HC Deb 13 March 1963 vol 673 cc1391-3
Mr. A. J. Irvine

I beg to move, in page 9, line 6, to leave out "extend".

The Clause empowers the Board of Trade by order to give effect to the recommendations of the Commission on Units and Standards of Measurement, which is set up by the Bill. The power to make orders is very wide and is conferred in language which goes very far, even to the length of saying that an order may extend to any provision contained in the Bill.

We do not like that wording, and we indicated that that was our view in Committee. We believe that the Bill's wording almost goes out of its way to invite too free and wide a use of order-making powers. We think that the power to extend is comprised in the power to amend which is conferred by the Bill, so that to that extent this can be regarded as a comparatively narrow point.

None the less, we think that the question of emphasis is important. Any undue emphasis on the extent of order-making powers is not desirable. It is undesirable explicitly to confer a power to extend the provisions of the Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary has revealed a readiness to consider the matter. The hopes which he gave birth to, so to speak, in our hearts and minds are still sustained, and I hope that some concession will be made in this matter.

Mr. D. Price

An Amendment similar to this one was moved by the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) in Standing Committee. As I explained then, the word "extend" is used here in relation to changes in the Bill which may be necessary in order to give effect to certain recommendations of the Commission on Units and Standards of Measurement. Matters on which the Board is empowered under subsection (2) to make orders which may involve extension of the Bill are strictly limited to a narrow field of purely scientific and technical interest. But, within this narrow field, extension may be necessary if the Commission's recommendations are to be carried out. For instance, the definition of a unit of time or a thermometric scale may be introduced into the First Schedule by virtue of a recommendation of the Commission. The purpose of including the word "extend" is to make clear what we mean.

As I told the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill in a letter which I sent him after our discussion in Committee, although we agree that the word "extend" in addition to "amend" may not be strictly necessary since "amend can be regarded as covering "extend", we think that it helps to clarify the subsection. As we intend, if the Commission so recommend, to extend the provisions of the Bill, it would be more proper to let the word extend" remain in the Bill. Since we discussed this in Committee, I have given some thought to this matter, and I still feel that it is proper to leave the word "extend" in, although, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, this is a comparatively narrow point.

I hope that, with that explanation, the hon. and learned Gentleman will feel able to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. D. Price

I beg to move, in page 9, line 18, to leave out from "thereof" to the end of line 19.

During the debate on the Clause in Standing Committee, hon. Members asked why it was necessary to have the phrase any irregularity in the appointment of any person to be a member thereof in subsection (4).

It was suggested that it could mean that the Commission could function irregularly for years because an irregular appointment had been made. I expressed some sympathy with that point of view, and, after considering what was said in Committee, I have come to the conclusion that it is not really necessary to provide in the Bill for any possible irregularity in the appointment of members of the Commission.

I therefore hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House.

Mr. Darling

I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary has accepted the criticisms that we made of the use of the word "irregularity" in Committee. I suppose that we may now take it that the Minister is convinced that he is quite incapable of making an irregular appointment to the Commission, or may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has been assured that it will not make a great deal of difference if an irregular person is irregularly appointed? I am sure it is the latter case that allows the Parliamentary Secretary to ask us to take these unnecessary words out of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.