HL Deb 27 November 1940 vol 118 cc38-40

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a short and simple measure, but, from the point of view of Scottish administration, not unimportant. I should like to explain its provisions quite briefly to your Lordships. By Section 3 of the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act, 1939, the Fishery Board for Scotland was abolished, and the functions which it had hitherto discharged were transferred by that Statute to the Secretary of State for Scotland. By the same Act an Advisory Council was set up in order to advise the Secretary of State with regard to the discharge of the duties which were transferred to him by that Act, and the number of members of the Council was fixed by the Act of Parliament at twelve. It was further provided that the members of the Council should be selected after consultation with the various bodies in Scotland who are interested in the fishing industry. That consultation duly took place. But it was found in practice that, having regard to the number of fishing interests in Scotland, they could not be adequately represented upon the Council so long as the statutory maximum of twelve was strictly adhered to. Accordingly this Bill proposes to abolish the statutory maximum of twelve members, and to leave the determination of the number of members to the Secretary of State to decide, as circumstances may dictate. Your Lordships will remember that the Secretary of State remains on the floor of another place responsible for this and for all his other actions.

I hope that this proposal will commend itself to your Lordships as being a reasonable one in the circumstances, particularly when regard is had to the difficult wartime conditions which affect the fishing industry, and having regard to the still more difficult conditions which it may be anticipated will affect the industry when war is over. I shall not detain your Lordships by another sentence except to say this, which may be of interest to my noble friends opposite. It is intended upon the enlarged Council to give adequate and full representation to labour interests. And I may add that the proposal which has been made to do so has the concurrence and endorsement of the Minister of Labour, who has been specifically consulted on the subject. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Alness.)


My Lords, my noble friends have asked me to say a word on this Bill. We entirely approve of it, but it is not very clearly drafted. I hope that my noble and learned friend will forgive me for pointing that out. When I first read this Bill, it did not seem at all clear that the number would be extended, although I knew that that was needed. I thought at first that it was going to be reduced, in the same way as so many other war-time measures have, for convenience, reduced the number of members of statutory bodies. It was only upon inquiry that I found what the position was. It is not worth while making any alteration now, because the explanation which the noble and learned Lord has given will stand for reference in future; but I hope that in future a little more care will be used to clarify the drafting of these measures.

On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.