§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD ARNOLD
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Russell much regrets that it is very difficult for him to be here to-day, as he is engaged on public duties in the country, and in the circumstances I hope your Lordships will permit me to move on his behalf the Second Reading of this Bill. It is an entirely non-controversial measure. The object is to re-enact Section 70 of the Poor Law (Amendment) Act, 1844, which was repealed when the Poor Law Act, 1927, was passed. Section 70 of the Poor Law (Amendment) Act, 1844, gave to justices power to summon witnesses in affiliation cases, but when the Act of 1927 was passed Parliament did not quite notice what was happening, and under some misapprehension magistrates were deprived of this power which they had previously had for nearly a century. As soon as the Act was passed, or very soon after, the legal profession and magistrates noticed the omission, and this Bill is brought forward to rectify that omission. I understand it-has the approval of the Home Secretary. He was spoken to about the matter and this Bill is the result. It does no more than restore the law to what it was prior to 1927. As a matter of fact, the Home Secretary, I understand, not only approves the Bill, but instructed his officials to draft the measure. Therefore I think your Lordships may be satisfied that everything is in order, and that the Bill is non-controversial and is needed in the public interests. I venture to hope that it will meet with unanimous assent. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Arnold.)
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
My Lords, on behalf of the Home Office I beg to say-that the Government welcome the introduction of this Bill, which remedies an oversight in an Act passed a few years ago. Not only do they welcome the Bill, but, as has been said by my noble friend opposite, the Home Office gave every possible assistance in drafting and other matters, and the Government certainly hope that the Bill will pass into law this Session.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
My Lord, this is a short Bill and a simple one to understand. But I do not think it is a good precedent for a Bill to be read a second time on the afternoon of the day on which it was circulated. I only received my copy this morning. I like to read and have time to study all Bills before supporting them. This applies also to the other Bill which stands in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, the Fire Brigade Pensions Bill.
§ LORD ARNOLD
My Lords, I am sorry to hear of these circumstances. As they came from another place the Bills were certainly in the Vote Office last week; I had copies of them myself. I am sorry that they were not circulated before. These Bills have both passed through another place, and if this matter could have been foreseen I think, perhaps, it might have been prevented. I do not quite know how it came about, but the Bills were obtainable because they were printed as from another place.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.