference which I regard as the bible for this Bill. Personally, I see no specific reason why the Bill should not be brought into operation as soon as it is enacted.

Mr. C. Pannell

I do not think that the Joint Committee, as such, was very much bothered about the time of the operation of the Bill. We were concerned, on limited terms of reference, about its content. My right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has quoted precedents for saying that there is nothing at all in the argument that we somehow breach some constitutional principle if we make the operative date that on which this Measure receives the Royal Assent. The date of the next election is unpredictable. There might not be a great deal of hardship on anyone if the General Election took place this fall, but if the Government were to go to their full term of office—which is rather longer than most hon. Members seem to think, because the term runs for five years from the date of the first sitting of a Parliament—there would be a considerable measure of hardship.

What intrigues me is what took place last Thursday. It seemed to me that speaking in the early part of our debate, the Leader of the House was not unsympathetic to this proposal. I do not impute anything to him in regard to his own personal position in the party, and I am not being in any way personally offensive to him when I say that it will be a high-level decision, but, at the beginning of that debate, his whole demean our was that there might be something in the proposal. It is only at the end of the day that the Attorney-General appeared to give it such hard treatment, and I wondered whether anything had been done or said in the course of the debate that had made the right hon. and learned Gentleman take that line.

There is not very much in the point at all, is there? It is not only that Mr. Wedgwood Benn will undoubtedly be returned for Bristol, South-East—I do not know that any Conservative opponent will dare to go to the hustings against him after this, because we have always held him to be the duly returned Member for that Division and believe that he still is—but there is also the position of the Conservative hon. Member who now represents that constituency and who has more or less indicated that he will get out as soon as this Bill becomes law.

I am not sure that the Leader of the House is not being rather tough on someone who, at least, did a rather unpopular stint for his party. I understand that the present Member for Bristol, South-East also has political ambitions—he, too, wants a seat—but, at present, he is suspended in a sort of never-never-land, and is rather in the position of being neither one thing nor the other.

The point has already been made today that any noble Lord who does not want to take his place in the other Chamber can fit himself for the next election, but this question of Bristol, South-East affects not only Mr. Wedgwood Benn but the man now deemed to be the Member for that division. If we cut out all the constitutional arguments, what, in equity, is left except the expense, the nuisance and, perhaps, the odium of a by-election?

Mr. Iain Macleod

To deal, first, with the last point raised by the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), there was no difference whatever on Second Reading between what I said and what my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said. The hon. Member interrupted me on this point, and said that …another 'Hailsham amendment' would be looked on as political strategy. I replied: With respect, the hon. Gentleman has got the point entirely wrong. I was concerned only with the question of the one month, and only with present Members of the House of Commons. I make it clear that I do not suggest an alteration, but I think it only fair to those eight or 10 hon. Members…to draw attention to the conceivable effect of this provision upon them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1963; Vol. 679, c. 469.] I therefore made it clear right away, and in response to the hon. Gentleman's interruption, that I thought the Bill right as it stands, and I should like now to give the two main reasons for my thinking so.

The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) made a speech extremely offensive to me personally, and I do not propose to reply in terms to him. He said, first of all—and I should like to dispose of this point before coming to the main argument—that I was implementing the letter and not the spirit of my promise. That is not so. It has always been frankly understood, as can be seen if one studies what has been said, that the Bill would operate in this way on the Dissolution of the present Parliament.

That is easy enough to illustrate. In our debate on 28th March, 1963, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said: …I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept from us that we believe that we ought to have a Bill quickly. It certainly ought to be brought in so that the reform will apply in time for the next General Election."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1963; Vol. 674, c. 1557.] 6.30 p.m.

After that debate I announced out proposals in the House on 15th May, 1963, when I said: …I can therefore state that it is our intention to introduce legislation to give effect to them"— That is to the recommendations— in time to take effect at the next General Election."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1963; Vol. 677, c. 1324.] The Times, on 31st May, published a very full story headed: Reluctant Peers Can Begin Constituencies Search", followed by another main heading: Lords Reform Bill To Come Into Force On Dissolution which said: The last Clause firmly states: 'This Act shall come into force on the dissolution of the present Parliament.' Thus Mr. Macleod's undertaking to the Commons a few weeks ago is fulfilled, though he was careful to add the words—'providing both Houses agree'. There has been no word of dissent from that until the right hon. Member for Smethwick raised the point.

