§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill, which has already four times passed your Lordships' House without a Division, and which is in exactly the same form as when it was proposed and passed here in the last Parliament. The object of the Bill is very simple—to re-affirm and state the ancient traditional status of the Judiciary; and the justification, if not the need, for this is that in the Economy Act of 1931 no distinction was made, or at any rate it so appeared, between His Majesty's Judges and His Majesty's civil and military servants. A great feeling was aroused, which was expressed by the Lord Chief Justice, because that distinction had not been observed. In the first draft the noble Marquess, the late Lord Reading, took exception to some of the details, and those were amended on his Motion, but so far as I know there is no opposition to this Bill in its present form, either in this House or in another place. Unfortunately, as so often happens, it failed for want of time in another place, but I have some hope that on this occasion it will be possible to secure its passage.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Rankeillour.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will join with me in admiring the tenacity of purpose and perseverance of my noble friend. Since the days of his distinguished countryman Robert the Bruce I doubt if there has been any comparable case. I feel that the College of Heralds ought to grant him an enrichment of arms with a spider climbing a 420 golden thread, under the motto of "Hope springs eternal"!My noble friend showed admirable ingenuity in finding something fresh to say about this Bill. I am afraid I cannot equal him in finding something fresh to say about it on behalf of the Government. This Bill has now been read sixteen times in your Lordships' House and has passed your Lordships' House, as my noble friend has said, four times; and I have no doubt it will be read for the seventeenth time this afternoon. The Government have expressed their acceptance of the principle of the Bill, which is all we can discuss on Second Reading, twice by the mouth of my noble friend Lord Sankey in 1934, once by my own lips in 1935, and once by the mouth of my noble friend Lord Zetland in 1936. I can only repeat one or other of these speeches, or indeed the whole of them, to express the attitude of the Government of the day.
My noble friend states that on this occasion he has some hope that time will be found for this Bill in another place. I know that that is a problem which my noble friend is far more competent to deal with than I. He has forgotten more than ever I knew about procedure in the House of Commons. He has heard the King's Speech and seen the varied diet which the Government propose to offer to Parliament this Session. He can adequately estimate how far the digestion of another place is equal to another course being provided for it. I believe that the Whips Office is the door through which the business of the House has to pass, and I know my noble friend has channels not open to me of communication with that Office. I hope he will take courage from the experience of my noble friend Lord Mersey, whose Quail Protection Bill met with a somewhat discouraging answer from the Front Bench in this House, yet I have seen that it has been read a second time in another place. Probably that example may give my noble friend a hint which he of all men is capable of taking. I only speak for the Government in this House, and I can only reiterate that commendation of the principles of the Bill has been frequently uttered from the Woolsack and from the Front Bench of this House.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.