§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ 2.49 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved, after Clause 2, to insert the following new clause:
§ Constitution of Scottish Associate.
§ —(1) Upon the establishment of the British European Airways Corporation that Corporation shall, with the approval of the Minister, constitute an Associate (to be known as ' The Scottish Associate '), the members of which shall be appointed by the Minister after 950 consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland and shall have their offices in Scotland.
§ (2) The functions of the Scottish Associate shall include the following:
- (a) to advise the Minister and the three Corporations upon all questions affecting air transport in, from or to Scotland.
- (b) to provide such air transport services internally in Scotland and such other air transport services as the Minister may from time to time after consultation with any of the three Corporations allocate to it, and
- (c) to perform such other of the functions which any of the three Corporations have power to perform as the Minister may from time to time direct.
§ (3) The provision of working capital for, and the making of loans to, and the fulfilment of guarantees given for the benefit of the Scottish Associate shall be purposes for which each of the three Corporations may borrow money under the powers conferred by this Act.
§ (4) The Scottish Associate shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chairman and such number of other members, not being less than three For more than nine, as the Minister may from time to time determine and the supplementary provisions contained in the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect in relation thereto with any necessary modifications as they have in relation to each of the new Corporations."
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in the course of the Second Reading and on the Committee stage I have already shown that the reasons behind this proposed new clause have a very deep economical and social basis. I have shown that there is a widespread demand for a measure of devolution of this character. I have shown that it is not a Party issue. I have shown that the Government have not a mandate to carry out a high degree of centralization, and that in fact they are very strongly pledged in the opposite direction. None of these points have been in any way contested in the replies received from the opposite side. What I have asked for is resident, responsible, executive management, but the noble Lord has not, unfortunately, been able to offer me that in the Bill. This Amendment is designed to cover entirely, if I may say so, superficial criticisms, for I think the criticisms which he made were more in form than in substance. He said that my original proposal ran counter to the Bill, but my proposal in this new clause is to make a subsidiary, and provision is already made for a subsidiary in the Bill. He cannot say that it will compete with other Corporations financed by public money, because it will be in his 951 hands to decide exactly what routes should be covered by this new subsidiary.
§ What is proposed, briefly, is that a 100 per cent, subsidiary should be formed under the British European Airways Corporation. This subsidiary would have its directors appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland, it would act in an advisory capacity to the Minister on Scottish affairs and carry out such operations on such airways as the Minister might, in his discretion, determine. The matter is entirely in the Minister's hands and he could, in fact—I do not suggest for a moment that he would—make this clause a dead letter if he so wished. That covers all the criticisms that were made of the structure of the original corporation. I am bound to say that I think this is a big concession. I believe, and I know many other people believe, that the correct arrangement is for a separate corporation, and there will be very great disappointment if this is not carried at the present time.
§ I would like to mention one further point that the noble Lord raised in the course of his reply. He said I had not supported my argument on technical grounds. This is not a technical audience. It is easy to put forward technical grounds, but in point of fact we are all relatively children in the realm of technical development in aviation and none of us really knows what is going to happen. May I take an example? The noble Lord has been criticized for purchasing Constellations. I think that criticism was ill-founded and that the noble Lord did the right thing. I think it was in the interests of civil aviation that he should do so. But the significant thing is that while the Constellation is an aircraft which was designed in 1938, here we are in 1946 and it still has teething troubles. There are so many factors on the technical side of aviation that it is very difficult to be dogmatic, and if you are dogmatic you are certain to be wrong. In any case, if the only difficulties are technical difficulties, might I ask the noble Lord why he has never held a technical investigation? After all, his technical advisers come only from one source.952
§ I will end, if I may, by saying that this is a test case, and if it is found that such a limited measure of devolution cannot be given, there will be little option for many of us but to tell Scotsmen that they will have to find the solution of their problems outside Westminster. That is a serious thing for me to say—a very serious thing—and I would not say it if I did not really mean it. May I ask the Minister to believe that I am not trying to be difficult? I know he has had a difficult and gruelling week, but I am sure that, whatever differences we have, we do believe that the future of civil aviation is going to make a tremendous difference to the life of this country, both commercially and economically. I would ask him to remember the story of King Henry of Navarre, who, after a life pledged ruthlessly to the Protestant interest, at the supreme moment was able to say "Paris vaut bien une Messe—" "Paris is well worth a Mass "—turn Roman Catholic and govern the country with great distinction and ability for many years afterwards. I beg to move.
After Clause 2 insert the said new clause.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, in supporting the Amendment which has been so cogently and logically moved by my noble friend Lord Selkirk I wish to make only one point. Throughout our discussions on this subject one of the main reasons for the Minister's reluctance to allow Scotland to develop her own air services appears to have been the fear that those air services would compete with the services to be provided by the three Corporations. If the original Amendment had been carried, I think the possibility of that competition would have been very remote; but if this new Amendment is carried I think there is no possible chance of competition. This associated company for Scotland will have the full responsibility for all internal services in Scotland; it will have a monopoly of those services. In addition, it will be the Associate's duty to provide services from Scotland to such other places as the Minister may from time to time determine. The suggestion that airlines from Scotland direct to places, say, on the Continent or even to the North American Continent would compete with services run by the Corporations 953 from England to the same places, is equivalent to saying that those of us who live in Scotland should first have to travel to England and then take our air services from England to our destination. I think you will agree that there is no reason at all why, if there is sufficient demand for travel from Scotland to those places outside the country, we should not be entitled to fly direct from Scotland to those places. That is the only point I have to make. There cannot be competition if this new Amendment is carried and therefore I ask your Lordships to support it.
§ 2.58 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, I want to say only a very few words on this Amendment, because your Lordships may well consider that, in the vernacular of the country on the other side of the Atlantic, I "said a mouthful" on the Committee stage. I feel I must support the noble Earl in this Amendment, although, to be quite frank, I would have preferred that the original Amendment should have stood, because I honestly feel that an autonomous Corporation would be in the best interests of Scotland as a whole and would not cut across the main principles of the Bill. Apparently, however, it is felt by those who, I must ' admit, are more qualified technically than I to judge this matter, that this Amendment may possibly work.
As your Lordships may be aware after the Committee stage, I am not at the moment very much in favour of compromise so far as Scottish affairs are concerned. I take this opportunity of saying that I then uttered some very strong words, but I believe that those of your Lordships who have known me in the past will do me the credit at any rate of admitting that I have always sincerely believed what I have said when I have addressed you. No member of your Lordships' House should give expression to views such as I expressed without having given them the most careful consideration. Your Lordships have always tried to keep this House a place where the members were fully mindful of their responsibilities and did not abuse their privileges. But I say again, here and now, that I carefully considered what I said before I said it then, that I have carefully considered it again, and that I believe implicitly every word of it. I am deeply concerned at the outlook 954 for my country of Scotland and its need for more decentralization. This Bill is one of the first measures in which we can deal with that matter. So far as we can see, the Minister has made no concession up to now, and I suppose does not intend to do so—although I do not know. The noble Earl who moved this Amendment I believe prefers from the bottom of his heart his original Amendment. Having regard to the views of others more qualified to speak than myself, however, he has decided that he will withdraw his original. Amendment and substitute this one. I wish to support him in the Amendment which stands in his name.
§ 3.1 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
My Lords, I want to say only one word, because everything we could say was said on Monday, but I wish to appeal to the Government to accept this Amendment. It has been accepted by my friends from Scotland with the greatest of difficulty. They wanted the original Amendment. This is a compromise to which I must say the noble Lord, Lord Winster, shut the door without ever knowing what the exact Amendment would be. I do hope that on further consideration, and having read the Amendment, he will come half way, just as we have come at least half way towards the noble Lord. I would like to point out once more, as I did on Monday, that there is no representative of the Scottish Office on the Front Bench to-day. It is a curious thing that the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, was not here on Monday, and he is not here to-day. He was in the House yesterday, and I can only surmise that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not so whole-heartedly behind the noble Lord, Lord Winster, as perhaps other members of the Cabinet.
I cannot help thinking that the Secretary of State for Scotland remembers that every single Member of Parliament of whatever denomination—Labour, Conservative, Liberal, Liberal-National, Independent Liberal or Independent Labour—was pledged to Scotland having a certain amount of say in what is going to happen to Scotland, and in Bills which affect Scotland. My noble friend the Leader of the Opposition assures me that if this Amendment is not accepted by the Government in this House, we will divide. If we are successful in carrying this Amendment it will go to another place, where every Labour Member of Parliament 955 is pledged to what we have laid down in it. I do not know, now the Election is over, whether the Party Whip will be strong enough to make them think again on what they were so keen to have in 1945. There is no question whatsoever that the whole of Scotland wants this, and that in every similar Bill they will want a similar Amendment.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, in rising to support my noble friend Lord Selkirk, I will not attempt to adduce further arguments. Noble Lords far more qualified to speak than myself have shown that there are no economic or technical grounds, and no considerations of mandate or efficiency, which would justify the Government in the course of reason in refusing this Amendment. If we are to have nationalized civil aviation, surely our course in your Lordships' House is clear. Our only course can be to see that the Bill leaves this House a better Bill than it was when it came in. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, has made what he calls certain "concessions" to Scotland, and, I believe, in all sincerity. He cannot be everywhere at once, with the heavy duties of his office. He must rely to a great extent upon his advisers, and all I can say is that if his advisers have told him that his concessions will satisfy the people of Scotland or make his scheme a really workable one, he has not been advised with any regard for judgment or accuracy.
