HL Deb 16 December 1957 vol 206 cc1182-97

4.19 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the purposes of this Bill are to make a few alterations in the British Nationality Act, 1948, which will serve the needs of the evolving and expanding Commonwealth, and to make such provision as will enable certain individuals, who were not able to take advantage of the provisions of the 1948 Act, to become eligible for citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies.

The 1948 Act, which no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will remember very well, followed the Commonwealth Conference on Nationality and Citizenship in 1947, and resulted in a new conception. That was that instead of an undifferentiated British nationality there should be separate citizenships provided for by the Legislatures of the different parts of the Commonwealth, and that the possession by an individual of such a citizenship—for example, citizenship of Australia or Canada—would automatically confer the common status of British subject or Commonwealth citizen. The 1948 Act had two main results. It created a citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies (that is, all the dependent territories as a single unit), and it conferred the status of British subject on all citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and on every citizen of the Commonwealth countries listed in Section 1 (3) of that Act.

When the Ghana Independence Act was passed early this year, "Ghana" was inserted in Section 1 (3) of the 1948 Act so that when the Parliament of Ghana passed its own citizenship law, Ghana citizens would be recognised in the law of the United Kingdom as British subjects. Ghana has now passed its citizenship law, and if your Lordships will turn to Clause 2 of this Bill, you will see how the general plan of the 1947 Commonwealth Conference is followed up in respect of Ghana. Broadly speaking, Clause 2 withdraws citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies from persons who have recently acquired Ghana citizenship, and they thus become British subjects in United Kingdom law by virtue of their Ghana citizenship—Ghana now being a fully independent Commonwealth country—instead of by their citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies as heretofore. Perhaps I should assure your Lordships that though Clause 2 takes away citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies from many people, those affected are all now Ghana citizens, so that no one will be rendered stateless by this clause, and they will all be British subjects. So much for Clause 2, which puts Ghana on the same footing as any other independent country in the Commonwealth.

Earlier this year, the Parliament of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland brought in a Citizenship Act. As your Lordships know, the Federation is not yet a fully independent member of the Commonwealth, and within the Federated Territories different systems of nationality operate. Citizens of Southern Rhodesia are already recognised in the United Kingdom as British subjects, because Southern Rhodesia was included originally in Section 1 (3) of the 1948 Act; but alongside Southern Rhodesia, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, almost all the people are not British subjects (as they are in Southern Rhodesia) but British protected persons. When the Federal Act, brought in by the Federal Parliament, is passed this year and is brought into force, all Southern Rhodesian citizens will be converted into Federal citizens and British protected persons will be eligible to be registered as Federal citizens on application, if they so wish. But it is recognised that some people may not so wish, for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland greatly value their protectorate status and this Bill does not diminish that status in any way. A person belonging to Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland who does not apply for Federal citizenship will remain a British protected person. This is a compromise, but one to meet local conditions, and I believe that it is a sensible compromise, of which your Lordships can certainly approve.

Clause 2 of the Bill, therefore, deals with the situation in regard to Ghana, which has become a fully independent member of the Commonwealth, and Clause 1 deals with the situation of the Federation. Shortly, Clause 1 merely substitutes "The Federation" for "Southern Rhodesia" in Section 1 (3) of the 1948 Act, so that any citizen of the Federation in future will be recognised in United Kingdom law as a British subject. The other provisions of the clause are technical amendments, necessary because of the rather complicated situation in the Federation which is not yet a fully independent Commonwealth country.

Clause 3 of the Bill is quite different in character. Its purpose is to enlarge the provisions of the 1948 Act to provide for certain persons who may wish to do so, and who were previously disqualified, to apply for registration as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Your Lordships probably all know of cases which were meant to be covered by the 1948 Act, particularly in respect of India and Pakistan, and which, owing to mischance, were not so covered. Those cases arose in several ways. First of all, in 1948, the Commonwealth countries had not defined their citizenship laws, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to foresee whether and how everyone would be covered by laws as yet unmade. In the result, the great majority were satisfactorily covered, but some people found themselves given the transitional status of British subjects without citizenship. Some of these were given the opportunity of applying to the Secretary of State to be registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, if they passed certain tests, before January, 1950, and. through ignorance of the conditions, or mischance, they missed the opportunity. Clause 3 is therefore framed to try to cover this limited number of cases of real hardship.

