§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, this is a Bill that had a remarkable and extremely recent origin. It had its origin in a decision on which I will say nothing. The decision of the Court of King's Bench was that where the conpensation authority in a county borough, which under the Licensing Act consists of the whole body of justices, does not delegate its powers to a committee, then it is necessary that at least a majority of the justices acting for the borough must attend and take part in the proceedings in order to render them valid. I am afraid the consequences of this decision may be far-reaching, because there are other statutes and provisions containing like words and the effect would be to set aside a great number of transactions as being invalid for this technical reason. The legitimate and natural course would be to go to the Court of Appeal on a decision of this kind, but, unfortunately, that takes time and the whole licensing business would be in chaos in the meantime. It has, therefore, been thought preferable for His Majesty's Government to introduce a Bill to meet this point.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
I think your Lordships will be most anxious speedily to 815 pass this Bill, which remedies what is an obvious inconvenience. I think, however, it might be argued that by the wording of the Bill the justices should be "assembled for the purpose" in the notice. I think it would be better to strike out the words "assembled for the purpose," and insert the words "duly assembled" though I daresay there would be a further point on the word "duly."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I need not say that any suggestion from the noble Lord to secure certainty in this enactment will be gladly accepted.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
The noble and learned Lord opposite expressed a desire that the Bill should pass speedily. I agree with the noble and learned Lord, and, if he does not object, we will pass it at once.
§ Committee negatived; then (Standing Order XXXIX having been suspended), Bill read 3a and passed.