HL Deb 26 July 1934 vol 93 cc1133-5

Returned from the Commons, agreed to, with Amendments.


My Lords, in asking you to consider the Commons Amendments to the Middlesex County Council Bill I would venture to draw your attention to Clause 91 as it was when it left your Lordships' House. It is the clause which provides for the appointment of a salaried Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions. When this clause left your Lordships' House there was a provision in it that these officers should not be eligible to be members of the House of Commons. This provision has been omitted in another place. That is not because, as I understand it, there is any objection on principle, but because Mr. Speaker held the view that it was not suitable that such a provision affecting the constitution of the House of Commons should be made in a Local Bill. The effect of passing the Bill in its present form will be that the clause, which might possibly create a precedent, will embody a principle for which, I think, little support will be found, and I should point out to your Lordships that the only direct precedent for this clause is Section 42 of the Local Government Act, 1888, which authorises the appointment of a paid Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the London Sessions. It is there provided that such Chairman or Deputy Chairman shall not be eligible to be members of the House of Commons. That, of course, is a Public General Act and it was not open to the objection which Mr. Speaker has raised in this case.

Your Lordships might possibly think, in the circumstances, that the proper course would be to withdraw this clause pending the passing of public legislation which would disqualify the holders of such appointments from sitting in another place. But I would venture to suggest to your Lordships that this course should not be taken in the present instance because the proposal that there should be a salaried Chairman and Deputy Chairman has been the subject of long negotiations, and it is, moreover, very generally desired by the County of Middlesex. Indeed it is a fact that two gentlemen have been chosen by their fellow justices for the posts of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Quarter Sessions, in the expectation that they will be appointed by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack in whom the appointments to these two salaried posts lie.

I understand from His Majesty's Government that public legislation of the kind I have mentioned is at this moment in active contemplation. I do not propose, if your Lordships concur, to regard this clause as a precedent, but I should, I think, be opposed to a similar provision being introduced into any other Act affecting any other county or borough until such public legislation has been passed. Of course the matter is entirely for your Lordships' decision, but I would suggest in the circumstances that your Lordships' House should agree with the Commons Amendments. I beg to move that the Commons Amendments be agreed to.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.