Without taking your Lordships through a maze of detail, the clause covers these cases of hardship in three ways. First, it revives and extends Section 12 (6) of the Act of 1948, and, in particular, it extends until December 31, 1962, the closing date for those who wish to apply to become citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies. Her Majesty's Government feel that that is a reasonable time to allow during which such applications can be made. Secondly, those persons who have inadvertently lost their citizenship of a Commonwealth country will be allowed to be registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies if they can satisfy the Secretary of State that it is fitting that they should be so registered, by reason of their close connection with the United Kingdom and Colonies. Such cases may arise at any time, so that here the 1962 limit for applications will not apply. Thirdly, Clause 3 permits a person who is a citizen of some other Commonwealth country, or a British subject without citizenship, to be registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies upon producing evidence of service under an international organisation of which the United Kingdom is a member, or of service with a United Kingdom company overseas, instead of evidence of residence in the United Kingdom, or of Crown service abroad, as is the case under the existing law. So the clause widens the field in which the Secretary of State can exercise his discretion. Our hope is that in the drafting of this Bill, and particularly of this clause, we have been able to cover all present and foreseeable cases of hardship. These cases have undoubtedly been very real.

Clause 4 of the Bill is merely an extension of the functions of High Commissioners in regard to the registration of births and deaths. All nationality bills are so complex that I hope that any who wish to benefit from this Bill will study it rather than my speech, which has, necessarily, been an abbreviated account, and will seek advice on their own particular cases from the High Commissioners in the different Commonwealth countries. The High Commissioners will always be ready to give their best advice to them.

In general, the purposes of the Bill are simple. They are: to recognise the new situations created by the Citizenship Acts of Ghana and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; to enable some deserving classes of persons—the hard cases—who missed the chance to do so before to become citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies; and to provide statutory authority for the necessary functions off the United Kingdom High Commissioners in the other Commonwealth countries. Therefore, I beg to move—and I hope your Lordships will allow—the Second Reading of this Bill. Naturally, as I have said, the questions which may be raised are extremely complex, but my noble friend Lord Lansdowne and I will do our best to answer any which may be put to us. If we are unable to do so, noble Lords will perhaps not be surprised if we say that we must consult legal advisers. But I can assure your Lordships that we will do our best. I beg to move that the Bill be now given a Second. Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Home.)

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his explanation of the Bill. I do not think that: towards the end of his speech he need have expressed the hope that anyone who wanted to benefit from the Bill should study the Bill rather than his speech. I think that if they do study the Bill, confusion will be even more confounded. It is a most complex subject, and it is made more complex by the method we have in this country of presenting these amending Bills. As your Lordships will see, this is a Bill which continually refers to the "main Act" and seeks to amend it in a number of places. It also seeks, as it were, to put into the main Act various clauses or subsections in this Bill. There are, if I remember rightly, two other Acts which are also amending of the principal Act—one is the Ghana Independence Act and the other is the Malayan Independence Act.

I really wonder whether it would not be much more convenient—for your Lordships, certainly, and, I should have thought, for the public also—if, instead of trying to embroil ourselves in what the noble Earl has rightly called "a maze", and what I think might equally well be called "a jungle", a completely new amending Act were presented with those parts which are new in it set out in italics or some other distinctive way. It would then be quite clear to us all what was new and in what respect the original Act was being amended. I realise that this suggestion has not the slightest hope of being accepted, because it would be a completely new departure in Parliamentary draftsmanship and Parliamentary methods. But I feel that if some system like that could be adopted, it would be much more convenient for us and the public, for they would then have an up-to-date, fully amended Bill, instead of having to look at perhaps three or four Acts that may to some extent affect them.

