HC Deb 24 June 1974 vol 875 cc1170-2

Order for Second Reading read.

12.18 a.m.

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Peter Archer)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

This is a further Bill in the series initiated by the Law Commission in pursuance of its duty under the Law Commissions Act 1965 to prepare and submit comprehensive programmes of consolidation and statute law revision. I do not propose to embark on a detailed exposition of its contents since it was debated in another place on 4th April and it is the successor of a similar Bill which was proceeding at the time of the dissolution in February.

Suffice it to say that the Bill consists of four clauses and a schedule. The schedule contains the proposed repeals. Clause 1 says that the provisions in the schedule are repealed. Clause 3 states the parts of the United Kingdom to which the Bill extends. Clause 4 recites the short title. Clause 2 deals with the situation arising from repeal of the Industrial Assurance and Friendly Societies (Emergency Protection from Forfeiture) Act 1940, passed during the war to protect those whose policies were in default because of war conditions. It will not save any further policies, but there are some policies still in existence which had previously been saved by that Act and Clause 2 will have relevance to them. Clause 2 in fact simply re-enacts them.

It remains only to pay tribute to the part played in this process by three bodies. The first is the Law Commissioners, who were appointed to shoulder the burden of considering what law reforms were necessary in England and Wales and in Scotland. They have undertaken the consideration of many important subjects for law reform and in addition they are subjecting the statute book to a major revision and spring-clean. I am sure the House will agree that they are to be congratulated on their energy and assiduity in undertaking this task.

Second, there is the Joint Committee on Consolidation. Until recently I was myself a member of that Committee, so I was not then in a position to pay tribute to its activities. How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee? The truth is that the Committee does the thankless and unexciting work of subjecting proposals to a detailed scrutiny which otherwise would fall upon the House as a whole, and possibly at a late hour. Under the chairmanship of Lord Simon, the Committee has performed that task with devotion and diligence.

Third, I should pay tribute to the draftsmen. To their other burdens is added that of undertaking the implementation of the work of the Law Commission. This they have fulfilled in this instance with their usual care and skill.

The Bill is a modest step in the direction of making the statute book less lengthy, more manageable and, one hopes, ultimately more readily intelligible.

12.22 a.m.

Mr. David Waddington (Nelson and Colne)

The Opposition congratulate the two Law Commissions on the completion of yet another exercise in removing obsolete matter from the statute book. It is interesting to note that although some of the enactments to be repealed are ancient—incidentally, it seems a pity that the Deposition of Ministers Act 1592 has to go, whatever it did—many of them are of comparatively recent date, which illustrates the fact that this part of the Commission's work will never end but is a continuing process.

As far as I can see there is nothing in the Bill which requires lengthy discussion tonight, and the Government have been sensible in following a practice initiated by the previous administration in providing for all stages of the Bill to be taken on one night. As a result of this new practice, it is perhaps unnecessary to explore means of dealing with measures of this kind other than on the Floor of the House, because no time need be wasted.

I associate myself with the congratulations to the Joint Committee on Consolidation voiced by the Solicitor-General.

Once again, the Opposition welcome the Bill and are happy to facilitate its speedy passage through the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—(Mr. Golding.)

Bill immediately considered in Committee; reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 56 (Third reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without amendment.

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