HC Deb 12 December 1966 vol 738 cc208-10

[Queen's Recommendation signified]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 88 (Money Committees).

[Mr. SYDNEY IRVING in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the law relating to the proceedings of criminal courts, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of any increase attributable to the provisions of that Act in the sums payable out of moneys so provided under any other enactment;
  2. (b) of any sums required by the Secretary of State for making payments in connection with legal aid under any of those provisions.—[Mr. Taverne.]

12 m.

Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)

May I raise a point on this Resolution, because we all know that it can have a very serious effect on what Amendments can be moved in Committee on the Bill, and I do not recollect a Money Resolution in quite this form before? It seems that, if one wants to move Amendments to the Bill in Committee, and those Amendments should involve the expenditure of money, all one can deal with is any increase attributable to the provisions of that Act in the sums payable…under any other enactment or, under this Bill, to legal aid provisions.

I would have thought that if all that one could deal with were the legal aid provisions that would be a quite inadequate provision, because there may be many Amendments to be moved within the scope of the Bill, and one can almost think of no Bill wider in its scope than this, which has so many purposes that one could move to it almost any Amendment upon almost any matter affecting the criminal law.

As I read it, by providing that the moneys are to be payable "under any other enactment" one can have the ridiculous position that if one wants to make a sensible Amendment to the Bill one has to make it as an amendment of the provisions of an Act—by providing a new Section to that Act, for instance—which is already covered by the Money Resolution. In that case, the Resolution covers it, whereas if one wants to put an Amendment straight into the Bill itself the Resolution will not cover it.

I ask whoever is responsible for this Money Resolution whether my interpretation of it is correct, and whether we may, in Committee on the Bill, be driven to the absurd position of putting down Amendments not to the Bill but to other Acts, and whether the Government will tell us their attitude is that this Resolution is so drawn to tie the Committee on the Bill, or whether, whatever the Resolution says, they will provide a Resolution to enable more extensive Amendments to be moved. If I am right in thinking this Resolution is so drawn it may seriously inhibit proposals we ought to be putting into the Bill—for instance, for a parole board. Am I right in thinking that if we want to provide for a parole board we must do it not by an Amendment to the Bill, as that would not be covered by the Money Resolution, but by a mending the Prisons Act, 1952, or whatever is the relevant Act, as that would be covered?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Dick Taverne)

I think that to some extent what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said is correct. The Money Resolution is based on Clause 68 of the Bill, paragraph (a) of which says: any increase attributable to the provisions of this Act in the sums payable out of moneys so provided under any other enactment. This covers most of the provisions of Clause 28 and Clauses 62 and 64 and the legal aid provisions in magistrates' courts. Paragraph (b) of Clause 68 refers to the sums required…for making payments which are provided for under the Bill and other Acts.

Paragraph (b) of the Resolution is slightly more widely phrased than Clause 68 (b). In fact, it corresponds with paragraph (b) of that provision, except that the Resolution does not specify the precise purposes for which the Secretary of State might have to make payments in connection with legal aid. However, I understand that the payments that are likely to be provided for under Amendments which are covered by the Bill would be covered by the Money Resolution; and, in an exceptional case, this might have to be done in a round-about way. Generally speaking, the effect is to cover either payment under this Measure or under existing enactments.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)

The specific question asked by my right hon. and learned Friend—a matter that has preoccupied hon. Members on Second Reading—is whether the parole board is preferable to the solution in Part III of the Bill, which is at present preferred by the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary promised to keep an open mind about this. As we cannot afford to make a mistake about it in Committee, we must be assured that the Money Resolution will be sufficient to cover Amendments designed to create a parole board.

Mr. Taverne

As I said, it can be done in a round-about way. We believe, I am advised, that the parole board is covered. It may be covered under Clause 64, but we can undertake that if it is not covered, there will be ample opportunity for discussing appropriate Amendments in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received this day.