We have to remember, as the noble Earl said in the closing part of his speech, that this particular Bill and its predecessors have to be considered by a certain number of people outside this country who may not be very conversant with the English language, and the only people whom they can consult will, in all probability, not be lawyers and not be learned in Constitutional Law. This is another reason why I think we should try, as far as possible, to make a complex subject like this as simple as we can. I throw that out as a suggestion to the noble Marquess who is to reply. I do not do so with any expectation that he will be able to give me an affirmative answer, hut merely in the hope that the Government may consider as a special case this Bill and Bills like it.

This Bill is not only a jungle but—to change the metaphor—a patchwork. And it has not been made any easier by reason of the fact that there are four entirely different and separate considerations in the Bill. The first clause relates to citizenship in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Owing to the enactment of citizenship legislation in the Federation (which, in spite of what the noble Earl has said, I thought had already been enacted and was waiting for the Order bringing it into effect—at all events, whether it has been actually enacted or not it will shortly come into effect) which provides for Federal citizenship, certain consequences take effect in the Federation, but those consequences will not be recognised outside the Federation unless we here pass this Bill and make them have this wider effect. On the passing of the Bill, as I understand (I may be wrong in what I am going to say, but the noble Marquess will correct me if I am) certain events happen. The first is that citizenship of Rhodesia and Nyasaland will confer British nationality and Commonwealth citizenship; secondly, citizenship of Southern Rhodesia will cease to be; thirdly, Southern Rhodesia is not for the purposes of the Act deemed to be a Colony, and, fourthly, the Protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will cease to be treated as Protectorates for most of the purposes of the 1948 Act.

No one could call that a clear picture of events. In Rhodesia and Nyasaland this muddled situation is due to the anomalous position of the Federation, because Southern Rhodesia is both a Colony and not a Colony. I was brought up to believe that Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing Colony, but in Clause 1 (2) of the Bill we are told it is no longer to be a Colony within the purposes of the Act. Well, what is it? It clearly is not a Federation; it clearly is not a Protectorate; it is not an independent Member of the Commonwealth. So what is Southern Rhodesia if it is not a Colony?

Secondly, the Federation being a Federation of a Colony and two Protectorates also imposes a good deal of muddle on the situation, because for some purposes the Protectorates are going to lose their status and for others they are not. There is some contradiction with reference to the Protectorate status at first sight, because, by Clause 1, they will cease to be treated as Protectorates for most of the purposes of the 1948 Act, while by Clause 1 (3), it would seem that to some extent Protectorate status—of the inhabitants though not necessarily of the territories—will be preserved. If I heard him aright, the noble Earl said that he recognised that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland actually valued their Protectorate status and this Bill does not diminish it in any way. A person belonging to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland who does not apply for Federal citizenship will remain a British protected person.

I think that that is a most important statement, which will go a long way towards diminishing any feeling of anxiety there may be in Central Africa. As your Lordships know, lately there have been some events which have caused a great deal of anxiety both there and here. Less than two months ago there was a Constitution Amendment Bill, which was passed in spite of the protests of the African Affairs Board, and the Secretary of State himself refused to treat the Bill as a differentiating one—that is, a measure differentiating against the interest; of Africans. To-day in Salisbury a debate, is taking place on the Federal Franchise Bill, which will limit voting rights for Africans. Presumably this, too, will be referred to the United Kingdom as a differentiating measure, so that the noble Earl's very definite statement in your Lordships' House to-day, in confirmation of 'what appears in rather more vague terms in the Bill, will go a long way to removing anxieties that many people would otherwise have had about this measure.

I take it that what the noble Earl has said to-day means, in effect, that the safeguards which are at present in the Constitution respecting any measure held to be in any way derogatory to Africans or to affect the position of Africans adversely will remain in effect, and that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will sill have supervisory powers with reference to African interests in the two Protectorates. I should like that to be confirmed, if the noble Marquess would do so; because if that is so, I myself see no harm in this provision in the Bill. The second clause deals with Ghana. It withdraws United Kingdom citizenship from United Kingdom citizens who also possess Ghana citizenship. This seems logical to me. It is the result of their independent membership of the Commonwealth. Of course, Ghana citizens will still have British nationality and Commonwealth citizenship. I take it that there is no question about that.

