HL Deb 22 July 1948 vol 157 cc1192-4

2.58 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read 3a.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Viscount Addison.)


My Lords, there is one point which might be mentioned. On the Report stage of this Bill on July 20, while thanking the Government for agreeing to the Amendment which my noble friend Lord Moyne had proposed and which I had taken some part in preparing, I indicated that a Government Amendment giving effect to our point made what I thought was a curious and regrettable change. The words, "with a view to," were no longer used and instead of them were inserted the (to me) rather strange words "by way of." I do not know whether anybody contends that the second phrase is clearer than the first. I find it very difficult to think so. "With a view to" exactly corresponds to the wording in other parts of the Bill, where it talks about "for the purpose of." I had rather supposed, because of the observations of the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, when he said that he would look into the matter between then and the Third Reading, that if he saw no objection to the words "with a view to" he might put down an Amendment.

I make no complaint. I know that the noble Viscount and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor were fully occupied with more important matters in the interval. But as I understand that the words "with a view to" are accepted by the Government as perfectly appropriate words, I most respectfully suggest we might have from the noble Viscount, or from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, an assurance that when this, which is a new Amendment, goes back to another place, he will consider whether it is not better to use the phrase "with a view to." Perhaps I may put it another way. I would ask whether the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack would make such a suggestion, not "with a view to" getting the change made but "by way of" getting the change made. Whichever of those two expressions is clearer, I leave anybody to judge. I know I am dealing only with a drafting point. We are most grateful to the draftsmen. They save us from innumerable pitfalls. But, at the same time, they are merely servants of the House, and we do wish, of course, to put in the proper words.

I sometimes think there is a tendency to say about these small matters: "Oh, this is a drafting point," as though it were a wholly mysterious esoteric secret, which only the members of the College of Augurs could be expected to understand. I am put in mind of an immortal observation of Mr. Pecksniff, who was, of course, a famous architect. Your Lordships may recollect that Mr. Pecksniff asked Martin Chuzzlewit to make a design for some building for him, and young Chuzzlewit did so. Mr. Pecksniff took the design, which appeared to be an excellent one, but he made a slight change in one corner; I think he changed the position of a small window. Then he said: For it really is, my dear Martin, the finishing touches alone that great experience and long study in these matters provide. I suggest that my proposal is one which is intelligible to anybody who cares for good English and for the clear expression of an idea. Unless there be—it is always possible—some secret reason why we should adopt this phrase of "by way of" (it is a very odd one) I hope that those responsible for the Bill will be good enough to urge that this small change should be made in another place.


My Lords, in the first place, I would express my regret to the noble and learned Viscount that, although I took an early opportunity of consulting those concerned on the point, I had not got it to a determination, and omitted to put the Amendment on the Paper. I share the noble and learned Viscount's view—as I think I did from the start; I was a party to the original Amendment—that the words "with a view to" seem to be clearer than "by way of." I will certainly represent to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary what the noble and learned Viscount has said, and I will do what I can with a view to getting what I agree are better words inserted in the Bill in another place. Both the noble and learned Viscount and myself are well acquainted with the work of draftsmen, and we know that where we think we have done something very good they generally manage to alter a word or two. I cannot pretend to be an expert in that art, but it seems to me, as an ordinary person, that our words are better; and we did agree them here. I will see if any adjustment can be made.

On Question, Bill read 3awith the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.