We have also been told that if this Amendment is accepted, or any Amendment in this spirit, it will conflict with the fundamental principle underlying the Bill. It is hard to divest oneself of somewhat gloomy apprehensions of what that principle may be, but surely His Majesty's Government will not, in the words of Milton, "Try to make the worse appear the better course", in the interests of following a certain doctrine. If they do, the results of this scheme will not be glorious achievement, and they will find that nothing recedes like success. Civil aviation is not the kind of issue which would ordinarily raise deep feelings in a country. It has raised very deep feelings in Scotland. The Scots are volunteers in this matter, and when there is a tide in the affairs of men, let us take it at the flood. To rebuff the volunteer Scotsmen in any project is never wise. 956 This Amendment constitutes a very moderate plea, and in giving my support to my noble friend the Earl of Selkirk I sincerely trust that His Majesty's Government will see their way to accept it.
§ 3.8 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend the Earl of Selkirk in this Amendment. I feel that the Government, if they are not going to grant this Amendment, have not realized the deep sense of Scottish feeling which has emerged on this and other matters which have arisen in Scotland lately. I cannot think that the Government, with their legislation of such important and varied kinds, wish at this moment to fly in the face of Scottish opinion, and if the Government, through the Minister, are not prepared to concede this half measure to Scotland, that is what they are doing. The Scottish Peers in this debate, and in the debate a few days ago on this matter, have spoken with a great sense of responsibility. I could never have conceived a few months ago, for instance, that my noble friend the Earl of Airlie would have delivered a speech such as he did in your Lordships' House a few days ago. It showed the depth of Scottish feeling which has, been aroused in a man of his nature. He has always represented a very moderate element in Scottish affairs, and you can take what he has said as being the feeling of everyone in. Scotland, of whatever political complexion, as my noble friend the Earl of Rosebery has stated.
I do not like to contemplate what may be the result of the turning down of this Amendment by the Government. Like other noble Lords who have spoken, I would have much preferred myself the Amendment which was on the Order Paper the other day. It was only by way of trying to meet the views of the Government and not to press them too hard on a policy on which they are so very determined, that my noble friend, together with his supporters, put forward his suggestion. I make an appeal to the Government, as one who has taken a part in Scottish affairs and as a Scotsman who understands Scottish feeling, to meet Scotland in this matter, and not to plunge Scotland into a state which may have very serious repercussions for the Government and for the United Kingdom as a whole.
§ 3.10 p.m.
THE EARL OF ELGIN AND KINCARDINE
My Lords, I feel I must add a few words to what has been said in support of my noble friend Lord Selkirk. In his replies to the various Amendments in the former stages, the noble Lord, Lord Winster, was apt to place on record that he had made a generous gesture towards Scotland. I feel that in looking at the matter from that point of view, he looked at it from the wrong angle altogether. In addition to what the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said, which has been amplified by other speakers, there is surely this point: that Scotland can deliver the goods. She has proved it not only by the fact that aircraft during the war have worked backwards and forwards across the Atlantic from Scottish airports, but by her ability to supply staff of the calibre necessary to manage the airfields and the air services. Probably from a natural tendency towards depreciation of himself, the Earl of Selkirk may not have stressed that point, but we feel in Scotland not only that we have the goods and can deliver them, but that we have the men who can undertake the management of these affairs and generally look after the job for us. It is from that point of view, as well as from the point of view expressed by noble Lords on the other side of the House, that I press this matter very strongly, and I will give any support that I can to the Amendment which is now before the House.
§ 3.12 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF CIVIL AVIATION (LORD WINSTER)
My Lords, I should like to say at once that I recognize the sincerity and the complete fairness with which the noble Earl has moved this Amendment, and I thank him for the one or two kind references to myself which he made in the course of his remarks. During the debate on Monday an argument was put forward for a fourth corporation. Subsequently to that, the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, made a proposal for setting up a subsidiary to the proposed British European Airways Corporation. The Amendment now on the Order Paper seems to me to recognize that a subsidiary to British European Airways Corporation would not solve the problem of these proposals which have been put forward for meeting Scottish needs. The Amendment proposes that an associate should be formed which 958 would act in the dual capacity of an operator of internal services in Scotland and of other unspecified international services and as an advisory committee to deal with Scottish interests over the whole field.
The proposal to set up any separate operating organization for Scotland in the terms of the Amendment is not, in my opinion, in the best interests of air transport development in the United Kingdom. If it is to enjoy a wide measure of autonomy and to operate services covering the sphere of the three Corporations, as subsection 2 (b) of the Amendment doubtless envisages, it would be open to virtually all the objections which exist to a fourth corporation. The breaking up of our interests into separate economic units would certainly involve uneconomic and inefficient dispersal of our resources. Even if the Scottish Associate is to operate only internal services and those European services to which the noble Viscount referred on Tuesday, it would equally be open to the same objections unless its powers were so limited as to be indistinguishable from the powers of a division of British European Airways Corporation with a wide measure of autonomy.
It is not only a cardinal point of the Government's policy but it is obviously essential in the interests of the efficient conduct of the business that the maximum utilization should be made of our available resources. If a Scottish Associate were formed with a degree of autonomy amounting in fact to independence, the advantages of economical use of aircraft, of equipment, of crews, of training facilities and so on would all be lost. We cannot agree to arrangements involving the wasteful use of resources which the taxpayer will be called upon to finance. If these advantages are to be retained it will obviously be necessary greatly to limit the powers of independent action delegated to such an associate as is proposed. It would be impossible (to devise a relationship between the Scottish associate company and the three Corporations which would avoid duplication of effort and unwarrantable forms of competition.
I could not contemplate that a separate Scottish Associate should operate in competition with the long-distance services of British Overseas Airways Corporation and British South American Corporation. 959 Nor do I believe that many noble Lords opposite believe such a development would be in the best interests of our air transport which will have to compete with foreign air services unhampered by any such artificial distinctions as this Amendment is designed to achieve. It follows that the only possible field for the operation of a Scottish Associate which could be considered is the limited sphere of British European Airways Corporation. Bearing in mind what I have said about the need in the public interest for limiting such autonomy as could be granted in this restricted sphere, I cannot resist the conclusion that the formation of a Scottish division with its headquarters in Scotland and with a substantial delegation of powers, would effectively secure all the operational requirements of Scotland over the whole range of the operations of the British European Airways Corporation.
This, combined with the fact that the chairman of the advisory committee will be a member of the board of the British European Airways Corporation, seems to me to cover quite adequately all the aspects of policy and practice in relation to the development of services of interest to Scotland. In addition, the same advisory committee will be able to make full representations to the chairmen of the other Corporations and to myself on matters covering the whole field of United Kingdom air services. For these reasons, the Government feel unable to accept this Amendment, and I express to the noble Earl my real regret that we have been unable to see eye to eye in this matter. I have to say, as I have said before, that it is the intention of the Government that the arrangements which have been made in respect of Scotland shall be generously, fully and fairly interpreted. We believe that through these arrangements we can give Scotland the air services which she needs, and my efforts will be directed to that end.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition will speak before the debate on this Amendment concludes, but as my noble friends from Scotland have done their very best to meet, in this Amendment, the case that was raised last time, and have adopted the suggestion which I made to reconcile 960 the objections which the Minister raised with the essential principle of a Scottish company, I should like to say a word or two in answer to the arguments which the Minister has advanced. The term "associate," as I understand it, is used because "associate" is a word used in the definition clause in the Bill to cover a subsidiary company or other company. If the Minister would prefer the words "subsidiary company," I am quite sure that my noble friends would readily agree. The whole purpose of this Amendment is to make the Scottish Associate a subsidiary company. There is nothing in the term, because my noble friends have accepted the principle that in any case the Government are to put up the whole of the capital for any of these undertakings. Whether the Government own the capital directly, or through share-holding in one of those Corporations, it will be a Government-owned company. That being so, the Government will appoint the directors. But there is all the difference in the world between a functionary from Whitehall being posted to Scotland with, perhaps, an advisory council and one Scottish member on the Board of a London company, and a board of directors sitting in Scotland. The noble Lord has said that this is impracticable and uneconomical. I repeat what I said last time, because I do not want your Lordships to go to a Division without having appreciated the real economics of the situation.
This is not a theoretical matter at all. In fact, at the present moment the airlines operated in Scotland are operated by a board of Scottish Airways, and that board consists of local directors. They operate those services extremely economically, and not for many years have they required anything in the nature of a subsidy. This is not a matter of sentiment; it is a matter of practical knowledge. I say without fear of contradiction, that if you want to serve the needs of Scotland and to have good economical running, you will get that by practical Scotsmen, who are pretty hard-headed people. They have not made fools of themselves in business, either in their own country or this. If I wanted a company to be well run, I am not at all sure that I would not rather have a Scottish board of directors running it in London than a London board running it in Scotland.
The noble Lord said that we are bound to get duplication and waste. Why? Why 961 should he assume that this Scottish board will run this thing in a thoroughly unbusinesslike way? They have not done so in the case of the existing Scottish air services. He says it would mean separate training for their pilots. Of course it will not mean anything of the sort. He proposes to set up a common training school for the pilots for all his Corporations. Of course, a Scottish company will draw its pilots from the pool. The noble Lord, the Minister, proposes a pool of aircraft. Of course, a Scottish company will draw aircraft from the pool, exactly as to-day Scottish Airways draw their aircraft from a pool. There is no earthly reason why every service which it is economical to use as a common service should not be used by the subsidiary company, and I dare wager that the practical hard-headed Scotsmen on the board will conduct the service in exactly that way.
