THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My Lords, I rise to ask why the Regulations made in pursuance of the National Insurance Act, 1911, and laid upon the Table, have not been printed and circulated, and to move that all such Regulations shall in future be printed and circulated. Your Lordships will recollect that a very important part of the administration of the Insurance Act passed last year is left to Commissioners by means of Regulations. The Act also stated that certain of those Regulations were to be laid on the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and that if either House adopted an Address against any one of them the Regulation was to fall. Several Regulations appear to have been made provisionally; they seem to have been presented, but further than that this House has no cognisance of them at all. Regulations were laid as long ago as February 14; another was laid on February 22 and another on the 27th, and the twenty-one days given to Parliament in which to consider these Regulations have been running since that time. The Regulations have not been printed and circulated, and therefore if things are to continue like this there will be no possibility of checking or scrutinising the Regulations which the Commissioners make.
419 This question was raised in 1910 by the late Lord Onslow, and the noble Marquess who leads the House and Lord Sheffield and one or two others all took the same view—that when an Act says that a certain period is to be given to the Houses of Parliament in which they may consider Regulations, that period should be a real period, and that the Regulations themselves should be presented to Members and they should have an opportunity of looking at them. There are, of course, different kinds of Acts of Parliament. Some Regulations are ordered to be laid on the Table which, perhaps, may not be so important, but in this particular case the Regulations are of exceptional importance. It is most desirable, indeed it is absolutely essential, that all of your Lordships should have an opportunity of looking at them and of taking any action with regard to them that you may think necessary.
Now we come to the question whose fault this is. It is very difficult to say, because the Minister who presents the Regulations apparently does not use the mystical words that they are "to be printed," and because he does not use those words, according to the practice of your Lordships' House, they appear not to be printed. When questioned on the matter the Minister naturally says he was not aware that it was necessary to use the words that they should be printed. Therefore that is his excuse. Then, on the other hand, we come to the regulations of this House. The practice of this House, I must say, appears to me to partake of red tape on particular occasions, particularly with regard to the words "to be printed." When you present a Bill, if you do not use the words that it be printed, although you present it and have it read a first time it is never printed. However, the important thing is this, that with regard to the Insurance Act at all events it is most important that your Lordships should see these Regulations and should have an opportunity of considering them during the twenty-one days on which they lie upon the Table of the House. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF LIVERPOOL
My Lords, the facts of the case are exactly as the noble Earl has stated them, but I think I can in a few words state what has happened as regards these Regulations. It is true that they were printed in the House of Commons but not in this House. I am given to understand that when Regulations are printed by one House of Parliament they are not printed by the other; and in this case they have not been printed by this House. These particular Regulations were not circulated in the House of Commons, and they have not, as your Lordships know, been circulated here.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I asked for a copy the other day and could not get one. I was told that there were no printed copies.
THE EARL OF LIVERPOOL
There are, I know, copies to be obtained in the Printed Paper Office, though they have not been circulated. The Regulations were mentioned on the Pink Paper which is sent round to your Lordships, and any noble Lord who desired a copy could have had it sent to him if he had requested it. This really resolves itself into a question of expense, and an enormous amount of expense would be involved if all Regulations were printed by both Houses of Parliament. Every noble Lord has a right to move that particular Regulations should be printed and circulated; but I understand that the Regulations in question are available at the Printed Paper Office in your Lordships' House to any noble Lord who asks for them, and the Treasury will be glad to give any other Papers with regard to this Act.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE)
I should like to say a word with regard to one statement that was made by the noble Earl Lord Camperdown. In the case of Bills which are presented and read a first time it is not necessary for the Peer introducing the Bill to move that it be printed. It is printed and circulated as a matter of 421 course. I believe that is the only form of circulation—the circulation of Bills—which the house does of itself.