Mr. Lubbock

If the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to read the next sentence people might have realised that when he made his statement on the 15th there was some doubt whether legislation could be passed through in this Session. Many people took his remarks to mean that there might be some delay, due to pressure of business in the House, but that in any event the Bill would be reintroduced in the autumn.

Mr. Macleod

Certainly, if there were any doubt about that on the 15th May I am sure that the hon. Member will admit that there could have been none on 30th May when the Bill was printed, and that there was none is clearly shown from the article in The Times.

So much for the point of the subsection. It implements both the letter and the spirit of my undertaking, but I agree that it is more important to argue the merits of this case. This, briefly, I propose to do. It is perfectly true that the Life Peerage Bill affects the composition of the other place, a composition which does not depend upon election, and the Bill gave the right to create life peerages, and it is true that that Bill came between General Elections.

If the Committee studies the precedents which affect the composition of this place—it will find them over a considerable period of time. It will find—and this is what matters—that they are overwhelmingly in favour of the proposition which I put forward. I do not mind whether the right hon. Member for Smethwick believes me or not, in view of the sort of speech he made, but I say to him that no political considerations came into the drafting of this Bill at all. It was drawn up some time ago and was drawn up with this particular point in mind. The right time to do these things is at a General Election.

There is one conceivable argument which can be put forward, and perhaps I should give the two dates, because they are important. The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, 1918, which made women eligible for membership of the House of Commons and was therefore an alteration in the eligibility for this place—which is just what we are considering—came into effect on the Royal Assent, but the Royal Assent was on 21st November, 1918, and the Dissolution was on 25th November and clearly the two were known and were taken together.

The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1918, which gave the vote to women, had provisions preventing it affecting the current parliamentary register and parliamentary elections, or the constitution of the House of Commons, before the next Dissolution. In the same way the Act of 1948, which made a number of changes, including the abolition of the university vote, did not come into force during the Parliament then in Session. It came in at the General Election.

There are certain complications which would arise and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General was quite right in mentioning these in relation to the Writ of Summons and the Scottish peers, but they could be overcome and it would be possible—which is by no means unknown—to have different dates for different parts of the Bill to come into operation. This is quite common form.

The other point is the position of the eight or ten Members to which reference has been made. I drew attention to this myself because I thought it right to draw attention to something which might escape, and certainly up to the moment had escaped, notice. But what we are doing for our present colleagues in the House of Commons, wherever they may sit, is to suggest that they continue in their present state and continue on the basis on which they were elected to the House. Therefore, I would claim quite clearly two things. First, beyond argument—and I think that I have shown it from documentary evidence—what has been put in the Bill implements both the letter and the spirit of the undertaking.

Mr. C. Pannell

The right hon. Gentleman was speaking about his colleagues already in the House of Commons who might be advantaged by the Bill, for instance, any one of the half dozen put in the position of Mr. Wedgwood Benn. Does not this create a vacuum between us by the next election? Could it create one?

Mr. Macleod

Of course it could, in certain circumstances which conceivably could happen. It was to draw the attention of the House to this that I referred to the matter on Second Reading. But I cannot think that that point is enough to influence the Committee to go against the long-established practice that it is normal to make such changes at the time of the General Election. I quite agree, and I want to make it absolutely clear, that there was no agreement on this point in the Joint Committee. I was entitled to argue on the "drowning" issue—and this was one of my strongest points—that if those Amendments had been carried we all knew that there would have been no Bill.

There was no agreement upon this point and therefore there would be no breach of agreement in my view, although I do not know what view another place would take if we changed it. The precedents are clearly in favour of what we have done, and therefore I recommend the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Hale

I have been trying with one ear to listen to the right hon. Gentleman's speech and with one eye to skim through the Bill again, because I humbly confess that the point which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) so ably raised in his opening speech had not fully occurred to me, but it raises doubts. I am sure that the Leader of the House will appreciate that we found ourselves on the Committee discussing a whole series of problems which became consequent one upon the other. There were all kinds of possibilities which came up, some very fascinating and some largely dialectical.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, in drafting the Bill, or whoever did draft the Bill, put into it something which is decidedly unusual. The special precedent to which my right hon. Friend referred certainly was a special precedent. I am speaking off the cuff, but I think that it was a case where under the Parliament Act it was implicit that the electorate should decide upon the Measure and that the party claiming reform should take the views of the House of Commons and pass that Act and then the electorate should decide, knowing that the election would be fought on that issue, and that if the Conservative Party won the election it would repeal the Act. This, under the Parliament Act, provided a special exception to the general proposition.

