HL Deb 10 October 1946 vol 143 cc158-60

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Broughshane, who is not here, I beg to ask the question standing in his name on the Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether they have given consideration to the general demand from all sections of the public for an amendment of the law whereby the Crown and Ministers of the Crown cannot be sued in tort, the urgency of the matter having been greatly increased in view of the Government's policy for the nationalization of industry and the consequent denial to persons so employed of the rights and remedies possessed by workers in private employment.]


My Lords, I rather wish that the question had gone by default, and for this reason: I have asked for the answer which I ought to have, and so far I have not been furnished with that answer. In the circumstances, I must, as it were, give it on my own—E. & O.E., as they say, in commercial letters. Quite seriously, however, I am very anxious indeed to get a Bill through which puts the Crown in the same position as an ordinary employer, subject to be sued both in contract and in tort. Obviously, it is a difficult matter, one which will require consideration and not a little Parliamentary time. Therefore, the answer which I give—if I get into trouble about this, I shall ask all your Lordships to give me protection—is that I am very anxious to introduce such a Bill, but I am doubtful whether I shall get consent, owing to the exigencies of Parliamentary time, to do so in the near future. I shall press my colleagues to give me what opportunity they can, and I very much hope—before many years have passed!—to be able to introduce and carry such a Bill.


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, whether there is any chance that this Bill might take precedence over new schemes of nationalization?


With the immensely important Bills which we have coming forward, I am a little doubtful whether there is any possibility of getting the Bill through in the immediate future, but, if I may use the vernacular, I hope that this Bill may have a chance amongst what are commonly called the "also rans."