HL Deb 25 May 1948 vol 155 cc1005-7

[The references are to Bill No. 32.]

Clause 2, page 2, line 14, leave out (" one-half ") and insert (" three-fifths ").


My Lords, this Amendment, I regret to say, was very hotly contested. The point was discussed at great length in your Lordships' House. The Minister of Agriculture gave careful consideration to the views put forward by your Lordships, but finally came to the conclusion that he should stand by his original opinion, and in another place this Amendment was put down to restore the original wording. In view of the extreme fullness of the study and discussion which has been given on this Amendment, I hope your Lordships will now agree to it. I now beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.

Moved, That this House do agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Earl of Huntingdon.)


My Lords, it is quite true that we had a controversy about this matter on Report stage and Third Reading in this House. I should not say that it was a heated controversy, because it was an extremely friendly one. On the Report stage I proposed an Amendment which the noble Earl rejected, and in that spirit of compromise which so often animates me I proposed a minor Amendment on Third Reading by the process which is allowed in this House. It is true that the noble Earl then declined to accept it, and that we divided. I then said that it was no good talking about our raising a controversy between the two Houses, because the Bill had been initiated in your Lordships' House and, if any controversy arose on the matter, it would be the other place and not your Lordships who were raising the controversy, because they would be amending a Bill sent down to them by this House. I am sorry the Minister has guided the other place—because that is obviously what has happened—to reinsert the proportions that were originally in this Bill, because we proposed an extremely moderate Amendment. We merely gave the Minister permission to vary between two larger numbers, and I think it was quite clearly pointed out in this House that there were two areas where the drainage boards provided a greater percentage of the money, and therefore ought to have a larger representation.

Those two cases were acknowledged quite frankly by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon. We were only giving the Minister permission to vary it. Normally I think we give Ministers far too much power, and especially, if I may say so, the Ministers of the' present Government. Therefore, I should be the last person, as a rule, to insist on giving to Ministers wider discretion, more regulating powers and that kind of thing. That being my general outlook on life, certainly we are not inclined to cause a controversy between the other place and this House on this small matter. We still think we were right. We still think the Minister ought to have gratefully accepted the latitude which we gave him. He has declined to accept that, but we are certainly not going to disagree with the other place on this small matter. We only hope that if it falls to our lot in future to disagree with them—as, of course, we may do next week—they will take an equally reasonable view of our disagreement as we are at the present time taking of theirs. The noble Earl may rest assured that he can have this Amendment. With regard to the remainder of the Amendments, if I am in order in mentioning them now, I do not think there is anything controversial in any of them and, so far as I am concerned, it will be quite sufficient if the noble Earl moves them as formally as he can.

On Question, Motion agreed to.