HL Deb 07 March 1967 vol 280 cc1328-44

2.57 p.m.

Report of Amendments received (according to Order).

Clause 5:

Matters subject to investigation


(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorising or requiring the Commissioner to review by way of appeal any decision taken by a government department or other authority in the exercise of a discretion vested in that department or authority.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved to leave out subsection (4). The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the first Amendment on the Order Paper, to leave out subsection (4) of Clause 5. This arises out of Amendments moved by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, on the Committee stage, when the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said that he would prefer to see subsection (4) taken out altogether; he would be happier if it were not in the Bill at all. He said: I am anxious that the Commissioner should be free to investigate where he thinks fit, and I am not sure that that is quite clear at the moment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21/2/67, col. 676.] The noble Lord, Lord Harlech, said: I think we all appreciate that the Parliamentary Commissioner cannot become a sort of Court of Appeal against every ministerial decision. This would make Government impossible. But also we are anxious—and here I agree with my noble friend—that Departments or Ministers should not avoid investigation simply by declaring that the decision they had taken was one which was in exercise of the discretion vested in them by Act of Parliament".—[col. 679.]

I also said that I thought it was clear what we all wanted. On the one hand, we wanted the Commissioner, whether or not at the end of the day there was a question of discretion, to be perfectly free to investigate; while, on the other hand, if, having investigated, he found that there was no maladministration at all he was not to be a one-man Court of Appeal from a question of policy or discretion vested in a Minister by Parliament.

I ventured to express the view that the subsection was, perhaps, open to misinterpretation in the clause in which it was in the Bill, because everything else in the clause was a statement as to when the Commissioner could investigate and when he could not. I was therefore a little apprehensive about the fact that where in such a clause you find a subsection which says that the Commissioner may not review something, it might, rightly or wrongly, be argued that, being in a clause the marginal note to which is Matters subject to investigation, with everything else in the clause defining his sphere of investigation, the effect was that when at the end of the day there was a discretion there could be no investigation.

I said that it would be my intention, if those Amendments were withdrawn, to move on the Report stage, first, an Amendment deleting this subsection, and then, in a later part of the Bill, an Amendment to insert a clause to make it clear that where, having investigated, the Parliamentary Commissioner was satisfied that there was no maladministration it was not for him to review on the merits a decision taken in the exercise of a statutory discretion. This is what this Amendment and Amendment No. 7 do, and I naturally move this Amendment on the footing that Amendment No. 7 will be accepted, but no doubt we can argue No. 7 when we come to it. I hope that this Amendment will therefore be a popular choice. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 10, leave out subsection (4).—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, may I say very humbly to the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor that, as a layman, I am very glad he has withdrawn this subsection? I am not dealing now with the later Amendment, of course; but during the Second Reading debate, speaking for people with no legal knowledge, I said I found this subsection very difficult to understand, and I should like to express my very great appreciation to the Lord Chancellor for withdrawing it.


My Lords, I think that the suggestion of the learned and noble Lord the Lord Chancellor was that we should take this Amendment fairly shortly, and should discuss the substitute for it at whatever length the House thinks fit when we come to Amendment No. 7. If that is so, then I do not wish to say anything at this stage, but will reserve any remarks I might have until the discussion on the later Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10:

Reports by Commissioner


(3) If, after conducting an investigation under this Act, it appears to the Commissioner that injustice has been caused to the person aggrieved in consequence of maladministration and that the injustice has not been, or will not be, remedied, he may, if he thinks fit, lay before the House of Commons a special report upon the case

(4) The Commissioner shall annually lay before the House of Commons a general report on the performance of his functions under this Act and may from time to time lay before that House such other reports with respect to those functions as he thinks fit.