Clause 3 provides for an extension of facilities for registration. As the noble Earl has intimated, this principally affects people in India and Pakistan. In some ways this is the saddest case we have had to consider for a long time in your Lordships' House. In the large cities in India, particularly in Calcutta, there is a large number of persons of what is now called Anglo-Indian descent, but who in the old days were called Eurasian. These people are living in conditions of the greatest possible hardship. When I was in Calcutta only two or three months ago, my wife and I went to see some of the places where these unfortunate people were living, in slums which are indescribably sordid. They were living in conditions of the greatest misery and hardship.

One realises that this is not the fault of the Indian Government in any way at all. There has been a vast influx of refugees from Pakistan, and the Indian Government and the Calcutta Municipality have done all they can in the face of difficult circumstances. Even in our days, in the days of the British Raj, Calcutta was a city which was by no means "underfull," as it were, and it is now intensely overcrowded. Whole families of Eurasians are living in one or two rooms. I went down to see these unfortunate people accompanied by Mrs. Smedley, wife of the United Kingdom Deputy High Commissioner, who, with other European ladies, is doing a wonderful job in trying to look after these unfortunate Eurasian families. Mrs. Smedley had with her a number of forms, which they had to fill in or which more often she filled in for them.

This brings me to the Bill. One difficulty is that many of these families are unable to provide any proof that they are directly descended from United Kingdom citizens. Under the Bill, they have to show that they are direct descendants of persons born or naturalised in the United Kingdom or the Colonies, intend to stay in the United Kingdom or Colonies and have close associations with the United Kingdom or Colonies. In many cases their ancestors were not people who walked around with, birth certificates. While there is no question of their being descended from British fathers, very often British soldiers, they have no proof of it. All they can say is, "I believe my father or grandfather came from such-and-such a place in England."

This becomes a matter for the Secretary of State himself, because for once we have the authority before us. It will remain in his discretion whether or not he is going to accept such evidence as these people can provide, and I hope that he will be very lenient in the matter. This is very important. Once the noble Earl accepts the fact, there are funds out of which these people can get assisted passages, and if they feel that they can no longer fit into modern India they can, as so many have done before them, go to Australia, the United Kingdom or elsewhere, wherever they think they can fit in and wherever the community will receive them. I am happy to say, in these days of homeless refugees, that the people of whom I have been speaking are not many, but they are cases of hardship in which we, as a country, have a special responsibility. Therefore I would ask the noble Earl to look at this whole problem most sympathetically and see what he can do to clear up the backlog of cases affecting these unfortunate people.

Clause 4 deals with the statutory provision enabling the High Commissioners to register births and deaths in Commonwealth countries. I understand that this applies only to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, but presumably there is no reason why it cannot extend to other countries if the need arises. Perhaps the noble Marquess will confirm that when he comes to reply. I do not think that there is anything more I need say on the Bill. In substance, it is a useful measure, although I think that in form it is a very confusing one.

4.49 p.m.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for many moments, but I should like to make one or two observations on this Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Home, suggested that we should study the Bill and try to understand it. My first observation is that I think this Bill fulfils all the expectations of those responsible for drafting Bills—their ability to implant confusion in the lay mind. From their point of view they have done a most satisfactory job. The Bill is a jungle of obscurity, a forest of seemingly incomprehensible wording, and a swamp of tangled verbiage, quite worthy of Darkest Africa, with which the Bill deals. I would protest mildly, if I may, on this contravention of what many of us learned years ago—namely, that the first principle of Staff work is: never deal with more than one subject in one letter. This Bill deals with four subjects and three Territories. I cannot help feeling that when the Ghana Independence Act was passed by Parliament, this question of citizenship between Ghana and Britain should have been dealt with, instead of putting it in this Bill which deals with so many different subjects.