I have tried and failed to understand the constitutional law but I have always thought that Acts of Parliament restrictive of the power of future Parliaments were nugatory. I do not want to use the phrase misleadingly and I can stop the Attorney-General from whispering by accepting the fact that the meaning of the words was that one could not prevent Parliament putting in a restrictive Clause to prevent a future Parliament from doing something. Indeed, although we can repeal the Parliament Act when we want to, our action would have no effect if we did. We could go through the legislative process of breaking our promises and pledges for the future, but we could not enforce it, and we should merely be making a gesture, in the circumstances a singularly unfortunate one, of course.

Nevertheless, in this limited sense, it is unusual and, I suggest, undesirable to say to the House, "We want to pass a Bill about which there is no great Parliamentary dispute, which will probably go through in a few hours, which will take no great Parliamentary time; but we say that it must not have any effect, virtually, until another Parliament is in course of being engendered".

The problems which come to my mind—no doubt the Leader of the House has considered them—are these. First, there is the notification to Mr. Speaker. This gave rise in the Joint Select Committee to quite a problem. It was well understood that the importance of keeping Mr. Speaker informed was in everyone's mind, but, of course, when the Bill takes effect, there will be no Mr. Speaker. How does one notify a non-existent person of an event which must occur and take effect immediately in order to facilitate one's standing for Parliament? I see the Attorney-General whispering again to the Leader of the House. In fact, the reference to Mr. Speaker applies only to people who are sitting in Parliament and who succeed to a peerage while they have their seats.

This is another curious feature. There will be a great conflict, if there is a death at the moment just before an election, as to whether the person who had the seat in Parliament and thought that he would continue to have it but has succeeded to a peerage in the circumstances can disqualify himself from the peerage and go on or not. I confess to some doubt about it. I put the point quite humbly and seriously as one which goes not so much to the merits as to considerations of drafting. But we did think that these were important drafting points.

The whole question of what happens when a peer dies in the course of an election was the subject of prolonged discussion, not because there was much disagreement about what we wanted but because of doubt about how best to proceed. There was the possibility of making the returning officer into a much more important individual than he ought to be. There is no Speaker at that time. There is the candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster, or, wherever it may be—a highly political individual for the moment. If we do not operate the Bill until the Dissolution, then at that moment Mr. Speaker ceases to exist.

The Lord Chancellor may be abroad. It may be said that, if one has 12 months to consider the matter, all this is nonsense. One drops a letter to the Lord Chancellor's office and he will in due time receive it. But it does matter how a person serves a letter on the Lord Chancellor immediately after the Dissolution, when he wants to stand for election and he has only about ten days to do everything and get himself nominated. We have compelled him by the Clause to go through the indecent process of negotiating for his seat while he is a peer and, for ten, twelve, or eighteen months carrying on the pretence of being a peer in another place when everybody knows that he is going to chuck off his ermine robes, his coronet, even his strawberry leaves, if necessary, and dash into the political arena the moment Her Majesty exercises her constitutional right to dissolve this House and, technically speaking, the other House also for that purpose.

It seems to me that my right hon. Friend has raised a point of some importance. I wish that I had more time to look at it. I ought to have used my time better. I have wasted my time, and I plead guilty, reserving my defence on that issue. There are points which require consideration in these circumstances. They call for a little more attention than, apparently, they have had so far.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House disliked the observations made to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). I assure him that, speaking for myself, I did not think that they went beyond the proper limits of this place. That is a matter which we must each judge for ourselves. But, putting that aside, I hope very much that the Government will look at this question again.

Let us accept for the purpose of what I am saying that the right hon. Gentleman carried out what he said. Let us further accept that there is precedent, a preponderance of precedent one way, if he likes, in favour of the Bill. The really important question here is what is the right and fair thing to do in relation to the people who will be affected by the Bill, that is, both the possible candidates—all of us have some idea of who they will be, and obviously, though there may be others, Mr. Wedgwood Benn is one—and also the electors of the constituencies where these people are likely to be adopted.

