§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, in moving that this Bill be read a second time, I would remind your Lordships that 560 it was really foreshadowed in my statement on November 11. I then stated that certain doubts had been raised about the charges for certain classes of licence. I stressed the word "charges," because there has never at any time been any doubt about the validity of the licences themselves. It was simply a question of whether certain conditions had been carried out before charges were made. In the statement to which I have referred, I explained the matter to your Lordships. The purpose of the Bill is really to make an honest man not only of myself but of all my predecessors. At one time I thought the number was twenty-one, but I learn that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, officiated twice in the office of Postmaster General. Perhaps I should mention one point. We are not dealing here with retrospective legislation in the strict meaning of the term—that is, in the sense that we are imposing a retrospective charge. What we are doing is validating charges that we made in good faith and which were paid in good faith for many years. And those charges, I might add, have been only just sufficient to cover our administrative expenses. I beg to move that the Bill be now given a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl De La Warr.)
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like, in just two brief sentences, to support what the noble Earl has said and to commend this Bill to your Lordships. Perhaps, as one of the line of twenty-two foolish virgins, to which the noble Earl referred, I ought to say how glad I am that his foresight will forestall any possible damage to the national finances that might have resulted from their lack of prescience. I am also glad to think that the noble Earl is the first of a long line of wise virgins who will be able to make these charges for the use of wireless apparatus without ever turning over in their beds at night wondering whether the charges they are making are making are legally valid.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at twenty-six minutes before six o'clock.