It is only with regard to Clause 2 that I wish to ask any questions. I am puzzled about a case, which I can call the case of "Mr. A." Poor Mr. A! He was always carrying more coal than Mr. B or Mr. C at school, or doing one of those terrible feats dealt with in mathematical problems. Mr. A is a man of European descent, and he wishes to retain his United Kingdom citizenship. He was born in Ghana; his father was born in Ghana and his grandfather was born in Ghana, because they are what are called the old coasters, the old traders, who came of a famous trading family on the then Gold Coast. He was educated in England and then went back to Ghana to carry on the family business. Mr. A. has hitherto had a United Kingdom passport; but his father and grandfather lived in the happy days when such things as passports were not worried about—the days that the late Mr. Ernest Bevin hoped might one day come again. So we have the position that Mr. A. has a passport, but his father and grandfather had none.

I do not know whether under this Bill Mr. A is a citizen of Ghana—because Ghana has passed her own citizenship laws, and this Bill does not say what those laws are. The Bill does not say whether this man would be a registered citizen of Ghana; indeed, it does not say what conditions must be fulfilled for him to obtain Ghana registration. But, so far as I can see, he lapses as a United Kingdom citizen unless he comes under the umbrella of Clause 2 (2). What does that say? It says that his United Kingdom citizenship lapses unless one of the three generations was born in the United Kingdom. In his case, that is not so. Then it says his United Kingdom citizenship lapses unless he was a person naturalised in the United Kingdom and Colonies. —Mr. A was not—or was registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. I do not know what registration in the United Kingdom meant in the old days or, indeed, what it means to-day. Is it the holding of a passport? Does that mean registration? We have done away with the identity card. That was a form of registration. The holding of an insurance card is. I suppose, some form of registration. But I do not know how we can say that a man was "registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom."

I think I can reasonably ask for clarification of this case of Mr. A, who does not wish to lose his United Kingdom citizenship as the price of living in Ghana, and certainly does not wish to become (as we have had an assurance he would not become) a stateless person. He wishes, quite naturally, to continue to serve the Slate to which his family have contributed so much previously, the Gold Coast, now Ghana; nevertheless, he wants to retain the United Kingdom citizenship which he and his forbears have enjoyed for three generations. I hope that the case of Mr. A may be dealt with in the reply of the noble Marquess who is to wind up for the Government.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, I should like first to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for the manner in which he has received this Bill and for drawing attention to the complications within it, because in studying the Bill in preparation for replying I, too, found it as complicated as he did—and perhaps with more reason, for the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is thoroughly familiar with the 1948 Act. I will endeavour to deal with the various points that have been raised both by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye.

In so far as the position of British protected persons is concerned, I can categorically assure the noble Lord that their status is in no way altered. There is one small point on Clause 1 which perhaps I might be allowed to clear up, or behalf of my noble friend the Leader of the House. I think that, by a slip of the tongue, he used the expression that it had not yet been enacted. In fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, it has been enacted, but it will not be brought into force until it is so ruled by the Governor-General, so that the Bill we are now discussing and it will be synchronised.

Reference has been made to the complicated drafting of this Bill, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested that perhaps a completely new amending Act might be desirable. I am sure we shall give sympathetic consideration to this suggestion for future reference, but I think it is only proper that I should point out, as indeed, the noble Lord fully knows, that with a rapidly evolving Commonwealth it is almost inevitable that difficulties of this sort should arise.


I am not suggesting for a moment that the noble Marquess can give an answer to-day, because this is a complete change in Parliamentary draftsmanship. But that is why I think one ought to have a Bill that is up to date all the time. The other is an old-fashioned method. Parliamentary draftsmen have always done it; and lawyers are used to it; but one must not always listen to Parliamentary draftsmen and lawyers. We have to think of the people who have to deal with these matters abroad; and if they always had an up-to-date Act before them, I should have thought it would be much better than having to refer back to three, four or five Acts.


I thank the noble Lords for explaining further and, as I say, I can assure him that his suggestion will receive careful consideration.