It really is unsatisfactory to invite a constituency party to adopt somebody on the footing that, having regard to legislation which will come into force at the time of the election, he is at present minded, or he promises, to resign at the time. It is true that, in the majority of cases, all will be well and he will resign. But this is not the only point. One will be dealing with people who will at the moment be peers. There is the question of names. I do not think that names matter, but this sort of thing can easily cause real confusion in the minds of a lot of people who do not go in for the niceties of parliamentary procedure.

I assure the right hon. Gentleman—no doubt, he has had similar experience himself—that all kinds of strange things happen to me, especially on the fringes of my constituency where I cannot go so often. It is very easy for people to get muddled about the identity even of their sitting Member, let alone of a candidate. We all want to be fair to the constituents and the Members concerned.

If I thought that there was any serious practical reason for postponing the operation of the Bill until the General Election, I should not be making this speech, but I really cannot see the grounds for it. Let us admit that it is the letter of the pledge, if the right hon. Gentleman would like it put in that way. Let us admit that the balance of precedent may go his way. We are dealing here with a very exceptional state of affairs, and one of the features of it is that we know very well some, at least, of the cases which will come up.

There is then the point made so clearly just now by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) that I do not wish to repeat it. I said something of the same sort myself at an earlier stage, and I take this opportunity to thank the right hon. and learned Attorney-General for the letter which he wrote to me about it. He will not consider me ungracious if I say that his letter did not quite meet the point as it was put just now by my hon. Friend and, I think, as I put it originally.

There is a third point. It seems to me that confusion may well arise if one of the titled parents of someone who is a Member of this House dies now, quite apart from the point about notice. It may well put people in a very difficult position. I do not know anything about age, health or chances, but I do know that buses can hit people. With not a very long period, but a distinct period to run, it would be unwise to postpone the operation of the Bill. It is likely to cause far more trouble in the long run than it would if one did not follow the usual rule—I refer to all Acts of Parliament—and let it come into operation when it is passed.

Therefore, apart from any party question, but merely for the convenience of everyone concerned, I should have wished that the right hon. Gentleman would consider this matter and see whether something could be done to meet it. After all, we have reached only the Committee stage. We did not consider this point in any detail in the Select Committee, but—and I can only speak for myself—it did not occur to me that the Bill would not come into operation otherwise than at once. I just assumed that it would. That is the assumption that one would make unless there were some indication to the contrary. Although, if we looked carefully through HANSARD, no doubt we might have found some indication contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman said just now, we were proceeding on the assumption that the provision would come into operation as soon as the Bill was passed.

This is a Bill which represents a great deal of common agreement. We have

been debating only minor matters in this Chamber. We attach considerable importance particularly to the drowning point, but it is not the whole basis of the Bill. Since it is to that extent an agreed Measure, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say that he will look at this point again.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I was not a member of the Joint Select Committee, but I accept what the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) says, namely, that there was no particular discussion on this point. Whatever assumptions people may have made, there certainly was no bargain. It was not part of what has been commonly called "the package deal". Of course, we can see that this is studied again in another place. I gladly agree to that. But I wanted to acquit myself—and I apologise if I did it with some heat—of the charge of not having carried out both the letter and the spirit of the matter. I think that the quotations which I have given do that adequately.

The only point which, I think, weighs against the precedents is that to which I drew attention, namely, that, although it is unlikely, a colleague of ours in the House of Commons could conceivably be affected. But I do not believe that that is sufficient to outweigh the precedents which I quoted.

I must, therefore, leave the matter to the Opposition. If they wish to register their opinion by a vote, I would advise the Committee to reject the Amendment, but I will see that this matter is considered in another place.

Mr. Mitchison

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman understands the position. We think that we should register our opinion. I am obliged—I am sure that we all are—to the right hon. Gentleman for saying that he will look at the matter again, without giving any commitment.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 174, Noes 113.