§ LORD SANDERSON
I would venture to call attention to what appears to be a curious anomaly in the practice of this House. Every time a scheme for a professorship at a University or for a change in the scheme of a college or even a grammar-school is laid on the Table of your Lordships' House it is printed and sent round with the Votes, whereas Regulations of the importance of those referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Camperdown, are not circulated. Sometimes we get notice of important Regulations in the Pink Paper, though sometimes we do not.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
The practice referred to by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches (Lord Sanderson) has, I think, often struck us as involving something of an anomaly. It is true that the schemes which are regularly circulated to us are by no means always of universal or even of wide interest, whereas in particular cases some Papers, such as the one in question, which are not regularly circulated are of greater interest and importance; but it has been and remains the custom of the House to print and circulate everything which can be described as a scheme, whereas Regulations are not as a rule circulated or even printed unless the House so orders. I should have considerable hesitation in adding either to the expense which would be involved or to the mass of printed matter which your Lordships would receive by suggesting a universal and general printing and circulation of all Papers which might conceivably be printed, and I confess that I am not clear as to any method by which the difficulty to which the noble Earl has drawn attention can be met except by the readiness of individual Peers to ask in particular cases for the printing and circulation of Papers in which they are specially interested. That would certainly involve no small degree of watchfulness on their part, and even something of a prophetic gift in knowing that the twenty-one days, or whatever the period would be, were approaching during which the Papers would have to lie on the Table. But I own that I am not prepared to ask the House to agree to a general printing or circulation of all such Papers. Neither am I prepared with any system by which those 422 of special interest to a considerable number of peers can be automatically forthcoming. In those circumstances I confess I do not see that there is very much to be done. In this particular case I understand from my noble friend that copies of the House of Commons print are now available in the Printed Paper Office here. I hope that that may satisfy the noble Earl so far as this particular case is concerned, although I fully appreciate that he may not feel quite satisfied unless some adequate suggestion is made for dealing with the question as a whole.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I do not think my noble friend, or any one else who sits on this side of the House, desires to suggest for a moment that all Papers, no matter what their importance, should be circulated. That would, no doubt, occasion a great deal of unnecessary expense. Besides, we are always able, if we pay any attention to the Pink Papers which are circulated from time to time, to ask for a particular Paper if we desire to have a copy of it. But the case my noble friend has in view is rather a different one. He is talking about Regulations issued in order to give effect to a very important Act of Parliament. The tendency in these days—I say it with all possible respect—is to shirk a great many of the minor difficulties of legislation and to deal with many points of detail in Regulations, which are really parts of the Act itself. Whenever that takes place I think the House is entitled, as a matter of course, to be supplied with copies of the Regulations in due time. That is what my noble friend presses for, and that, I think, we should all of us like to see carried out.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I am not very fond of the argument of tu quoque, but I should like to remind the noble Marquess the Leader of the House of what he said in the year 1910 when this same question came up. He then said—With regard to the general question of the laying of Regulations I have no hesitation in saying there could not possibly be two opinions that when it is provided in an Act of Parliament that a Regulation should be laid on the Table of either House or both Houses during a fixed time that period should be a real period, and that the Regulations should be available during the whole of it.I entirely concur with that, and if the noble Marquess will look at my Motion he will 423 see that I have limited it to the Insurance Act. There is no doubt that in this particular Act exceptional powers are given to the Commissioners, and it seems to me most desirable that your Lordships should have every opportunity of seeing the Regulations in sufficient time to enable objection to be taken to any of them with which noble Lords may not agree. How we are to obtain information as to when these Regulations are laid on the Table raises a point of difficulty. I think Lord Liverpool said that the fact that they had been laid was set out on the Pink Paper. I generally look at the Pink Paper, and there are one or two noble Lords near me who do so, but none of us recollects seeing any reference to these Regulations. That is all I can say. With regard to the general practice, I believe it is this. Once in every week a Pink Paper is issued containing a notice of every Regulation which is lying on the Table, but if your Lordships do not happen to look at the Minutes on that particular day in the week you have no opportunity of seeing the Pink Paper again for another six days. I hope that your Lordships will insist on this occasion on these particular Regulations being invariably printed and circulated.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Perhaps, by the indulgence of the House, I may be allowed to say that I certainly do not depart in any way from the opinion quoted by the noble Earl, which is that during the time that Regulations of any substance are lying on the Table of the House they should be at the disposal of anybody who wants them. I do not think that that necessarily involves their circulation in all cases to the whole House, although I have no doubt the noble Earl thinks that in this case circulation ought to have taken place. Whether or not the notice respecting these Regulations appeared on the Pink Paper I am not from personal observation in a position to state, but I quite agree that it should have so appeared in a case of the importance of these particular Regulations. It would, of course, I may remind the House, have been open to anybody during the discussion on the National Insurance Bill when it was in the House to have expressed the opinion that the Bill was of a character which would justify an order for circulating the Regulations under it, and I have no doubt it would have been done. It is not altogether easy to say upon whom the 424 responsibility is to lie of saying that certain Regulations are of such general importance that we ought to go to the not inconsiderable expense of circulating them. In this particular case it might no doubt have been done, but some other case may occur in which other noble Lords will rise with indignation at not having seen certain Regulations which, on the other hand, may not be of acute interest to a great many other noble Lords. Therefore, although in this particular instance, if the noble Earl desires it, I have no wish to oppose the instruction that these Regulations should be printed and circulated, I cannot promise that in some future case some noble Lord will not complain that certain Regulations in which he is deeply concerned have met the same fate as these—namely, that they were only able to be obtained on application at the Printed Paper Office.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.