Then the Minister raised the bogy of competition. There is no question of competition here, and I am sure that if the noble Lord looks carefully at the Amendment he will see that that is so. This company are to be entitled to run two kinds of services. They are to be entitled to run the internal services in Scotland, of which there are quite a number. That will not compete with anybody. It is not claimed that the company should run the services between Scotland and England, but the Amendment would give an opportunity, if that is the economical way of doing it, for the company to run some of the services between Scotland and places outside Scotland. My noble friends have gone a long way to meet the Minister, because they have made the concession in their Amendment that the Minister himself shall say which of the services emanating from Scotland are to be run by this company. He cannot ask for more than that.
If the Minister thinks that it will be more economical to have those services run by B.O.A.C. it will be open to him to say so. If a service were operated from Aberdeen or Glasgow to Oslo, for instance, and it would be more economical to have it run by a Scottish company, then he can assign that to the Scottish company. A service running from Aberdeen to Oslo would not compete with the services from London to Oslo. People will not travel 962 from London to Aberdeen to get to Oslo, nor will they travel from Aberdeen to London. That matter is in the Minister's hands. He will have the opportunity of saying which of these external services could be most economically run. I hope we shall not have to make a polemic issue of this, because I believe it is essentially a practicable and reasonable issue, and in the form in which my noble friends have moved this Amendment they have met every reasonable economic argument which the Minister advanced last time. I hope that we may be able to agree upon this.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, when this matter was before your Lordships' House in Committee I asked the noble Lord, the Minister for Civil Aviation, two questions; one as to the Scottish Division, and the other as to the Scottish Advisory Council. He gave me a very clear and courteous answer as to the intentions of the Government. I want to follow those two questions with a third. If there is to be a Scottish Division, if there is to be a Scottish Advisory Council, ought that not somehow, in some form, to be put in the Bill? After all, all that we get from a statement by the Minister is a pledge from him. It pledges nobody finally. It is not binding: it may be changed.
If we are told that there is to be a Scottish Division or Associate—I am not sure whether there is any real distinction—and a Scottish Advisory Council, the chairman of which as the Minister has told us will automatically be on the board, ought there not to be some statutory guarantee for that? That is the suggestion which I hope the Government will accept. As I said last time, I want British airways, rather than Scottish or English airways. In this association of England and Scotland, Scotland is always apt to be left out of the picture. There must be in the execution of this great scheme somebody who is determined that Scottish airways, and not merely English airways, shall be developed. I hope that the Government will not ask us to leave this Bill as it is, with a mere statement of the intentions of the present Government, but that there will be something in the Act itself to assure Scotland of responsibility for developing, without competition and without waste, the resources of the British European airways.
§ 3.30 p.m.
My Lords, after the very full exposure of the Minister's argument which has already been given on a more technical plane by my noble friend Viscount Swinton, there really remains very little for me to say. I must say I think there can be very few people in your Lordships' House who are not disappointed by the rigid attitude which has been taken by the Government in this matter. As noble Lords will be aware, the first Scottish proposal—a proposal very widely supported in Scotland itself—was for a Corporation. Whatever were the rights or wrongs of that proposal, the Minister could not accept it, and, with admirable moderation, noble Lords who come from Scotland and who quite obviously feel intensely strongly on this question, abandoned the idea of the Corporation and said that they would be ready to accept—I think on my invitation—a subsidiary company instead. That was a very moderate proposal, and one which left all the ultimate power in the hands of the Minister. It would be a mere subsidiary company of the British Corporation. I must say that it hardly occurred to me that the Government would not accept that compromise.
I listened to the Minister to-day, and really the gist of his argument was that this new subsidiary company would be what he called autonomous, and would conflict and compete with all the other companies he appointed. He pointed to paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of the Amendment moved by my noble friend the Earl of Selkirk. What does that say? It says:To perform such other of the functions which any of the three Corporations have power to perform as the Minister may from time to time direct.The Minister can, in fact, limit the operations of the subsidiary company as he wishes. What the subsidiary company does is to provide for the Scottish people a Scottish board sitting in Scotland. That is what they want. I think the proposal is justified on its merits.
The Government will make a very great mistake if they under-estimate the force of national sentiment on this matter. I am not a Scotsman myself, I am an Englishman. But it is quite evident that all over Scotland people will feel passionately on this question, 964 and it is no good Government officials and members of Government Departments who, are, no doubt, largely responsible for this proposal, ignoring these fundamental things. If the Minister could prove that this proposal was going to be disastrous to his scheme, that would be a different matter, but he has merely said in effect that his Advisory Council would have done just as well. It might have done just as well—I do not know. But this is what the Scots want, and there is every reason to believe that this proposal will work. Therefore I do think that the Government are being extremely unwise in slighting Scottish opinion in this way.
There is, all over the British Isles at the present time, a fear of over-centralization. There is a great demand to devolute and to increase local responsibility in local matters. On the broadest political lines, I think the Government are making a tremendous mistake. Indeed, I go so far as to say that if (as I hope we shall) we pass this Amendment, we shall be doing the Government an extremely good turn. In any case, I asked noble Lords who introduced the original Amendment, to propose a modified scheme. They were good enough to take my advice, and my advice to them now is to divide on this Amendment.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, since the House is about to go to a Division, perhaps noble Lords will allow me to add a few words. As one who has been watching the course of the discussion, it occurs to me that there have been two questions brought before your Lordships' House and urged from the two sides of the Chamber. One is the question of national sentiment, and the other bases itself upon practical workability. With regard to the question of national sentiment, my sympathies are wholly with the Scottish Peers. I agree with the view they have expressed here to-day, and with the view they have advanced on previous occasions and in connexion with which I, in another capacity, have identified myself on political platforms many times, both in England and in Scotland, namely, that it is a great misfortune and a great injustice to Scotland that her interests—especially her economic interests—have been so widely ignored. The effect is seen in many ways, such 965 as in the state of the agricultural districts, and my sympathies have always been with the movement, partly headed by my noble friend the Duke of Montrose and others, that, whenever practicable, special Scottish interests should be encouraged and fostered. Well, to that the Minister answers: "That is all very well, but in this particular case all you are going to do will be to cut across the whole machinery of the Bill, and introduce a very large measure of inefficiency."
The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition who has just spoken, says: "How does that matter stand? It stands thus. That Scotland: passionately needs to devote her special attention to her causes, and there is every reason to believe that this proposal will work all right. If not, then the Minister need not put it into operation. It is all left to him as to what shall be the scope of this company. If he does not think they ought to run the services to the Continent from Scotland, he has power to say so." But obviously he will be under the most extreme Parliamentary pressure in your Lordships' House and in another place every day whenever any question of this sort arises. Here we are in a matter of considerable technical difficulty. It is only right for me to say that some of my noble friends on these Benches, who have a close acquaintance with the whole subject and have gone into it very carefully, think there is force in what the Minister has said, that it will not work well. The demand for a separate company (because that is what it will come to be) to run services, having its sole argumentative basis in the fact that it is Scottish and is situated in Scotland, is not a sufficient reason for altering the whole scheme of the organization proposed under this Bill. Consequently, we have had three proposals before, us. My noble friend Lord Beveridge has just mentioned that on the Committee stage he raised the question of a separate organization for Scotland, to cover not merely local services but the whole administration of this Act. Therefore we have three separate proposals. There was a proposal of a subsidiary company. That proposal, though supported by many of the Scottish Peers has been dropped.
I think I am right in saying that "associate" is a technical word which means a subsidiary company. It is exactly the same.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I am sure that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, would not wish to misrepresent the case. The case has been founded entirely on economic and sociological grounds. The basis of the case has nothing to do with sentiment. It has not been possible to develop it this afternoon, but I spoke on the subject for twenty-five minutes a week ago.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
If I may come back to the point, I say that I understood the reason the first Amendment was withdrawn—which was an Amendment for a subsidiary company—
Several NOBLE LORDS: No.
The original Amendment was for a corporation. That was withdrawn, and the proposal was put forward in your Lordships' House that there should be a subsidiary company instead, and inquiries were made as to how this could best be put into drafting form.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
I beg your Lordships' pardon. The three alternatives were: first, a separate corporation (which has now been dropped.), secondly, an associate or subsidiary company, and thirdly, the proposal of the Minister, that there should be a separate Scottish Division which should have considerable power and which should deal not merely with local services but with local services plus the whole work of the Ministry and its operations. It seems a pity that this last proposal has not been very much explored and that it has hardly been dealt with by the Minister to-day. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, raised it on the previous occasion. He now feels the right course is to put a clause in the Bill giving effect to what the Minister proposes to do—namely, to establish a Scottish Division for the whole of the purposes of this Bill. As one not very versed in Bills of this nature, I should like to know whether it may not be that Scotland would gain far more by the much wider scope and much wider powers that would be given by a Division of that character, if it were properly staffed, if it had proper status and were given proper freedom, than it would get by having an associate company to run certain local services at the option 967 and subject to the veto of the Minister. Perhaps the Minister could clear up that point, because I confess that on these Benches we have doubts. While the case has been made out on the ground of Scottish sentiment—
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
The noble Viscount cannot have listened to any of the speeches, or even read the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I prefaced my first remarks by saying that this is not a matter of sentiment at all.
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
The noble Viscount has obviously not read the speeches. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, made a speech which even the noble Lord, Lord Winster, would admit was not based entirely on sentiment. The noble Viscount now gets up and says that this is a matter of sentiment. I do not think the noble Viscount has read the Bill, because he certainly does not know the difference between "a company" and "an associate." I do wish, if criticism is to be raised, that the criticism would be by
§ someone who has taken some trouble to read the speeches.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
I do not object to the noble Earl's interruption. Although I gave way, I do wish he had spoken in a more courteous tone. However, that is by the way. Whether it is a question of Scottish sentiment or of economic desires, that is an issue into which perhaps one need not go further. For my part, I do desire to say that I greatly respect Scottish sentiment, and I see no reason why noble Lords should reproach me for having done something unjust to them in having said so. As for the point to which we are now coming, namely, whether the House should put this clause into the Bill or not, I do not know whether the noble Lord in charge of the Bill is able to say something in answer to the question.