I do not think there are any difficulties on Clause 2 of the Bill. On Clause 3 the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, drew attention to these sad cases of which Her Majesty's Government are fully aware. The question of the administration of the Secretary of State's powers to register persons as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies raises complicated issues, as the noble Lord knows, but the Secretary of State undertakes personally to scrutinise the instructions issued to United Kingdom High Commissioners, bearing in mind, of course, the sentiments that have been expressed by the noble Lord, with which we on this side of the House fully concur. I think it might be of interest if I told your Lordships that the number of people involved is relatively small; it amounts to some hundreds. In Ceylon, so far as we know, there are about twenty cases; but of course there are more in India and Pakistan. In so far as persons who lost British nationality as a result of the operation of the law in another country in the Commonwealth are concerned, during the past five years the Home Office have had about 100 cases only. So the problem with which we have to deal is confined, largely, I think, to Pakistan and India.

May I turn for a moment to the vexed case of Lord Balfour of Inchrye's "Mr. A."? Mr. A. quite definitely belongs to Ghana. He would be in exactly the same position as a man who could fulfil the same description in Canada or Australia. He would belong to Ghana, and he would at the same time be a British subject.


Therefore, he must surrender his United Kingdom passport which he has hitherto held and which it is his wish to retain? I want to get that quite clear.


My Lords, I must ask for notice of that very fast ball. I am quite certain that the information I have given the noble Lord so far is correct, but I should not like to mislead the House by giving further information which might not be correct.


My Lords, I am not quite sure that the noble Marquess is entirely correct. This is largely a sort of exercise in logic. I do not think that there are many "Mr. A.s" in Ghana.


There is one.


I have had no notice of this, but if he, his father, or his grandfather, was born in Accra, it seems to me that they would be outside the scope of this Bill. If he was born in Kumasi, he would be within the scope of it. Usually in these West African Colonies (I cannot quite remember about the former Gold Coast, but I believe I am right) there is a small portion of land which used to be the trading post, which is the British Colony, and the rest of it is a protectorate. Therefore, under Clause 2 (2) (a) he would, in fact, have been born, or his grandfather or father would have been born, in a colony. In that case, he would be in a quite different position than if he had been born in Kumasi, which was a protectorate, although all were within the Gold Coast. I think I am right, but I shall be glad to be corrected if I am wrong.


My Lords, I think this question is helpful, if for no other reason than that it shows the difficulty of giving a proper judgment for individual cases. Therefore, each one must be carefully scrutinised on its merits. For that reason, if for no other, I think we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for raising this point.


But there is no discretion given to the Minister. We are now passing an Act of Parliament. There is no power under this Act for an order to be issued to give the Minister discretion. We are passing a positive Act. I do not wish to press the Minister, but I am asking for an interpretation of the Bill we are asked to pass and of the position of this gentleman. He was actually born on the coast, but let us assume that he was borne either in Kumasi or on the coast. What is his position? Does he have to post back to the United Kingdom the passport that he has been so proud to hold for years past, or does he not?


I rather think the answer is that, if he was born in the United Kingdom or a Colony (and part of the Gold Coast might be held to be that, as the noble Lord has pointed out), then—


He is all right.


Yes. If he is not, he becomes a citizen of Ghana and a British subject. When his British passport runs out, he has to surrender it and take a Ghanian passport as, indeed, an Australian or Canadian would have to do to-day in a similar situation. I think that is the position.


I thank the noble Earl.


I am most grateful for the welcome assistance, and I hope the noble Lord is now satisfied.


Silent, but unsatisfied.


My Lords, there was a further point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, with regard to the powers of High Commissioners to register. I should like to assure the noble Lord at once that his assumption is perfectly correct; and if the need does arise there is no reason whatever why High Commissioners should not have similar powers in other parts of the Commonwealth. I do not think there were any other points the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised with which I have not dealt.


My Lords, may I speak again, with the leave of the House? I think the countries concerned, Ghana and Southern Rhodesia, would like this Bill to become law as soon as maybe. If the noble Lord has no objection, we might perhaps take the remaining stages at some point this week.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.