Division No. 154.] AYES [6.54 p.m.
Aitken, Sir William Baroford, Brian Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Allason, James Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Biggs-Davison, John
Ashton, Sir Hubert Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Bingham, R. M.
Atkins, Humphrey Bell, Ronald Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel
Barter, John Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Bishop, F. P.
Black, Sir Cyril Hughes-Young, Michael Ramsden, James
Bourne-Arton, A. Iremonger, T. L. Rawlinson, Sir Peter
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward James, David Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)
Brains, Bernard Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Renton, Rt. Hon. David
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Brooman-White, R. Kaberry, Sir Donald Ridsdale, Julian
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld)
Buck, Antony Kershaw, Anthony Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool,S.)
Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn) Kitson, Timothy Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Carr, Rt. Hon. Robert (Mitcham) Lambton, Viscount Roots, William
Cary, Sir Robert Lancaster, Col. C. G. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Chataway, Christopher Leavey, J. A. Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan
Chichester Clark, R. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shaw, M.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Litchfield, Capt. John Shepherd, William
Cleaver, Leonard Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Skeet, T. H. H.
Cooper, A. E. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Spearman, Sir Alexander
Corfield, F. V. McAdden, Sir Stephen Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Costain, A. P. MacArthur, Ian Stodart, J. A.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne McLaren, Martin Studholme, Sir Henry
Crawley, Aldan McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Summers, Sir Spencer
Curran, Charles Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Doughty, Charles Maclean, SirFitzroy(Bute&N,Ayrs) Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
du Cann, Edward Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Teeling, Sir William
Duncan, Sir James McMaster, Stanley R. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Eden, Sir John Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maddan, Martin Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Maitland, Sir John Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Errington, Sir Eric Marlowe, Anthony Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Finlay, Graeme Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Thornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin
Fisher, Nigel Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Freeth, Denzil Mawby, Ray Turner, Colin
Gammans, Lady Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Gardner, Edward Mills, Stratton Tweedsmuir, Lady
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central) Montgomery, Fergus van Straubenzee, W. R.
Glover, Sir Douglas Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Vane, W. M. F.
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Neave, Airey Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Goodhart, Philip Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Vickers, Miss Joan
Goodhew, Victor Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Green, Alan Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Grosvenor, Lord Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Gurden, Harold Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wall, Patrick
Hall, John (Wycombe) Osborn, John (Hallam) Ward, Dame Irene
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Page, Graham (Crosby) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Peel, John Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd) Percival, Ian Woodhouse, C. M.
Harvie Anderson, Miss Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Woollam, John
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pitman, Sir James Worsley, Marcus
Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Pott, Percivall Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Holland, Philip Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Hollingworth, John Prior-Palmer, Brig, Sir Otho TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Pym, Francis Mr. J. E. B. Hill and Mr. Ian Fraser.
Albu, Austen Evans, Albert Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Fell, Anthony King, Dr. Horace
Bacon, Miss Alice Fitch, Alan Lawson, George
Bence, Cyril Fletcher, Eric Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Benson, Sir George Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H.W. (Leics, S.W.) George,LadyMeganLloyd(Crmrthn) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Bowles, Frank Ginsburg, David Loughlin, Charles
Bradley, Tom Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Lubbock, Eric
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Greenwood, Anthony McBride, N.
Brockway, A. Fenner Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) MacColl, James
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. MacDermot, Niall
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, w.) McInnes, James
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hamilton, William (West Fife) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Callaghan, James Hannan, William MacPherson Malcolm (Stirling)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Harper, Joseph Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Chapman, Donald Hayman, F. H. Manuel, Archie
Collick, Percy Henderson,Rt. Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis) Mason, Roy
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Herbison, Miss Margaret Millan, Bruce
Dalyell, Tam Hilton, A. V. Mitchison, G. R.
Dempsey, James Holman, Percy Moody, A. S.
Diamond, John Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Dodds, Norman Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.)
Donnelly, Desmond Hunter, A. E. O'Malley, B. K.
Duthie, Sir William Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Oram, A. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Paget, R. T.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Pargiter, G. A.
Parker, John Skeffington, Arthur White, Mrs. Eirene
Pavitt, Laurence Small, William Wilkins, W. A.
Peart, Frederick Sorensen, R. W. Willey, Frederick
Rankin, John Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Steels, Thomas Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Reynolds, G. W. Strachey, Rt. Hon. John Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Rhodes, H. Swingler, Stephen Wyatt, Woodrow
Robertson, John (Paisley) Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton) Tomney, Frank
Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.) Wade, Donald TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ross, William Warbey, William Mr. Sydney Irving and
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Weitzman, David Mr. Redhead.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time and passed.