HL Deb 25 November 1931 vol 83 cc172-4

Order of the Day for the Second Heading read.


My Lords, this Bill, which comes up each year, is a comprehensive one, and covers many different subjects. Therefore it is impossible, in moving it, to enter into any explanation of any of the Bills; but if your Lordships have any questions to ask about them at this stage I shall be glad to answer them, if I possibly can. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (The Earl of Lucan.)


My Lords, I was going to put down an Amendment to this Bill for the purpose of getting an explanation. The Bill is in a very different form from that to which we have been accustomed in former years. One generally connects the words "expiring laws continuance" with continuing an Act for one year. But, if this Bill is looked at, it will be seen that Part I of the Second Schedule deals with the continuance for one year of a great many Acts, and Part III continues for three years certain other Acts; while the First Schedule makes certain Acts, or parts of Acts, permanent. It says they shall "to the extent specified in column three'' of the Schedule become permanent Acts. When one looks at that Schedule one sees that the first Act is the Seal Fisheries (North Pacific) Act, 1895—" the whole Act." That seems to be quite clear. The second one is the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1914, "so far as it relates to orders made by any court before the thirty-first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-two." That is to say that a great deal of War legislation, without any explanation or White Paper to show what that War legislation is, is now to become the permanent Statute law of the land. The third Act is the Local Government (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1916—also War legislation—and a portion of it is made permanent in the vaguest language that I have ever seen in a Bill brought before Parliament. Defining the part of it which is made permanent it says: Section six, so far as it confers rights on officers or servants of a local authority in respect of their service or employment in or about certain premises. I should be very glad if my noble friend would give an explanation of the reason of this, and of what these two last Acts mean.


I heard this afternoon that my noble friend was going to ask a question on this subject, and I have tried to get some information from the appropriate Department. These Acts which are made permanent are so made in consequence of the Report of the Select Committee on Expiring Laws, which met in July of this year. It is held every three years, I understand. They go through the list and weed out certain measures which perhaps they think may be no longer useful. It seems rather an odd way to weed them out by making them permanent, but I will explain that to the noble Lord later. As regards the first Act, the Seal Fisheries (North Pacific) Act, that has been an annual Bill for thirty years and more; and under it His Majesty can make Orders in Council protecting Heals in the North Pacific. It chiefly concerns Canada, and Canada has asked that it should be made permanent. It is important that it should be made permanent before the Statute of Westminster becomes law, because otherwise making it permanent would entail two Acts, one in this country and one in Canada, in order to accomplish that object. It is an enabling Act, and not an operative one; it merely empowers the King to make Orders in Council.

As regards the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1914, made permanent "so far as it relates to orders made by any court before the thirty-first clay of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-two," the explanation of that given in the "Report of the Select Committee is this. The Lord Chancellor's Department desires that it should be made permanent: The Act has been continued only so far as it validates orders made by a court be-fore 31st August, 1922. There are no means of ascertaining whether or not there are still on foot some such orders which depend for their validity on the powers conferred by this Act, and in these circumstances the Lord Chancellor's Department consider that it would be best to make the Act permanent, leaving it to be repealed, with the usual savings, by the next Statute Law lie-vision Act. Scottish office and Ministry of Finance of Northern Ireland concur. The object, I understand, of repealing it instead of allowing it to lapse is that any orders which have been made under it remain in force in the case of a repeal, but in the case of a lapse they would lapse too. Therefore it is to be made permanent in order to be repealed.

In regard to the Local Government (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1916, Section 6, so far as it confers rights on officers or servants of a local authority, as the noble Lord said, was passed as a War measure to enable local authorities to lend their buildings for public purposes, chiefly, apparently, as mental hospitals. It is believed that there is only one institution now left under this arrangement. But the object of making the section permanent in order to repeal it is to ensure that any employees of the local authority who worked at this particular work during the War shall return to their local authority to serve for their pensions. As some of them are young and may have to serve a certain length of time before they receive a pension, it is important that this provision should be kept in force in order that their rights to pension shall be secured. That, I think, deals with the three Acts that the noble Lord asked me about, and I hope that he is satisfied with the information I have been able to afford him.


I am much obliged to the noble Earl; but may I ask whether the White Paper has been circulated to Parliament?


I think it is a public Paper.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at half past five o'clock.