§ LORD WINSTER
I can only speak again by leave of the House. In reply to the proposal the noble Viscount has made, that these provisions concerning the Scottish Division and the Scottish Advisory Council should be inserted in the Bill, I can see no objection to that being done. There may be certain objections which may become apparent, but at the moment I cannot see any objection to that being done.
§ On Question, Whether the proposed new clause shall be there inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 62, Not-Contents, 24.969
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Trenchard, V.||Hazlerigg, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Hutchison of Montrose, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Altrincham, L.||Llewellin, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Beveridge, L.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Carlisle, E.||Bingley, L.||Meston, L.|
|Craven, E.||Bruntisfield, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Carrington, L.||Monson, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Cecil, L. (V. Cranborne.)||O'Hagan, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Courtauld-Thomson, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.)||Daryngton, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Denham, L. [Teller.]||Rockley, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Rotherwick, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||St. Oswald, L.|
|Elibank, V.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Sinha, L.|
|Hailsham, V.||Glentanar, L.||Somers, L.|
|Long, V.||Grantley, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Maugham, V.||Hacking, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Simon, V.||Hankey, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Swinton, V.||Hatherton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Jowitt, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Wimborne, V.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Reading, M.||Ammon, L.||Pakenham, L. [Teller.]|
|Citrine, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Darwen, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Denman, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Addison, V.||Henderson, L. [Teller.]||Strabolgi, L.|
|Samuel, V.||Holden, L.||Walkden, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 4 [General powers of Minister in relation, to the Corporations]:
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 3, line 39, leave out ("such") and insert ("that").
§ Page 3, line 40, leave out ("each such") and insert ("that").
§ Page 3, line 42, leave out ("each such Corporation") and insert ("the Corporation concerned").—[Lord Winster.]
§ Clause 17 [Reserve Funds]:
Page 10, line 16, leave out ("each Corporation") and insert ("the Corporation concerned").—[Lord Winster.]
§ Clause 21:
§ Accounts and audit.
§ 21.—(1) Each of the three Corporations shall keep proper accounts and proper records in relation thereto, and shall prepare in respect of each financial year a statement of accounts in such form as the Minister may, with the approval of the Treasury, direct.
§ 3.56 p.m.
LORD WINSTER moved, in subsection (1), at the end to insert:
being a form which shall conform with the best commercial standards and which shall distinguish between the provision of air transport facilities upon scheduled journeys, the provision of air transport facilities otherwise than upon such journeys, and the carrying out of aerial work which does not consist of the provision of air transport facilities.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee I promised to reconsider the wording of the Amendment to Clause 21 regarding the form of the annual statement of accounts that these Corporations are required to make. This Amendment provides 970 that the statement of accounts shall conform with the best commercial standards and shall distinguish between scheduled services and other air transport work such as charters, freight and other forms of aerial work such as crop dusting, photography or survey work. This Amendment is designed to meet the points which were then raised and I beg to move.
Page 12, line 26, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Winster.)
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, the Minister has entirely met the points raised in the Amendment which I moved on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House. We consider this to be satisfactory, and we thank the noble Lord for having met us.
§ Clause 23:
§ Reservation of certain air services to the three corporations and their associates.
§ (2) In this section the expression "scheduled journey" means one of a series of journeys which are undertaken between the same two places and which together amount to a systematic service operated in such a manner that the benefits thereof are available to members of the public from time to time seeking to take advantage of it.
§ (3) Nothing in this section shall restrict the right of any person—
- (a) to carry passengers for the sole purpose of instructing them in flying or the duties of aircrews; or
- (b) to carry passengers or goods for the sole purpose of providing an air ambulance or rescue service.
Page 14, line 20, leave out ("section") and insert ("Act").—(Lord Winster.)
§ LORD FAIRFAX OF CAMERON moved, in subsection (2), after the second "a"—["a systematic service"]—to 971 insert "regular and." The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to move the Amendment standing in my name I would venture to draw your Lordships' attention to the definition of a "Scheduled service" given in the Bill. It is on page 14, line 22, and it is "journeys which are undertaken between the same two places and which together amount to a systematic service." In particular I would draw attention to the word "systematic." In the Committee stage of this Bill the Minister frequently used the word "regular" or the phrase "bona-fide" in relation to scheduled services, but he did not at all use the word "systematic." I should submit that the word "systematic" has quite a different meaning from the word "regular." The phrase "bona-fide" means "genuine," or whatever the proper definition really is, so that does not enlighten us any further.
§ As far as I can make out, "systematic" means according to a system, and if one flew aeroplanes every day on which the sun could be seen that would be according to a system. I do not consider the word "systematic" is very enlightening upon this matter. The words "scheduled journeys" are ill-defined. It is not purely to be pedantic that I am moving this Amendment, but because I think that to start these Corporations without a clear idea of what "scheduled journeys" really are, bodes extremely ill for the future, both for the Corporations and for all those connected with them. The second reason why I am moving this Amendment is that I do not think it is fair to the public that it should not be made clear to them exactly what is meant by a scheduled journey which is run for their benefit. I beg to move.
Page 14, line 22, after ("a") insert ("regular and").—(Lord Fairfax of Cameron.)
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I have gone into this matter very carefully. The word "regular" would itself need to be defined for the purposes of the clause. One dictionary defines "regular" as meaning "recurring uniformly or calculably in time or manner, habitual, constant, not capricious or casual, orderly." The same dictionary defines "systematic" as meaning "methodical, according to a plan, not casual or sporadic, not unintentional." It might be argued that "regular 972 "meant" occurring at the same time every day," or "repeated at intervals of the same length of time," and that a service running six days a week or at a slightly different time each day was not a regular service. The difficulty of applying the word "regular" in connexion with scheduled services I regard as greater than that which would arise from the use of the word "systematic" in connexion with the definition of scheduled services. To add "regular" to "systematic" would increase the difficulty of deciding what is a "scheduled journey." Having delivered that lecture on the use of words, I hope the noble Lord will feel inclined to withdraw his Amendment.
LORD FAIRFAX OF CAMERON
I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation, and I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.2 p.m.
LORD WINSTER moved, in subsection (3), after paragraph (b), to insert:
(c) in accordance with arrangements for the time being approved by the Minister as being in the public interest, to carry a party of passengers and their baggage (if any) upon a series of three or more journeys organized as a tour for the common enjoyment of those passengers.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in the discussion on Tuesday, on the Amendments proposed by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, with the object of allowing private operators to undertake genuine tours, I undertook to consider the proposals most sympathetically and weigh fully the different arguments advanced in the course of the discussion. I have done this and have taken competent advice. As a result I am fortified in my opinion that the Amendment then proposed by the noble Viscount, even when prefaced by the qualification that it would be subject to any international agreement for the time being in force, would still not remove the international difficulties and implications to which I referred in the course of my remarks on Tuesday. I am quite clear, as I said on that occasion, that the original Amendment is open to exploitation by astute persons in such a way as to enable scheduled services to be operated under the guise of chartered services. Such a development would certainly give rise to practical difficulties in relation to our bilateral agreements. The
Amendment proposed by the noble Viscount would not overcome these difficulties, and in any event, the resultant clause would leave the private operators to be judges of the possibility of conflict with international agreements.
§ In case it be thought that I am exaggerating these difficulties, I assure your Lordships that I am not speaking in terms of abstract theory. Already there have been manifestations of the practical difficulties which may arise in the operation of our bilateral agreements with other countries, in defining the respective spheres of the regular operator and the charter operator. It is quite clear that these problems of -the distinction between scheduled services and charter services will have to be considered internationally in order to secure uniformity of practice. I am encouraged by the knowledge that other important countries share our view that anything in the nature of regular services should be regarded as outside the field of charter. I could not consider either a statutory exception or the growth of a practice which might prejudice the settlement of this problem in the best interests of that orderly development of air transport to which we all subscribe, and which it is certainly the intention of this Government to attain.
§ Finally, and not least important, I must ensure that the policy of the Government of reserving all scheduled operations to the statutory Corporations is not open to legal evasion. I have reached the conclusion, therefore, that if it is to be at all possible to provide for private operators to share with the Corporations in catering for the genuine tour which does not take on the character of scheduled operations, I must reserve to the Minister the right to decide whether the individual circumstances are such as to conflict with the requirements of international agreements and with the policy of the Government, and also the right to ensure that the possibility of arriving at an international agreement to achieve uniformity on sound lines in the practice of charter is not endangered. I have to these ends prepared the Amendment I am now about to move, but before doing so, I must make it plain that any authorizations which may be given to private operators to engage in chartered tours will be of a provisional character, and will be subject to revision should they become opposed to Government policy, for example, by reason of 974 a subsequent international agreement on this question which necessitates a curtailment of the activities of these operators. Moreover, it must also be clearly understood that no claims for compensation to operators who may give up their business on account of the restrictions imposed by such policy considerations will be entertained. I must make those reservations, but having made them, I have endeavoured in this Amendment to meet the case put forward by the noble Viscount. I beg to move.
Page 14, line 31, at insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Win ster.)
