HC Deb 25 October 1967 vol 751 cc1642-4

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

10.30 a.m.

Mr. Graham Page

Clause 20 deals with Orders and Regulations and with Parliamentary control over the Orders made by the Minister under the Bill. In particular, it deals with Orders made under Section 17, which deals with a subject which caused some anxiety and to which the Joint Select Committee gave a great deal of consideration and the Clause was substantially amended. It was amended, on the recommendation of the Law Commission, so that the offence of taking lobsters in spawn should have the same penalties as the offence of taking crabs in spawn.

The anomaly between the penalties for those two offences had arisen quite accidentally. In the evidence given to the Joint Select Committee it was explained that the provision concerning the taking of lobsters in spawn had got into the Sea-Fishing Industry Act, 1933, in a most casual fashion. It was put into a Section the rest of which had nothing to do with it. The evidence before the Committee was that it seemed to have been put in as an afterthought and had nothing to do with the rest of the Section.

Had it been given full thought it might well have been included in those provisions which require any Order under them to be brought before the House. Subsection (2) of Clause 20 says: Any instrument containing an order under Section 1 of this Act shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. But when we come to Orders under Section 17 they merely have to be laid before Parliament. This is a repetition of the law as it stands under the 1933 Act. To that extent it is consolidation, but it is consolidation on the recommendation of the Royal Commission which recommended an alteration in the penalty. Therefore, once one accepts a recommendation of the Law Commission for an alteration of the law one can question it on other subjects as well. At least that is my submission. I submit that—

The Chairman

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I cannot allow that proposition to pass without challenge. It is open to comment on any recommendation made by the Law Commission, but it is not open in Committee to introduce some new change in the law, however desirable hon. Members may think it, unless it arises from some specific recommendation of the Law Commission.

Mr. Page

Immediately I had said it, Sir Eric, I knew that I had expressed it in too wide terms. I think that my criticisms of Clause 20 come within the ambit of the recommendations of the Law Commission in asking that the two penalties be made the same.

The Chairman

I am afraid not. It might have been open to the hon. Member to have made some comments on Clause 17, which deals with penalties, but it is not open on Clause 20 to suggest that there should he any extension or change in the scope of Parliamentary control other than contained in the Acts which are being consolidated by this Bill.

Mr. Page

I do not wish to labour the point. I accept your Ruling, Sir Eric.

I would point out that under Section 17 there is no creation of the offence here. It gives the Minister power to make the offence by Order. The offence has been altered in Clause 17, and it was my thought that I could question it only when it comes to the making of the Order under Clause 20. However, I will not labour the point. I merely put it that under Clause 20 I would have hoped that we could have had subsection (2), the Parliamentary procedure, applying to all Orders under the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 21 to 25 ordered to stand part of the Bill.