HC Deb 21 July 1967 vol 750 cc2668-70

11.30 a.m.

The Solicitor-General

I beg to move Amendment No. 11, in page 106, line 9, at the end to insert:


In section 25 for the words from 'sections' to '1960', where last occurring, there shall be substituted the words 'sections 20, 52 and 53 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967'.

I move the Amendment in this form, not in the form in which it appears on the Notice Paper. On further consideration it has been thought that the rest of the Amendment is unnecessary, namely, and at the end of the said section 25 there shall be added the following paragraph:— 'Until the coming into operation of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967 the foregoing provisions of this section shall have effect as if for the reference therein to sections 20, 52 and 53 of that Act there were substituted a reference to section 43 of the Road Traffic Act 1960 and sections 15 and 16 of the Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Act 1960'.

The Amendment as I now move it arises out of what was said by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) on Second Reading. He then expressed the fear that confusion might arise it the Civic Amenities Bill became law before this Bill. I do not think that there was any real danger of confusion, because, even if the Civic Amenities Bill received the Royal Assent before this Bill, which I understand is not very likely, Section 38(1) of the Interpretation Act would apply and would convert the references to the old law into references to the corresponding provisions in this Bill.

I am sure that the House will agree that it is much more satisfactory for an Act of Parliament, and in particular a brand new Measure such as the Civic Amenities Bill, to show on the face of it what the provisions referred to are. The Schedule makes a number of consequential Amendments in other Acts. It is desirable, now that the Civic Amenities Bill is about to become law, to add a consequential Amendment of it to the others in the Schedule.

Mr. Graham Page

I think that I am justified in being a little angry. I raised this point on Second Reading. I was first called to order by Mr. Speaker. Evidently, I had not expressed the point properly in opening it and it took me a little time to explain to Mr. Speaker how the point was in order, the point being that when another Bill was passing through the other place we should not pass legislation contrary to a Bill which was just reaching its last stages in the other place. My intervention was treated with scorn by the Solicitor-General. He brushed it aside casually and said, "It is a point which does not matter. It is a trivial point."

Then the Government table an Amendment which appears on the Notice Paper today. I saw it only this morning. Even then, they did not get it right and they have had to amend it by a manuscript Amendment. Perhaps in future the Solicitor-General will treat the points I raise on consolidation Measures with some respect.

Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)

I support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). What has happened here shows how important it is to have someone as alert and wise as my hon. Friend, even on a big consolidation Measure like this. I was present for the debate on Second Reading. I confirm every word my hon. Friend has said about the way he was treated by the Solicitor-General.

The real answer is that the Government have been trying to push through at all hours far too much legislation in a short time. It shows the complete and utter mess which the business of the House is in that on a Bill like this, which is an agreed and wanted Bill by both sides—I agree that it is right to have this consolidation Measure—the Government have to amend their own Amendment.

This is one defect we have been able to spot due to the wisdom of my hon. Friend. We do not know how many other mistakes may have crept through in the Bill, despite all our scrutiny. Why cannot the Government get even their own Amendments right without having to table a manuscript Amendment? I deplore the way in which Government's business is being conducted at this stage of the Session.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 7 and 8 agreed to.

Bill reported with Amendments; as amended, considered; read the third time and passed, with Amendments.