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I am very much obliged, as I am sure we all are, to the noble Lord for having gone into this so fully, and having gone so far to meet us. The whole object of this is to deal with the genuine round tour. I do not in the least want—nor, I am sure, do any of my noble friends who support me in this—to bring something in by a side wind. What we mean, and what the Minister means by a "round tour"—and I think he has defined it very skilfully with the assistance of the Parliamentary draftsman—isto carry a party of passengers and their baggage (if any) upon a series of three or more journeys organized as a tour for the common enjoyment of those passengers.That is exactly what we meant. The Workers' Travel Association organize these round tours for the benefit of the people who embark upon them, and they go as a party and come back as a party. That is exactly what we mean to cover. That would be permissible, and there will be a clear field and no favour as between the Corporations and the individual charterers. If the Minister's Corporation can offer better terms and make a more attractive bid to carry these travellers around, well all right—I am all for a bit of competition in this—but if, on the other hand, the private individual is able to do better than the noble Lord, and can offer better terms, then he will get the contract.
As I understand it, the Minister has made it quite clear that no favour will be given to one or the other. It is a fair field and no favour for these genuine undertakings. Then, he says, if an international agreement is entered into anybody who engages in this business must be bound by that. I quite agree; indeed, I 975 said so last time. Obviously, if the Government enter into international agreements—and we must have international agreements in these matters—it is right that every effort should be made to draw up wise agreements. Let us try to get agreements that are reasonably in the interests of this country. The alternative to international agreements is chaos. You can have dog fights everywhere if you wish or you can have a measure of international agreement. Everybody must be bound by such an agreement—it is a treaty into which His Majesty's Government enter, it binds us all and effect has to be given to it either by legislation or by regulation. That I think we should all accept.
The Minister says he must have the words in the proposed paragraph (c),in accordance with arrangements for the time being approved by the Minister as being in the public interest.…I agree that he may have to lay down, by general regulations or by rules, the working rules which will carry out international arrangements which are agreed upon. While an international arrangement is under negotiation we must not do anything which would prejudice or prejudge it, and some limitations may have to be laid down to that effect. But I do not think that any difficulty on that score is at all likely to arise. The two essentials about this are that the genuine round tour is now included, and it is open to everybody, Corporation or private individual, to run it. If any regulations have to be enforced, then they are fair to both sides. They apply to everybody who engages in a charter enterprise, whether Corporations or people outside. That being the position, I think that the Minister has made a very genuine attempt and indeed a very successful attempt to meet us on this matter. The provision which he offers us here is, I think, fair and reasonable. My noble friends and I readily accept it.
§ 4.15 p.m.
My Lords, this is a very important Amendment and I congratulate my noble friend Lord Winster on having been successful in placating the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, on this subject. In my view, the wording of the Amendment which we are now discussing is going to be a matter of great importance in the future. I only saw the Amendment for the first time 976 this morning, and I know that my noble friend the Minister will not take it amiss if I suggest that possibly the wording of it may lead in the future to some misunderstandings. This traffic may well grow very much greater, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, suggests. It may develop into a regular seasonal business of great benefit to the community at large, and we do not want to have disputes or law suits or anything of that kind arising out of it. Nor do we want the new advisory council to be too much worried. We remember those happy days when people could travel with almost complete freedom; and Mr. Bevin says he looks forward to the day when he can go to Victoria and take a ticket to any place he likes without a lot of bother about visas and passports. I entirely agree with his feeling in the matter. But I imagine that in the future the travel agencies—Cook's, the Workers' Travel Association and others organizing tours—will find it generally expedient to book air passages through the Corporations. After all, the Corporations are common carriers. The idea of travel agencies owning fleets of aeroplanes is, I think, rather far-fetched.
On the other hand the existence of charter companies, with large fleets of passenger-carrying aeroplanes of considerable size, chartering machines to the tourist agencies is also, I think, a little far-fetched. I imagine that what will happen is that the travel agencies will go to the Corporations and say: "We want to organize tours, what facilities can you give us?" That is what has happened in the past when Continental tours were arranged. Cooks do not themselves own railways or steamers; they use the services provided by the common carriers. B.O.A.C, are common carriers, and the new Corporations which are being set up will be common carriers also. The travel agencies, I imagine, will go to them when they want to organize tours involving travel by air. They will also go, presumably, to the foreign lines, Air Suisse, K.L.M, and the rest. All this makes the wording of the Amendment a matter of extreme importance. The first suggestion I make to my noble friend is that the words "if any," in brackets after 977 "baggage" are redundant. Any words that are redundant had far better not be included in an Act of Parliament, because they might give an opportunity for legal gentlemen to get busy in the future.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN
You would not be able to take a party on a tour of any length unless they took baggage with them. On the other hand it might be that the passengers would be people who were just going out for a day and so would not need any baggage with them.
I have already got a rise out of one of the legal luminaries in this House. I still say that it does not make any difference if the passengers have any luggage or baggage. I suggest that the words "if any" may complicate the whole thing. I only put forward the suggestion which I have made for the consideration of my noble friend. Further, I do not like the phrase following the word "tour" and standing as a sort of definition of it—that is the phrase "for the common enjoyment of those passengers." Why not simply say "a pleasure tour"? Does that meet the views of my noble friend Viscount Swinton? He talks about a "round tour ", but that I consider to be merely colloquialism or slang.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I should have thought that "common enjoyment" was quite a good phrase to use here. I agree that this is a relative matter. Your enjoyment of the tour may depend on those who go with you. If we substituted the word "pleasure" I think that that might be somewhat doubtful. The noble Lord might not find it so "pleasurable" to travel with me as with somebody else. If you use the words "common enjoyment" that may cover "enjoyment" of both good health and ill health, for you may "enjoy" either on an air tour.
I am sure that I shall always have both pleasure and enjoyment in travelling with the noble Viscount anywhere by any vehicle. A case that occurs to me in connexion with this matter is that of the solitary passenger. You could go in the old days to one of the agencies and take tickets, if you wished, for a round tour to be made by yourself alone. The kind of tour envisaged here is said to be "for the common enjoyment of those passengers". 978 When I read this Amendment I did not like it and I have been trying to improve it. But if my noble friend the Minister says that he is satisfied, then so am I—otherwise I would ask for these alterations to be considered.
§ Clause 36:
§ Air Transport Advisory Council.
§ 36.—(1) His Majesty may by Order in Council provide for the constitution of an Air Transport Advisory Council consisting of a chairman, who shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor and who shall be a barrister, advocate or solicitor of not less than seven years standing, and such number of members appointed by the Minister (not being less than two nor more than four) as may be determined in accordance with the Order.
§ Of the members of the Council appointed by the Minister, at least one shall be a person of experience in the operation of air transport services, and at least one shall be a person of experience in the operation of other transport services.
§ (2) It shall be the duty of the Air Transport Advisory Council to consider any representation from any person with respect to the adequacy of the facilities provided by any of the three Corporations, or with respect to the charges for any such facilities:
§ Provided that the Council shall not be required by this subsection to consider any such representation if, in their opinion, it is frivolous or vexatious or if, in their opinion, the matters to which the representation relates have been already sufficiently considered by the Council, or if, in their opinion, it is inexpedient that they should consider the representation on the ground that the matters to which it relates are for the time being regulated by any international agreement to which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is a party.
§ (4) When the Council have considered any such representation or question as aforesaid, they shall report to the Minister upon their conclusions, and shall make such recommendations to the Minister in connexion with those conclusions as they think expedient.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, As the noble Lord, the Minister has an Amendment in the same sense as the first Amendment standing on the Paper in my name it might be convenient to your Lordships if he moves his Amendment. All the Amendments which are put down to this clause really link up and deal with the same thing. I suggest that if the Minister moves his Amendment we can then have a general discussion and in that way we shall probably more rapidly dispose of all the Amendments.
LORD WINSTER moved, in subsection (3), at the end to insert:
No member of any of the three Corporations, and no person employed by any of the three Corporations, shall be qualified to be a member of the Council.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I put down this Amendment in order to meet the point raised by the noble Viscount in Committee on Tuesday, that as the facilities provided and the fares charged by one of the Corporations would usually be the subject of complaints before the Air Transport Advisory Council it would be wrong for any member or employee of a Corporation to be appointed a member of the Council. I quite agree. I beg to move.
Pare 27, line 33, at end insert the said new words.—[Lord Winster.]
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
had given notice of an Amendment in subsection (4), to leave out "such representation or question as aforesaid" and to insertrepresentation under subsection (2) of this section they shall publish their conclusions and recommendations and when the Council have considered any question referred to them by the Minister under the last preceding subsectionThe noble Viscount had also given notice that he would move, after subsection (5), to insert as a new subsection:( ) The powers of the Council under subsection (2) of this section shall include the power to consider any representation that air transport facilities upon scheduled journeys should be provided on any route where such facilities are not provided by any of the three Corporations or by an Associate of any of the three Corporations and if the Council consider that such facilities should be provided they shall recommend the nature of the facilities which they consider should be provided and the conditions upon and the time within which such facilities should be provided and if the appropriate Corporation is unwilling to provide such facilities within the time aforesaid and upon the conditions aforesaid the Council shall be entitled to entertain applications by other persons to provide such facilities and, where they are satisfied that any applicant is financially and technically able to provide the same within the time aforesaid and upon the conditions aforesaid, to grant a licence to such applicant to provide the said facilities within the said time and upon the said conditions.980Provided that if at any time after the grant of a licence under this subsection any of the three Corporations shall be willing to provide the facilities aforesaid upon the conditions aforesaid and at a time not later than the time specified as aforesaid and shall with the Minister's approval so inform the Council they shall be entitled so to provide the said facilities and as from the date of the provision by them of the said facilities the person to whom such licence has been granted shall cease to provide the said facilities and the Corporation shall pay to such person compensation, such compensation to be assessed on the basis of a transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller of the said facilities, the amount to be determined, in default of agreement between the parties, by arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Arbitration Acts, 1889 to 1934.The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I had thought that the Minister would speak generally on the Amendment which he has just moved. We have come a long way into common agreement upon this clause. Whether we like the Bill or not, we have accepted the principle that so long as this Government lasts the Corporations are to run the regular services, and nobody else will come in. The corollary of that is that if there is to be a monopoly, there must be every opportunity for the public to have good service. For that reason we proposed—and the Minister has fully met us on this point—that there should be an appeal tribunal or council to which the public can go with any reasonable complaint (it must of course have power to reject frivolous complaints) made either by local councils or by individual members of the travelling public that the facilities are inadequate or that the fares are too high. Obviously, this tribunal ought to be a judicial, authoritative and experienced tribunal. The Minister has agreed that there shall be such a tribunal—it is termed a "council"—and that the chairman shall be a distinguished lawyer. That is very important, if I may say so, because lawyers are trained to assess evidence and they make good chairmen, provided, in a matter of this kind, that they have brigaded with them people with technical expert knowledge. The Minister has provided that with the chairman there shall be not less than two or more than four laymen, one with knowledge of air transport and one with knowledge of general transport. That gives us as practical a body as we could have.
