HC Deb 28 July 1965 vol 717 cc637-8

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

11.58 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I do not think that we can let the Bill go through without some debate, because there are the same problems in a different form under this Bill, which is the second in the code of five Consolidation Bills, the first of which, the National Insurance Bill, we have just dealt with. A very similar trouble arises with this Bill, which shows what a mess the Government may get into if they continue on the lines indicated by the Solicitor-General in his answer to the previous debate.

This Bill again deals with Statute law which was previously in the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts and converts it into this new-semi-Statute law which we were discussing on the previous Bill. I will explain what I mean by referring to one or two of the Clauses in this Bill. I take as an example Clause 3(7): An employer shall be entitled to recover from an insured person, subject to and in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Insurance Act"— that is, Clause 12 of the National Insurance Bill which we have just discussed. This was a Section in the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act and was, therefore, Statute law. It has been consolidated now by reference back to the National Insurance Bill, Clause 12, so that in this case Statute law in the Industrial Injuries Act is demoted to semi-Statute law created in what will become the National Insurance Act. It is the opposite process. In the previous Bill, Statutory Instruments were embodied as part of statute law, with the proviso that the courts may say that they are ultra vires. In this case, what was previously Statute law has been converted into a provision in the National Insurance Bill subject to the declaration of a court that it may be ultra vires.

This causes just as much trouble constitutionally as the other process. It is really a blot on the consolidation which is taking place in these five Bills, a form of consolidation which we are all happy to see and which has been carried out very efficiently except for these precedents which may cause grave difficulty hereafter.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Dingle Foot)

The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has referred to only one provision, Clause 3(7), and, in effect, he says that we are downgrading a statutory provision here and making it subject to Regulation. The short answer is that the Section in the Industrial Injuries Act as it now exists is already subject to amendment by Regulations under the National Insurance Act; so we are not making any substantive change in the law in that respect.

Mr. Page

But the Solicitor-General is applying Clause 116 in the National Insurance Bill, which we have just discussed. I did not mention other Clauses, just as important, if not more so, for example, Clause 35, which has the same effect, that is, demotion and subject to being declared ultra vires by the courts.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Gourlay.]

Committee this day.