(5) For the purposes of the law of defamation, any such publication as is hereinafter mentioned shall be absolutely privileged, that is to say—

  1. (a) the publication of any matter by the Commissioner in making a report to the House of Commons for the purposes of this Act;
  2. (b) the publication of any matter by a member of that House in communicating with the Commissioner or his officers for those purposes or by the Commissioner or his officers in communicating with such a member for those purposes;

3.2 p.m.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved, in subsection (3), to leave out "the House of Commons" and insert "each House of Parliament". The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment concerns basically a Lords Minister and a special report made by the Parliamentary Commissioner under this Bill. This matter has been discussed twice, first on Second Reading and also when my noble friend Lord Harlech moved an Amendment during the Committee stage, which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said three times, I think, that he would look at again. I think that at that time the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was not altogether sure of the merits of this point, but I would think there are two matters which ought to be considered.

First of all, there is the position of this House if a Member of it who is either a Minister at the time or (perhaps, in some cases, more important) who has been a Minister, either in a previous Government or in a previous form of the same Government, but is no longer in that position, is criticised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for something which he or his Department have done. So long as this House exists in its present form, I very much hope that we shall always have the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, of whatever Party, in charge of his Department and sitting here. I well recall, from various discourses that the noble and learned Lord has given us about the duties of his Department, that he has indicated that he has to deal with a very wide range of subjects. He has explained this at great length, and indeed has led us to believe that it is the job of a superman to fit in all these tasks in the 24 hours of a day; and I well believe it. Each one of them, however, might well be the subject of the sort of criticism which would go to the Parliamentary Commissioner.

The Lord Chancellor's Department is his own responsibility. Any Minister in another place would hardly be able adequately to answer for what was done by the noble and learned Lord and his Department, and he would be the only person who could give a satisfactory explanation of a decision which had been taken. If the Parliamentary Commissioner reported—and, of course, I use this only as an example, because there are other Ministers with departmental duties who might well sit in this House—and made an adverse report upon one of the activities of the noble and learned Lord's Department, then, as the Bill stands at the present moment that report would go only to another place. I think, first of all, it would be very difficult for this House, in those circumstances, to debate it; and, secondly, there are grave difficulties about a Member of this House—and a Minister is no exception in this respect—going to give evidence or to appear in front of a Select Committee in another place.

In these circumstances, I find it difficult to see how Parliament would be able to examine a Minister who sat in this House on the subject matter of a report made by the Parliamentary Commissioner—and, of course, the whole essence of this Bill is that Parliament should be able to examine Ministers, Ministers of this House being no exception. Therefore, notwithstanding the difficulties which might arise under Standing Orders and things of that nature, which I would have thought did not necessarily arise or need to be discussed on this Amendment, but could be dealt with later by the appropriate Committee, I think we at any rate need to found a jurisdiction for ourselves to discuss these matters, either in the House itself or, if we choose to set up some other form of machinery, by that means. This must mean, I think, that the special report of the Parliamentary Commissioner must also be made to this House, so that where it concerns a Minister who sits here we may have proper cognisance of it and may deal accordingly with it. That is the first point, and I do not think it is in fact all that different in principle from the one which is the subject matter of the later Amendment to be moved by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor himself, providing that annual reports, which might include such criticisms, although perhaps not so directly or personally, should in fact come to this House. I think the principle is very much the same.

The other point is the Minister's own position. It may well be that in most cases this House will think fit to dispense with its Rules—I do not know—and allow a Lords Minister to go and give evidence, perhaps, in front of a Select Committee of another place; or there might be machinery incorporating some of your Lordships in the Select Committee in those circumstances. That, I think, is not the point. But unless we make this House capable of dealing with these reports, a Minister who sits here may have grave difficulty in defending himself and the work of his Department. I think it would be proper for this House to ask him to do so, since he is a Member of it; and I think we should like to hear his explanation. But I think, above all, that he ought to have the opportunity in his own House to get up and explain the conduct of which he is accused, and try to make out his justification for acting in the way in which he did.