The noble Lord the Minister has also provided that there should be assessors 981 if desired. In his proposal he has included—and this again is very important—that Corporations concerned in the appeal shall register with the council particulars of the services they give, the facilities they provide and the fares they charge, so that the council will always be seised of the fares and facilities. The council will then hear the appeal, and if they are dealing with foreign matters they must, of course, apply any international agreement which is in force. That, in itself, is a very good reason for having a lawyer as chairman.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am speaking on the Amendments which I have proposed to Clause 36. I think it is for the convenience of the House that we should deal with this matter as a whole, because we cannot understand it unless we see the clause as a whole. Unless it is desirable to hear a special case in private, I presume that the council will hear it in public. There may be some reason for hearing some particular evidence in private: for example, if by hearing it in public information would be given to competitors. The council will then report. Not only complaints by the public but cases raised by the Minister may be considered by the council, whose recommendations will be made after the appeal has been heard. I had proposed that where the Minister had referred the case, the Council should report to the Minister, and that where the public brought the case the council should report to the Minister and publish their findings.
The Minister has said, and I think not without reason, that the report should go to him in the first instance. It is his Corporation which is charged. I do not think that there is anything in that because obviously the report will be published as soon as possible. I am quite sure that if a great municipality is making a complaint about the services, everybody will know all about it. Probably before the Minister has had time to consider the report he will be repeatedly asked if he has had it, and what he is going to do about it. It will be to the common interests of everybody to get the decision out as soon as possible. I should think that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the Corporation will carry out 982 what this judicial tribunal directs. Therefore, I am quite prepared to accept the proposal up to that point.
There remains only the case where there is no service at all in operation. Obviously, there ought to be an opportunity for the public to go and say to this council, "We have no service at all and we ought to have one." The council should report whether they think that complaint is reasonable, whether the service ought to be run and under what conditions and within what time it ought to be run. That is all common ground between us. In the first instance, at any rate, I admit that we have to accept the broad structure of this Bill. First refusal of such a service would have to go to a Government Corporation—that is inherent in the structure of the Bill, and I accept that. I was only seeking to deal with what would be a very exceptional case, where a Corporation said, "We will not run this service, although the council says we ought to." In such a case, the Amendment which I have proposed means that if the Corporation does refuse to run the service and somebody else is prepared to run it on the same terms and within the time limit which the Council has laid down as reasonable, he should have the right to do so. There is an ultimate option to the Minister's Corporation to buy them up.
I think that case is very exceptional. I must admit, moreover, that I do not believe that it would really be possible to sustain this monopoly, unless the monopoly were ready to give the service which the tribunal said it ought to give. I do not believe that, even if the Corporation wanted to be unreasonable, they could be, because people would say, "Well, the tribunal says there ought to be a service; if you do not provide it, somebody else has to provide it." I believe the net result would be that the Minister would have to say to the Corporation, "You must provide the service, or, if you do not, somebody else must do so, and you have to let somebody else run the service for you." Really there is so little between us, and the Minister has gone such a long way to meet us on this matter, that I suggest to your Lordships that I would be doing the reasonable thing if I did not move my Amendments. I think we should accept the clause as amended very greatly by the Minister in Committee 983 and now still further amended by him on Report, and accordingly I do not move any of my Amendments.
I am sorry I interrupted the noble Viscount but I really did not know what his intentions were, or on which Amendment he was speaking. He has launched on a general discussion. I am very glad indeed that he is not pressing this Amendment to give the council the right to grant licences, and so on. If I may say so, I think he is wise in not pressing that. I understand that he is not moving any of his Amendments but is giving a general blessing to Clause 36 as now amended by the alteration made by my noble friend.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am not moving any Amendments to this clause. I am quite content with the Amendment that the Minister has already moved and the Amendment which he is going to move on page 28, line 29.
I am much obliged to the noble Viscount. In that case, may I take the opportunity of asking my noble friend if he has been able to look further into my suggestion, as he said he would do—I have not put it on the Paper; I was waiting to hear from him—to allow this air advisory council—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me if I suggest that we are getting hopelessly out of order. I think I had better formally put the question with regard to Viscount Swinton's Amendment. Unless I do that, there is nothing at present before the House at all.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I take it if I move, and then ask leave to withdraw, I shall put myself in order?
Page 28, line 10, leave out from ("any") to ("they") in line 11, and insert ("representation under subsection (2) of this section
they shall publish their conclusions and recommendations and when the Council have considered any question referred to them by the Minister under the last preceding subsection ").—(Viscount Swinton.)
I am much obliged. I hate being out of order. It is sometimes very difficult in this House not to be. I was going to ask my noble friend if he has been good enough to look into the question of this air advisory council being able to inquire into matters of efficiency. As I indicated to him, I do not like his new Clause 36. Perhaps for the reasons that the noble Viscount opposite likes it, I do not like it. But there it is. I should like to hear from him whether he does not think it will be an improvement to carry out my suggestion of allowing the general public to put forward complaints with regard to the efficiency of the Corporation and their operations, apart from adequacy of service—which I still maintain is a different subject altogether—or the rates and charges to be levied for the fares. This is an important matter, and I should be grateful if my noble friend would inform me whether he has had time to look into the question.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
My Lords, may I mention a point of drafting, for consideration of the noble Lord in charge of the Bill? I do not very much like the words "no member of any of the three Corporations" in Lord Winster's Amendment, without knowing quite how far that goes. The Corporation—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I point out to the noble and learned Viscount that we have passed that Amendment. We are not discussing it.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I can still, I think, by permission of the House, raise this point—a question of drafting—which can be put right.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
We have passed the Amendment which the noble and learned Viscount is now discussing. The House has passed it.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
The House can do what it pleases. If I may remind the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, he has no more authority than any other member of this House with regard to points of order. That is a matter for all of us.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DOMINION AFFAIRS (VISCOUNT ADDISON)
May I inform the noble and 985 learned Viscount that if any further alterations have to be made, it could only now be done on Third Reading, as we have passed the Amendment. I hope the noble and learned Viscount will remember that, according to our Rules of Order, we should be discussing the Amendment which is now before the House.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I am willing to accede to that, but I would observe that in the temporary absence of the Lord Chancellor we had agreed generally to discuss all these Amendments at the same time. Therefore I did not raise the question, because I understood it had not yet been finally determined whether the Amendment of Lord Winster should be passed without any subsequent addition, such as might arise from Viscount Swinton's Amendment. However, the matter is a small one. Having regard to what the noble Viscount the Leader of the House says, I will not pursue it further.
§ LORD WINSTER
Whether in order or out of order, I have taken note of the point raised by the noble and learned Viscount. With regard to the remarks made by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, I am sure that he will not mind if I reply rather briefly.
§ LORD WINSTER
As regards the publication, I am very glad indeed that the noble Viscount feels as he now does. I would have found it extremely difficult to accept that Amendment. It would have landed the Minister in considerable embarrassment and difficulty, and I rather doubt if Parliament itself would have been agreeable to such procedure. I would point out, of course, that if I choose to do so, where a case is of particular importance, I can make some publication forthwith about it; I can publish at once. I think I should indicate that.
§ LORD WINSTER
As regards the second point about the council having power to licence a private operator if the Corporation showed any reluctance to provide a service, I think the short point is that if I am convinced that the report is right and the service ought to be provided, then I can order the Corporation to 986 provide that service. How they provide it is very largely their affair; it is an affair of management. If they cannot provide it themselves, they must call in somebody who can provide it. The onus or responsibility lies upon the Corporation to provide the service, and I entirely agree that that should be so. The public must not be deprived of services to which it is entitled, and which the tribunal says it should have. The course to be taken is that I shall instruct the Corporation to provide that service, and they must find ways and means of carrying out that instruction. I hope that deals satisfactorily and fully with the two points raised by the noble Viscount.
