HL Deb 19 December 1967 vol 287 cc1378-82

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Summer Time (No. 2) Order 1967 be made in the form of the draft laid before the House on November 28. Your Lordships will recall that on July 18 I drew your attention to the fact that the Summer Time Order 1967 provided for Summer Time next year to commence on the Isle of Man on April 7, as distinct from the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands, where it will commence on Febrary 18. This provision was made at the request of the Isle of Man Government, and although it appeared at first sight a little unusual we felt, and your Lordships agreed, that it was for the Government and the people of the Isle of Man to judge what was in their own best interests. But the Isle of Man Government, having given the matter further thought, have now asked that this amending Order be made so that the date of commencement of Summer Time in the Isle of Man in 1968 should coincide with that elsewhere in the British Isles.

I am sure that your Lordships will agree that this change is generally to the advantage of the public, both on the Island and in the United Kingdom. Your Lordships will be aware that this particular subject is one on which the Tynwald is competent to legislate, but as a matter of convenience it has been left to our Legislation and the purpose of this amending Order is solely to provide for the changed view of the Isle of Man Government on the date from which Summer Time should operate in the Island in 1968. The Order has no effect of any kind in the United Kingdom, and I commend it to the House for the purpose of giving effect to the changed view of the Isle of Man on this matter.

Moved, That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Summer Time (No. 2) Order 1967 be made in the form of the draft laid before the House on November 28.—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, I am raising this point now because I feel that I might be out of order if I raised it after this Order had been agreed to. I am concerned about the fact that on these Orders my two noble friends have made, in all, five speeches and there has been a certain amount of debate on each of the Orders. For my sins, I am a member of the Special Orders Committee. One day last week we spent hours of our time on these very same Orders. We asked the civil servants in attendance the sort of questions that have been asked in the House this afternoon. As a result of our deliberations, we decided that none of these Orders and Regulations required the special attention of the House.

I am wondering at this moment what "special attention of the House" can be if it is not what we have been giving these Orders this afternoon. My concern is whether, as a Special Orders Committee, we are not wasting our time. Or are we so appointed on purpose, that we might be found something to do which eventually the House considers afterwards? It seems to me that either one or the other is a complete waste of time. Either the Special Orders Committee is a waste of time, or the House is wasting its time in reconsidering what the Committee have already done. I should be very grateful (I see that the Lord Chairman of Committees is in his place) for some clarification of this matter, so that we may know, as a Committee, just where we are.


My Lords, for my sins I was once a member of the Special Orders Committee, and it is a dreadful warning to my noble friend because he sees where it has landed me now. But I think that he is on a somewhat different point. The Special Orders Committee looks at new Orders to see whether there is something unusual or special about them legislation-wise. In my submission it would be wholly wrong if, after the Special Orders Committee had done their work and made their Report, whatever form the Report took, any Member of your Lordships' House were thereby to be precluded from expressing a point of view on a matter of policy—which is not, with respect, a matter for the Special Orders Committee—or from asking proper questions, such as both noble Lords asked in respect of the Orders which I have moved. I hope that when my noble friend considers that point he will agree that neither the Special Orders Committee nor your Lordships' House have been wasting their time on this.


My Lords, before this goes any further I would ask the Minister to confirm what I had understood: that this Order will be reviewed again in a year's time. I come from a part of the country which has been condemned to almost perpetual night for half a year, and it is by no means welcome.


My Lords, the Order I am now moving applies only to the Isle of Man, and so far as it comes within the competence of the Isle of Man Government I cannot speak for them. On the draft Summer Time Order which I moved back in July, that will be effective from February 18 of next year until October 27 of next year, and two hours before that Order expires the British Standard Time Act comes into operation. This is permanent legislation and I can give no undertaking that the matter is going to be reviewed in a year's time. But I can remind your Lordships that, in response to a speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, I did say that we should be considering the effect of this legislation, and that if we found we had been wrong about it, we might come back with other proposals. But in no sense of the word have I given any kind of undertaking that this is subject to annual review, or anything like it.


My Lords, before passing on, I should like to add a word to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Royle. I do not think that the Minister quite understood the point that he was making. I do not think that he wanted to deprive the House as a whole of being able to discuss these matters. He was looking for some way by which time might not be wasted. We go on very late nowadays, often through wasting a little time. Would it not be possible for the points considered and approved by the Special Orders Committee to be put down in a memorandum which could be circulated with the Papers, so that we could know where we are? We really do not know what the points are which the Special Orders Committee have been discussing. If we could have a note of them, we should be in a much better position to deal with the matter on the Floor of the House.


My Lords, am I wrong in thinking that the primary task of the Special Orders Committee is to see that the Orders are properly laid; that is to say, that they are within the powers of the Act of Parliament on which they are founded?


My Lords, I have tried to be as helpful as possible in this matter, but I hope your Lordships will agree that this subject is not before the House. I would ask your Lordships to consider the Orders which we now have under consideration. I am quite sure, however, that what has been said will be fully noted and considered in the proper quarter.


My Lords, the noble Lord has given us some doubts on the matter, because now it would appear that the Special Orders Committee have not been doing their work properly. I do not know the rules on this subject, but I am wondering whether the matter could be referred back to the Committee so that they could really get to work on it and come again. I should like an answer to that question, if I could have one.


My Lords, may I be permitted to say something about the duties of the Special Orders Committee? The Special Orders Committee have to report to your Lordships on every affirmative Order. They certainly have to decide whether the Order is infra vires. They also have to recommend whether or not a Special Order raises an issue of policy or principle and, therefore, would require the special attention of your Lordships. The Committee consider an Order, with the assistance of professionals, and report one way or the other. But, of course, the recommendations of the Special Orders Committee are purely advisory, and it is for your Lordships to decide whether or not that advice is to be accepted. The Special Orders Committee will continue with their work, so long as your Lordships feel that that work is worth while, whether or not the recommendations that they make to your Lordships are acceptable.

On Question, Motion agreed to: The said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

Forward to