§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL)
My Lords, I understand that the normal procedure with Bills like this, which is a purely Consolidation Bill, is that it should be read a second time and then sent up to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)583
THE EARL OF ELGIN AND KINCARDINE
My Lords, I believe it is very unusual to say anything on the Second Reading of a Consolidation Bill, but there appear to me to be two reasons why I might ask your Lordships' attention for a few minutes. This Bill has only been in our possession for a very short time, and it is almost impossible for a layman to be sure whether the Bill as now presented to the House is merely a consolidation of the other Acts, or whether there is new matter in it, but it does appear under certain clauses to present new matter. Apart from that, under the Bills which have been operating, particularly the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act of 1932, there were provisions for setting up juvenile courts to take over the responsibilities, which had hitherto been responsibilities of the Crown, of judging juvenile cases, and automatically it was suggested, although there was no mention of this in the Act, that the expenses should pass from the taxpayer to the local ratepayer. The provisions of this Bill, partly for that reason, have not been operative in Scotland except in two counties.
Two counties alone have taken the step of forming these juvenile courts, and one of them, the County of Fife, has challenged the position that the expenses automatically follow the transfer of the jurisdiction. That case is now on appeal to your Lordships' House, and therefore the matter is sub judice. From that point of view I think this matter should not have been brought at this stage into a Consolidation Bill and your Lordships asked to consider it. The point which would appear to me to be worthy of consideration is that we are also considering at the same moment the consolidation of the various services of the Scottish Office. All that is being done before a Committee, and it seems to me, therefore, inopportune that at this moment a Consolidation Bill of this kind should be brought before your Lordships' House. As regards the question as to whether or not there is new matter in the Bill, this no doubt will be considered in the Committee upstairs. As regards the other point, I merely represent to your Lordships that it is unfortunate that the matter, having been delayed so long, should now be pressed.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, it was only this 584 morning that the noble Earl was good enough to tell me he intended to raise this point. I understand that what is worrying him is the question of the result of this appeal to which he referred; but my information is that, whatever the result of this appeal, it cannot affect the terms of the Consolidation Bill, which must simply reproduce the existing provisions of Part I of the Act of 1932. I want to stress the point that there is very good reason for not delaying the progress of this Consolidation Bill. The English Consolidation Act was passed in 1933, and the present Bill would certainly have been introduced last year but for the fact that the Education (Scotland) Bill contained amendments of the 1932 Act which it was desirable to include in this consolidation. I am informed that even if the decision in the pending appeal did involve further legislation, that would probably take the form of an addition to, rather an amendment of, the existing enactments. I cannot help feeling that all the points to which the noble Earl has drawn attention are just those points which it will be the task of the Joint Committee to examine.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.
§ Moved, That the Bill be referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.