With regard to the point raised by my noble friend, Lord Strabolgi, about efficiency, I would point out to him, if I may, that subsection (3) of the existing Clause 36 provides that the Minister may refer questions to the council with a view to the improvement of air transport services. That includes questions of efficiency. It will be my whole wish to see that good air services are provided. I am sure that any question of there being deficiencies in these air services will be brought to my notice, and then. I have authority to refer such a question as that to the council. As I say, in my opinion the improvement of air transport services does cover questions of efficiency.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD WINSTER moved, in subsection (6), at the end to insert:
The procedure of the Council shall be such as to secure that no member of the Council shall sit to consider any representation or question which it is the duty of the Council to consider, if, in respect of the matters to which the representation or question relates, he has any special interest such as may tend to interfere with his impartial consideration of the representation or question.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is designed to preserve the impartiality of the council when it is considering any particular question of representation. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said in Committee that nobody should be a judge in his own cause. Clause 36 makes suitable provision for insuring, so far as practical, that a member of the council shall not sit to consider any matter in which that member has a special interest such as might tend
to interfere with his impartiality. I beg to move.
Page 28, line 29, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Winster.)
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
My Lords, I only wish on this Amendment, in a case where I am in order, to suggest that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill should clear up something which is not absolutely clear in reference to persons who are described as "members of the Corporation.'' I do not know what is meant by "members of the Corporation." I know that the Corporation can under a clause in the Bill have a number of stockholders. However, those people are not necessarily members, and if the stock is only stock for raising money, in my opinion they would not be members. I think it would be worth while considering whether the words "members or stockholders" should not be inserted.
§ LORD WINSTER
I am obliged to the noble Viscount. I quite frankly confess that his remarks have taken me a little out of my depth, but I will certainly look into the point he has raised.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for putting down this Amendment. If a person had a special interest which might tend to interfere with his impartial consideration, if he were a large stockholder in the Corporation (perhaps the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, could answer this) would not that in fact be an interest which he would have to declare? From time to time in the Law Courts a learned Judge hearing a railway case who has some shares, say, in the London and North Eastern Railway Company, says he ought to declare that he has shares in the London and North Eastern Railway Company, because he might prejudice the defendant or the plaintiff. I should have thought that a stockholder in a Corporation would come within that.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think that might well be so, but this is one of those questions of which I would like notice.
§ Clause 51 [Interpretation]:
§ LORD WINSTER moved to insert "'scheduled journey' has the meaning 988 assigned to it by Section twenty-three of this Act." The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a definition Amendment. I beg to move.
Page 38, line 13, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Winster.)
§ Clause 53 [Application to Northern Ireland]:
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, apparently my final words on this stage in the process of our consideration of this Bill must be to apologize to your Lordships for the third time for my grammar. I beg to move.
Page 42, line 35, leave out ("shall be") and insert ("were").—(Lord Winster.)
§ Clause 55:
§ Application to Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
§ 55.—(1) His Majesty may by Order in Council direct—
- (a) that any of the provisions of this Act, except subsection (3) of Section thirty-nine, thereof;
- (b) that any regulations made under Section one hundred and forty-three of the Public Health Act, 1936, as that section has effect by virtue of this Act in relation to aerodromes for the time being vested in or under the control of the Minister of Civil Aviation, and in relation to persons and aircraft arriving at or departing from such aerodromes;
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "to any of the Channel Islands or." The noble Earl said: My Lords, I moved this Amendment on the Committee stage of the Bill because I felt that there appeared to be a breach of normal procedure and practice in regard to the independence of the Channel Islands. I am sure your Lordships would not wish that to be the case. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack promised to look at the constitutional position between the Committee stage and the Report stage and to tell us exactly what it is. Your Lordships will see that this clause proposes to apply the Bill, with certain exceptions, to the Channel Islands by Order in Council. 989 We feel—and indeed I think the majority of the Channel Islanders themselves feel—that a matter of such importance should not be applied by Order in Council without the full assent of the States of Jersey in Session after the matter has been fully debated. As I said last Tuesday, the object of this clause is to enable the Government to take over the Channel Islands Airways. The Channel Islands Airways is a Channel Islands company registered in Jersey and fully entitled to the protection of the Jersey laws. We feel that this matter should have been dealt with under what was originally Clause 23 (4) of the Bill, which refers to transport undertakings which have their main place of business outside the country. I want to submit to your Lordships that this clause should not be applied without the full assent of the States.
§ There have been precedents, I am advised, where Orders in Council were applied to the Channel Islands some 150 or so years ago which did not meet with the assent of the States, and in deference to the constitutional independence of the Channel Islands those Orders in Council were revoked. I am sure your Lordships would wish to safeguard in every way the independent rights of the Islands and would not wish that this clause should stand part of the Bill by any sort of jiggery-pokery methods. The noble Lord, the Minister of Civil Aviation, has told us that the consent of the Island authorities was obtained. I understand that the Bailiff of Jersey and certain members of the States met the Home Secretary and the Lord Privy Seal some time ago when they went over to the Channel Islands, and consent was obtained to the application of this Bill to the Channel Islands. The noble Lord told us on the Second Reading of this Bill that that consent was given very reluctantly. The implication is that it might have formed part of a general bargain. I am quite sure your Lordships would feel it right that a matter of this importance should receive the full assent of the States in Session. There is a great deal of feeling about this matter in the Channel Islands, and I hope we shall receive assurances this afternoon (after the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has given his views on the constitutional issue) that the Order in Council will not be applied to the Channel Islands unless 990 and until the full assent of the States in Session has been obtained. I beg to move.
Page 45, line 30, leave out ("to any of the Channel Islands or").—(The Earl of Dudley.)
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it might be convenient if I at once tell your Lordships what I have discovered. Let me say that I am very grateful to the noble Earl for allowing me a little time to look into this matter. I will deal first with the constitutional position and then I will deal with complete precision with the facts. It is all on record, and I have the minutes of the various meetings here. As to the constitutional position, may I ask your Lordships to get this point quite clear in your minds? When you are talking about Orders in Council, will you distinguish between Orders in Council which are the result of or which are related to some Act of Parliament passed here, and Orders in Council which simply emanate from the use of the Royal Prerogative? They are two totally different things, and if we do not keep them separate we shall become confused.
So far as Acts of Parliament are concerned, it is, of course, beyond any question whatever that this Parliament has the right to legislate for the Channel Islands, and there are many illustrations of that having been done. In recent years it has very frequently been done in this way. You find a section in an Act of Parliament saying that the provisions of the Act—generally with the phrase "with necessary emendations"—shall be applied to the Channel Islands. That is very convenient for us here because frequently adaptations are necessary and by using that phrase a certain flexibility is obtained. The Channel Islanders like it too; they prefer that rather than that we should simply make the Act of Parliament applicable to them. Of course, in that sort of Order in Council which is directly authorized by an Act of Parliament, if the Order in Council is made it has just as much authority as the Act of Parliament itself. There is no question whatever but that we can do that.
The only point of constitutional doubt and difficulty, subject to one other thing which I will say in a moment, is this. Where the Crown by virtue of the 991 Royal Prerogative is promulgating an Order in Council, that Order in Council does not technically become operative law until it is registered, and the question is whether the Islanders are bound to register such an Order in Council—that is an Order in Council under the Royal Prerogative—if they allege that it interferes with and cuts across their own privileges and rights. That is a matter which a long time ago was deliberately left open by the courts, and although I have views on it there is, I think, no reason why we should discuss it. We are not here dealing with that sort of Order in Council at all: this is an Order in Council under an Act of Parliament and we have just as much right to pass it as we have the right to pass Acts of Parliament.
The other exception is this. Although there is no constitutional doctrine involved, we are anxious to do everything we can not to disturb these very gallant people and it is very unusual to legislate on purely local issues by our Acts of Parliament. As far as we possibly can we leave purely local issues to them, although when I look at the many Acts of Parliament which have been passed I see that they deal with such things as, for instance, the superannuation of school-teachers in the Channel Islands, which was, I should have thought, a local issue if ever there was one. That sort of matter we have dealt with. May I read from the Eleventh Volume of the Second Edition of Halsbury, known as the Hailsham Edition:In the case of the Channel Islands their proximity to the United Kingdom renders necessary the extension to them of a rather wider variety of Acts than is requisite in the case of the Colonies, though it is very unusual to legislate on purely local issues in this way.The last time that was done was the Alderney (Transfer of Property, etc.) Act, 1923. It goes on:The principal subjects of Imperial legislation having effect in the Channel Islands are customs and excise, army militia and air force, extradition, friendly, industrial and loan societies, savings banks, sea fisheries, telegraphs, backing of warrants, air navigation, copyright, merchant shipping, marriage facilities, merchandise marks, school teachers superannuation and carriage by air.Your Lordships will notice that air navigation and carriage by air are two actual illustrations. There is one fact 992 about air navigation which is rather interesting. The Act of 1920 in its original form applied to the "British Isles." As your Lordships probably know, the words "British Isles" include the Channel Islands—that is provided for by the Interpretation Act. The Act of 1920, therefore, originally applied directly to the Channel Islands, but in 1936, to meet their wishes, when we amended that Act we adopted the alternative method of having an Order in Council under the Act—not an Order in Council under the Royal Prerogative but an Order in Council under the provisions of the Act. That was what they desired. Constitutionally, therefore, in this matter of air, there is not the slightest doubt but that in legislating we are merely following the precedent of legislating about the air which has, since the first world war, already been done three times.