I think my Amendment on this special report from the Parliamentary Commissioner would set the scene for both these matters being put right. It is not the complete answer in itself, but I think it would bring this House into the picture in such a way that we could make other arrangements to deal with the perhaps more complicated but I think subsidiary matters of the machinery by which these investigations could in fact take place. I therefore hope that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton (if it is he who is to reply), may have considered this matter more favourably in the interim, and may now be able to accept this Amendment as embodying no different principle at all from that in the Amendment about the annual report which the Government themselves are to move. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 32, leave out ("the House of Commons") and insert ("each House of Parliament")—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)


My Lords, I should like to support the Amendment of the noble Viscount. Apart from the reasons which he himself has given in support of it on the grounds that there might be cases of Ministers in this House against whom such a report is directed, these occasional reports are still reports made by the Parliamentary Commissioner, as he is to be called. I cannot see what the Government stand to lose by agreeing to lay these special reports before both Houses of Parliament. I accept, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said in Committee, that it seems to be the Government's intention that they should be referred to a special Committee which will consist only of Members of another place, but this decision is always one which could be changed by the Government, and changed independently of the future of this Bill; and, indeed, it might be possible that they will change their minds and set up a Committee comprising Members of both Houses.

But even if the reports are to go to a Select Committee formed only of Members of the House of Commons, I suppose this House might in practice feel some inhibition or some frustration when it came to the question of debating them; whereas, if they were laid here also, I think that, when the time came that this House wanted to debate one of these reports, the Government could less easily argue that it was not the business of this House to do so. It seems to me that that is a sufficient reason for supporting this Amendment, and if it came to a Division I think I should tend to support it in that Division.


My Lords, I should like to say a word or two in support of the Amendment. This House not infrequently debates cases of alleged injustice to particular individuals. Very often, this House has more time than another place to devote to matters of that kind. Very often this House can arrange debates on matters of that kind more speedily than is possible in another place. I should have thought there was no better example of a proper subject for debate of this kind in your Lordships' House than a case falling within this subsection, where the Parliamentary Commissioner had found that injustice had been done to some particular individual and it appeared that the injustice would not be remedied. I think it would be a very great shame if this House were to feel in any way embarrassed at debating matters of this kind because this House had not officially been given the special report of the Commissioner into the case so that it seemed that in some way this was a matter that was being reserved for another place and not for this House. I should have thought the Government might well give way and accept this Amendment in order that these particular cases could freely be debated in this House just as easily as in another place.

3.13 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I should like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, on hitting on a point both of great interest and of some real substance. It is the intention of the Government to accept this Amendment. I should like to give a little background, because it relates closely to some of the other material in the noble Viscount's speech. I know he suggested that perhaps we should not go into this at any great length to-day, but it is the basis of the Government's thinking in this matter.

On the Committee stage I suggested that these reports were primarily concerned with matters referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner by Members of another House. Your Lordships, by a quite decisive vote, decided that we did not ourselves wish to have access to the Parliamentary Commissioner. It is right (and here I think there will be no disagreement) that in this matter the Select Committee of the Commons will be the body to whom the Parliamentary Commissioner will turn in regard to those matters on which it is appropriate for him to consult them and to whom he wishes to refer matters of dispute.

In accepting the Amendment I am not accepting it so much in the terms of the argument which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, advanced; that this will be the place where we might have more time to discuss questions of individual injustice. I do not deny for one moment your Lordships' right and indeed, in certain circumstances, your duty, to raise particular cases. But traditionally—and I am sure most noble Lords will agree—these are matters which tend on the whole to be essentially constituency matters, which will fall to be dealt with in another place. When I was resisting the Amendment on the Committee stage I suggested that there would be nothing to stop your Lordships from raising a particular case here, and that what we wanted was a situation in which, while the report did not come to us it was, so to speak, "copied" to us. This aroused some indignation on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, but it represented to my mind precisely the sort of relationship that I believe existed. We did not ourselves necessarily want to get directly involved in these special reports; but we wished to be able to take cognisance of them and, like any copy addressee, if necessary, to weigh in.

