HL Deb 19 April 1934 vol 91 cc693-7

Order of the day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read 3a

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a—(Lord Rankeillour.)

interest may possibly be concerned, and I suggest that to reject this Bill, to refuse to allow this orderly development of oil on terms which inflict no injustice on anyone, but which may very likely be of great benefit both to the individual through whose service the oil is extracted and to the nation, would not only be a retrograde step, would not only be a step vicious in itself, but would also be a step calculated to do untold harm to your Lordships' House and to the Party to which you and I have the honour to belong.

On Question, Whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 49; Not-Contents, 17.

Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Chaplin, V. Greville, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Hampton, L.
Bath, M. Hailsham, V. Hanworth, L.
Halifax, V. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
De La Warr, E. Knutsford, V. Hindlip, L.
Feversham, E Sumner, V. Marley, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Merrivale, L.
Leven and Melville, E. Addington, L. Milne, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Amulree, L. Palmer, L.
Malmesbury, E. Bayford, L. Portsea, L.
Midleton, E. Brocket, L. Redesdale, L.
Mount Edgcumbe, E. Carnock, L. Remnant, L.
Munster, E. Chesham, L. Rennell, L.
Plymouth, E. Clanwilliam, L (E. Clanwilliam) Rochester, L.
Rothes, E. Strabolgi, L.
Stanhope, E. Eltisley, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Erskine, L.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Templemore, L.
Cecil of Chelwood, V.
Rutland, D. Exmouth, V. Gladstone of Hawarden, L.
Howard of Glossop, L.
Salsibury, M. Aberdare, L. [Teller.] Lloyd, L.
Carrington, L. Middleton, L.
Dudley, E. Dynevor, L. [Teller.] O'Hagan, L.
Peel, E. Fairfax of Cameron, L. Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)
Radnor, E. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)

MY Lords, I hope I may be permitted to say one word about this Bill before you part with it. There was an indication given by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack that though he was not in any way against the Bill he could not guarantee, or give any kind of guarantee, that the Bill would be passed by the other House or that the Government would use their influence in order to pass it. I hope it is not too late to make an appeal to the noble and learned Viscount and his colleagues to ask their colleagues in the other House to consider this matter rather seriously and to see whether they cannot pass this Bill. I hope it is about to pass your Lordships' House without any opposition of any kind from any section of the House. It has received practically unanimous support. I quite recognise that some of your Lordships think that although the Bill is harmless it is also unnecessary; but I hope that view will not prevail.

It is clear that there are two things to consider. You have to consider not only the question of whether there has been any intentional attack on the position of the Judges, which I do not for a moment suggest. I am quite sure that the present Government never intended to do anything hostile to the position of the Judges. I fully accept that view. But you have also to consider whether their action, however much against their wishes, may not be used in the future as a precedent for some much more pernicious measure. The question that will arise then is what in fact was the case on the present occasion. If it is clear that no attack has been made on the Judges' position, no doubt nothing can be said in favour of something which would be an attack. If that is not clear, if there is really some reasonable doubt on the subject, then undoubtedly the action of the Government may be of very serious disadvantage to one of our most cherished traditions and safeguards of liberty. The question is whether there is any reasonable ground for thinking that such an attack has been made or such a doubt has been thrown.

I would not put my own opinion as worth anything, but we have the fact that the Judges themselves, in their Memorandum on the subject, have really expressed a strong opinion that the position is not satisfactory from their point of view. That does seem to me to be a very strong reason for passing this Bill, if it can be done without great expenditure of time. I cannot believe that there would be any considerable expenditure of time in the other House. So far as we know, not any of the organised Parties are against it. There may, of course, be some small section that would be opposed to it, but I cannot believe that that would take any serious time. I submit to your Lordships that this is really a matter of great seriousness, and I hope the Government will consider very carefully whether they cannot do something to support the Bill in the other House.


My Lords, I should like to say one word in support of the appeal my noble friend has just made. We are all aware of the great difficulties of finding time in another place for Bills, but I feel that this Bill is one of exceptional interest and importance, and the difficulty as to finding time can be overcome with management. I hope the Government will use their power and pressure to enable the Bill to pass.


My Lords, as this is really, as previous speakers have indicated, a non-Party measure, I rise for a moment to associate myself with the plea of the noble Viscounts who have just spoken that the Government should facilitate this measure when it goes to another place. I confess that since one Amendment of some importance was accepted I cannot raise the same enthusiasm as others for this measure; nevertheless it seems on principle to be one of singular importance, and I cannot help feeling that if the Government can possibly spare the time it should be given every chance of becoming the law of the land. We know from experience abroad that this country is particularly fortunate in the absence of the possibility of Governmental pressure being brought to bear upon our Judiciary, and it is really that principle which is at stake in the Bill. It is a very great principle and a very important principle, and I sincerely hope personally that the Government will think fit to give the Bill every opportunity when it reaches another place.


My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow me in a sentence to say how pleased I am to find an appeal has been made to the Government to give facilities for the passing of this measure. The Bill itself amounts to no more than a danger signal, but it is in that character that it is of value. It has been pointed out by many that such a course as was followed three years ago involved a precedent. Let me accept, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil has said, that there was no intention of establishing a precedent. That has been said over and over again in this House, but words in an Act of Parliament speak more strongly and more permanently than a mere expression of opinion to be found in a speech. On that ground I think that if this Bill were placed upon the Statute Book it would remain a monument to the expression of opinion frequently given and would add stability to intentions which have been expressed many times in this House and accepted gratefully by the Judiciary of this country.


My Lords, I am sure that the members of His Majesty's Government have listened with very great care to what has been said by noble Lords who have spoken on the Motion for the Third Reading of this Bill. We will bring what has been said before our colleagues.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.