Now with regard to the position. I have here the actual minutes and for the sake of greater accuracy perhaps I may refer to them. There were four meetings. The first was held on February 26, 1946, when there was a special conference at the Home Office to discuss civil aviation. There were present four representatives of the Home Office, the Director-General of Civil Aviation, three representatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, five representatives from Jersey and six from Guernsey. If any noble Lord would like to know their names, I have them here. They included the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey, Sir Alexander Coutanche, Deputy Le Feuvre, Deputy Krichefski and Major Anthoine. At that meeting certain conclusions were come to which were in due course circulated. Perhaps I may read them:On the 26th February, 1946, a conference was held at the Home Office under the chairmanship of Sir Frank Newsam, at which representatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and from Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man attended.The Island representatives accepted the general principle that there should be one Corporation operating services to and from the Islands.It was further agreed that in the case of the Channel Islands, and also of the Isle of Man, the provisions of the Bill should be applied by the procedure of Order in Council, including such modifications or adaptations as appeared, after due consultation, to be proper and necessary. In the case of the Channel Islands it would be the intention that they should be left in possession of their own airports, on the understanding that if they were unable to provide all the services required to keep pace with developing needs, 993 His Majesty's Government would be asked to take over the airports by purchase or lease. The Order in Council would safeguard the rights of the Island Governments in the matter of compulsory acquisition of land.Note was taken of the wish expressed, particularly by the representatives of Jersey, that Clause 20 should be so modified that the principle of monopoly of scheduled air services would be extended to the Islands by Order in Council, and it was agreed to examine the possibility of adopting this modification.That was circulated and was returned by the Jersey people approved, subject to drafting amendments which do not affect this point.
The next meeting was held at Jersey—it was an Inter-Island Conference—on March 18, 1946. The Bailiff of Jersey and Sir Frank Newsam were present, but the record does not state who else attended. The record finishes in this way:The Bailiff of Jersey said that he was sure it was the wish of the Insular authorities that he should express their gratitude for the manner in which their representations on the constitutional issue, as well as on the subject of continental services, had been accepted by the Home authorities.The next Conference was held on May 27, 1946, in the Old Committee Room, Royal Court Building, Jersey.
§ There were eleven representatives from Guernsey and twelve from Jersey. I will take Jersey. The representatives were:
- Lieut.-General Sir Edward Grasett, Lieutenant-Governor.
- Sir Alexander Coutanche, Bailiff.
- Jurat E. A. Dorey.
- Jurat P. N. Gallichan.
- Jurat N. G. Hind.
- C. W. Duret Aubin, Esq., Attorney General.
- C. S. Harrison, Esq., Solicitor General.
- Brigadier R. M. H. Lewis, Government Secretary.
- Deputy E. Le Quesne.
- Deputy P. Le Feuvre.
- Deputy C. P. Rumfitt.
- Deputy W. H. Krichefski.
The Bailiff of Jersey presided. The Conference was then joined by Sir Harold Hartley and Mr. Burkett, of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. There is set out a report of rather a lengthy discussion on details about airports and the rest. The conclusion of the whole matter, as
amended after the drafting, was as follows:
The Minutes of the last Inter-Island Conference held in Jersey on 27th May 1946, having been circulated, were approved subject to the deletion of the last five lines on page 6 and the substitution therefor of the following:
These are their words:
The United Kingdom representatives explained that it was not the policy of His Majesty's Government to enter into separate agreements under the Civil Aviation Act with other parts of the British Islands. In the result it was inevitable that on the passing of the Act, it would be illegal for Channel Islands Airways to continue to run scheduled journeys to the United Kingdom. The Conference accordingly accepted it as inevitable that Channel Islands Airways would, on the passing of the Act, cease to continue as an independent body for the purpose of operating scheduled services. It was understood that discussions would be opened at once between British European Airways Corporation and Channel Islands Airways.
That is the last of these conferences. I think from that you will see that although it is quite true that these people would rather not have been interfered with at alt, yet, we having met them completely on the constitutional issues, and having agreed at their request that we would relate this Bill to them by the method of an Order in Council under the Bill to meet them as fir as we could, they were perfectly satisfied, and thanked us for doing that. They recognize that the policy of this Bill makes it inevitable that their Channel Island Airways ceases to exist.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I think we are very grateful indeed to the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, for his explanation. I do not want to detain the House, but there is one misgiving which exists in the minds of some of us, and I am afraid that the legal exposition does not quite remove it from our minds. This Government is a democratic Government and does not wish to do anything to which the peoples of any particular country do not accede. I understand, from all the information I can obtain, that public opinion is very disturbed indeed in the Channel Islands, and that if the Order in Council is not registered first by the Bailiff and two Jurats, it then goes to the Bailiff and seven Jurats. If, on the other hand, on neither of those two occasions do the Bailiff and Jurats accept the 995 Order, then it goes for discussion to the full States.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Lord is getting confused between the two different sorts of Orders in Council. That applies to the Orders in Council made under the Royal Prerogative and not to the Order in Council under the Statute. Its legal efficacy is not affected at all.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
Suppose public opinion did not agree to what is being done. There is absolutely no safeguard in that case, except the hope that in due course the public will either agree with their representatives, or if they do not, will change them.
My Lords, I did not intend to speak in this debate, but there is one thing the noble and learned Lord has said which does disturb me profoundly. So far as I can make out, the Channel Islands do not so much consent but are told, "We are not going to allow anybody to run scheduled services except ourselves. Therefore, you have either got to have our Corporation service or no service at all." That is what I understood to come from the noble and learned Lord. I do suggest that that is very harsh treatment to hand out to the Channel Islands.
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY
My Lords, I, too, am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord for the personal trouble he has taken in this case, and for the very clear exposition he has given us on constitutional law. I am bound to say that I found it very hard to follow where these Islanders were able to legislate themselves and where they were not. I should have thought it was purely a local matter whether one of their local companies should be taken over by the Government Corporation or not and I cannot see the object of having a Parliament if they are not allowed to say, "Yea" or "Nay" on a matter of this kind and of this importance. I would refer, if I may, to the opinion of eminent counsel, of which I sent a copy to the noble Lord. He said that ever body agrees that we have a perfect right in this country to pass legislation which shall be binding on the Channel Islands, but there has been a rule which has been established over a great many years under which the 996 Channel Islands are given a very large measure of independence. Learned counsel says this:On the basis of the existence of the right of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for the Channel Islands"—which I do not deny—we think that the right is limited by an unwritten rule which is founded by custom and practice and tacit understanding. That rule can hardly be precisely defined, but as we are of opinion that Parliament would commit a breach of the rules if it sought by its own Act to levy a tar on the Islands, so we are of opinion that it would commit a similar breach if, by its own Act, it sought to expropriate, in return for compensation, the property of a company like the Channel Islands Company, which was registered in the Channel Islands and carried on its business there.That is the opinion of one who is very well versed in the constitution of the Channel Islands. I admit it is only the recognition of a rule which has been in existence for a great many centuries, but I do submit, very humbly and with all my heart to your Lordships, that that rule ought to be observed by your Lordships in this instance. However, in view of what the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has said, I beg leave to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended (in pursuance of the Resolution of July 15),
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be read a third time. It has occupied a considerable amount of your Lordships' time, although I believe your Lordships will agree with me that, on a Bill of such importance, not one minute too many has been spent. I should be very ungrateful if I did not express my thanks to your Lordships for the care and thought which has been given to the consideration of this Bill, and to say that I feel that many improvements have been effected in it as a result of the thought given to it. Might I say, in particular, that I have noticed that some noble Lords who, I think I might say with great respect, are in the early stages of their political careers, have given me the benefit of their advice and assistance in considering this Bill. I really have welcomed their interest in this matter of civil aviation, and I hope their interest will continue after this Bill has reached the Statute Book. If ever I can give them 997 any information about the progress of affairs in civil aviation, I hope very much that they will come and see me at my Ministry. I will welcome them there and give them any information I can on any point on which they may desire information.
It has been a matter of great personal regret to me that out of all the matters on which there have been differences of opinion we have failed to reach agreement on one. I am sure that my noble friend the Earl of Selkirk will share with me the feeling that we have really tried our best to meet each other about this and that, although we were unable to reach complete final agreement, in the process of trying to do so we have probably cleared away misunderstandings. At any rate, we now understand each other's points of view very clearly, and that, I think, will probably bear good fruit in the future. I am confident that the noble Earl will agree that it is clear from the acceptance of Amendments on the Government side that there has been on the part of the Government a sincere desire to meet noble Lords opposite on matters of disagreement. If we have failed in one instance it was not for lack of a really sincere wish to reach agreement.
When this Bill reaches the Statute Book it will, of course, be of great assistance to my Ministry, to the three Corporations, and to myself in the task which lies ahead of us. As the noble Viscount opposite well knows—he will I am sure agree with me on this—civil aviation is a most engrossing subject. One does become completely absorbed in it. I know that all my energies are being devoted to it at the present time. When this Bill has become law we shall be able to go forward with the task of developing British air services to that standard which I know all your Lordships wish to see them achieve. The task will not be an easy one. There are many difficulties to be encountered. But we shall overcome them and I am quite certain that in British civil aviation we shall attain to that standard which all of us here desire to see reached.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I should like to thank the Minister for the tribute which he has paid to the manner in which this Bill has been debated. We have debated some things hotly and some things keenly. But everything has been discussed sincerely and I entirely agree that we now have a better Bill than we 998 had originally. I know that speak for the whole House when I say that we could not have had the improvements which we have made in the Bill if we had not approached it—as I think we so often approach these matters—in a spirit of accommodation and with sincere determination to do our best. I say, frankly, that I think it is a bad Bill—nothing will alter my view to that effect. But I think it is much less a bad Bill now than it was when it arrived in your Lordships' House and that is the result of the way in which we have all worked together. I would like to thank the noble Lord, the Minister, and also the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, for the very great trouble which has been taken not only in debate but in many meetings and many explorations designed to clear up matters of difficulty. There has been complete co-operation when we wanted to get down to the facts and the whole job has been done thoroughly and in a businesslike way. Whatever system is to go forward we must all wish it luck, for we do want British aviation to succeed.
§ On Question, Bill read 3ª, with the Amendments.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.