The noble Lord raised a more fundamental issue than that: the relationship between this House and another place. He suggested that difficulties might arise over the possible request of a Member of this House to give evidence before the Select Committee on a matter of which this House had no cognisance, or on which it was not likely, officially, to see the report. The Government have decided—I think rightly and it in no way fetters your Lordships in any action you take—that this is clearly a matter in which, in the interests of good relations between the two Houses, and on the merits of the case put forward by the noble Viscount, all the appropriate reports which the Parliamentary Commis- sioner may issue should be laid before both Houses of Parliament. The Government are going to accept the Amendment.

I should like just to touch briefly on the wider question of whether Members of your Lordships' House can be summoned to appear before a Select Committee in another place. Obviously, this is a matter which, in the first instance should perhaps be examined by the Committee on Procedure. It may be that we shall even wish to talk about it further on Third Reading. I have made a few preliminary inquiries of my own, and, while I do not wish to suggest that what I say is authoritative, I am reasonably satisfied about the situation, notwithstanding the rather restrictive nature of Standing Order No. 22.

That Order states: No Lord shall either go down to the House of Commons or send his answer in writing, or appear by counsel, to answer any accusation there. That was a Standing Order of 1674. In fact, this House appears to have taken a lenient view of this Standing Order and in a number of cases in the past did not enforce it at all. If any noble Lord wished to examine the authorities, he would find that there have been a number of cases, going back to the Duke of Buckingham; and later on a predecessor of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, was freely allowed to attend in another place. This was dependent on the interpretation, I think, of the word "accusation".

In 1805, however, your Lordships took rather a more restrictive—I should have thought more precise—view of the meaning of this Standing Order in the case of Lord Melville. But even then, they applied their restrictions within definite limits and, on the advice of the Committee for Privileges, came to the view that: …it appears undeniably by uniform series of precedents down to the present time that the course adopted by the House respecting the giving leave to Members of this House to go down to the House of Commons has been first to permit the Members of this House on their own request to defend themselves in the House of Commons if they think fit on any points which that House had not previously passed any accusatory or criminating resolution against them. Noble Lords who are historians will recall that it was not long before that date that the House of Commons had passed a very frankly criminating resolution with regard to Lord Melville. Notwithstanding that, he did subsequently go down, although he did not appear before the Select Committee but appeared before the whole House. I think, therefore, that there is a long tradition in this matter that your Lordships have been given permission to attend in another place.

The Parliamentary Commissioner, although he himself has the power of a court of record, will not be operating, as the Swedish Ombudsman does, as a prosecutor. As we know, the Swedish Ombudsman can bring people before the administrative court. Our scheme is a practical, very typically British-adapted arrangement designed to put wrong right in the quickest and most effective way. I am sure that in this matter it is likely that this House will continue to take the liberal view that they have done for several centuries past. None the less, I would agree with the noble Lord that this is a matter which might be examined by the Committee on Procedure, if only because it appears that in this day we are likely to take a more precise view of the meaning of a Standing Order than perhaps in the lackadaisical days in the past in your Lordships' House. Therefore I must congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. I have not been able to give as full a constitutional account of the position as I should have liked, because this is based only on some final reading I did a short while before the debate; but I am sure that your Lordships are glad that these reports will be coming before your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and I think that the House is, too. It must be a matter of rejoicing to him that in his position as Deputy Leader he has been able to take some active step which I think will add to the comity between the two Houses, which is of great importance and was, I think, the fundamental point which this Amendment raised. I agree with the noble Lord that it may well be that in the vast majority of cases your Lordships will not wish to discuss the special reports at all, but I was anxious that there should be no bar upon the House doing so, which seemed to me to be the case.

Finally, my Lords, so far as Standing Order No. 22 is concerned, I agree with the noble Lord that this should go to the Committee on Procedure. But he will of course recognise that it would have been singularly difficult for the Committee on Procedure to make any general or any particular ruling on this if the subject-matter of the report was not before the House at all. This was the difficulty that I foresaw and which the noble Lord, in accepting this Amendment, has, I think, wholly done away with. I am therefore very grateful to him, and I hope that the House will agree that this Amendment should be made.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, in subsection (4), to leave out "the House of Commons" and insert "each House of Parliament". The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, if no noble Lord disagrees I would venture to address your Lordships on Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 together and then to move them, because they all relate to exactly the same point. These Amendments arise out of an Amendment moved from the Liberal Benches on the Committee stage and relate to the publication of the annual report.

