HL Deb 16 July 1964 vol 260 cc406-8

4.29 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Derwent.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Penalisation of unauthorised possession of scheduled substances]:


I think that this Amendment and the next one will stand, or fall, together. I shall be very surprised if they do not. The Bill uses the rather cumbersome expression "medical store-carrying ship". I think that if one went down to Grimsby and asked one of the skippers "Is this a medical store-carrying ship?" he would say, "I beg your pardon, mate, say that again", and if you asked him again, "Is this a medical store-carrying ship?" he would say, "No, of course it isn't; it's a ship carrying medical stores. "I am all for Statutes making use of the ordinary language which ordinary, sensible people use. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 32, leave out ("medical store-carrying ship") and insert ("ship carrying medical stores").—(Lord Airedale.)


I am afraid I must resist this Amendment—and as the noble Lord has said the next one goes with it—on three grounds. In so far as the Bill is concerned, there is no possibility of misunderstanding, because what this means is described in Clause 9, which is the clause explaining what certain phrases and words mean. Secondly, this is wording used in previous Statutes, and it is inadvisable in different Statutes to use different words for things that are the same. Thirdly, at this stage of the Session I suggest to your Lordships that it is not sensible to carry an Amendment which is unnecessary.


Perhaps this means that Bills which go through early in the Parliamentary year may have to be in good English, but those which go through towards the end of the Session can be in bad English. I should not have thought that was a sensible proposition. Nor do I accept from the Minister the contention that a solecism once committed in legislation has to be with us for all time and every subsequent Act of Parliament dealing with the same subject has to repeat the solecism purely for the sake of slavish uniformity. I should not have thought there was the slightest difficulty in coming to the conclusion that a "ship carrying medical stores" meant exactly the same thing as a "medical store-carrying ship", but it is rather better language.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Interpretation]:


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 1, leave out ("medical store-carrying ship") and insert ("ship carrying medical stores").—(Lord Airedale.)


I feel it is only fair to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, for at least one to raise his voice in support of the wording which he prefers to use rather than that which the noble Lord on the Front Bench has said is used in other enactments. At the same time, I feel that my noble friend Lord Derwent is probably right in saying that it would not be wise to accept the Amendment at this juncture.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


I am afraid we are still on the same line of the Bill, that is the first line on page 7 which reads: 'medical store-carrying ship' means a ship on board of which a supply of medicine and medical stores is required to be kept…". I think this is something that we really cannot have. It is one of the curiosities of the English language, perhaps, that although you may have a ship on the decks of which cargo is carried, it is nevertheless not a ship on board of which a cargo is carried. If you use the expression "on board ship", you do not need the qualification of the word "of". I beg to move that we get rid of this entirely superfluous word.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 1, leave out ("of").—(Lord Airedale.)


I rely here on the Standard Oxford Dictionary. It is quite clear from the Standard Oxford Dictionary that the expressions "on board of" and "on board" are equally permissible, the former being the older form and the more traditional. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment.


I venture to suggest that the newer and contemporary form is more appropriate to legislation in 1964. I do not think this is an Amendment that I ought to withdraw.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Remaining clauses and Schedule, agreed to.

House resumed. Bill reported without amendment: Report received.