I apologise for the fact that I have this afternoon, on this and other Amendments, to carry on something of a colloquy with noble Lords on the Liberal Benches, while at the same time turning my back on them. This, as your Lordships may know, is entirely due to Thomas Cromwell. Henry VIII passed an Act the object of which was to get the Archbishops off the steps of the Throne and sitting where they now sit, and to get Thomas Cromwell on the steps of the Throne, because he was the man whom Henry had decided would despoil the monasteries. He was to preside over Convocation, though he had never been ordained; in fact, he had not even got a university degree. That being the object of the Act, in order to camouflage it King Henry VIII also laid down in the Act where a number of other people were to sit, so that it looked merely as though it was an Act to arrange where people were to sit. It was there laid down, and is still law, that the two seats nearest the Throne in front of the Benches now occupied by the Liberal Party were, and indeed still are, the seats of the two Royal Dukes. The third seat is the Lord Chancellor's seat. Of course, he has not sat on it for about 350 years, because he always sits on the Woolsack. The reason why, though a member of the Government, I address your Lordships from the Opposition side of the House instead of from the Government side is that that is where I should be if I got up from the seat that I have not sat on for 350 years. I am not sure that this is not a point which ought to engage the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, or other reformers, at some stage. I apologise for turning my back to them in this way.

The noble Lord, Lord Wade, contended that at least the annual reports ought to be put before this House as well as the other House. I said I was quite prepared to accept that on the part of the Government, though I had been advised that the noble Lord's wording was not quite correct and that some consequential Amendment would be needed. My Lords, this Amendment gives effect to that undertaking, and the remaining Amendments are the consequential Amendments referred to. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 34, leave out ("the House of Commons") and insert ("each House of Parliament").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.23 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has pointed out, since this Amendment was in substance moved in Committee stage by my noble friend Lord Wade (who, incidentally, regrets very much that he is unable to be here this afternoon), I should like to say that we on these Benches are very grateful to the Government for accepting it in this its improved version. The arguments advanced now and then seemed sound, and if there is a justification for the title of "Parliamentary Commissioner", and any justification for the responsibility of this House for his removal from office he must, at some level, be made accountable to this House, and it should be made formally clear that his work is open for us to debate and to comment upon. I think this has been made clear, and we are pleased that the Government have seen fit to introduce this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 36, leave out ("that House") and insert ("each House of Parliament").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 43, leave out ("the House of Commons") and insert ("either House of Parliament").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 6.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 1, leave out ("that House") and insert ("the House of Commons").—(The Lord chancellor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Interpretation]:

3.28 p.m.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved to add to the clause: It is hereby declared that nothing in this Act authorises or requires the Commissioner to question the merits of a decision taken without maladministration by a government department or other authority in the exercise of a discretion vested in that department or authority.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this is the other Amendment which I agreed to move on Report stage in association with Amendment No. 1. I hope it does that which we have all, I think, always intended. As the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, said on Committee stage, no Government could tolerate a Commissioner being made a one-man Court of Appeal from a discretionary decision. This Amendment makes clear that it is in no way restricting what the Commissioner investigates. The Amendment reads: It is hereby declared that nothing in this Act authorises or requires the Commissioner to question the merits of a decision taken without maladministration by a government department or other authority in the exercise of a discretion vested in that department or authority.

Parliament has, of course, left many questions of policy and discretion to Ministers. Whether you have a new town at place A or place B is a question of discretion, and no one, I think, ever intended that the Parliamentary Commissioner should express an opinion on the merits of what, at the end of the day, is a question of discretion. I hope, therefore, that this meets with the approval of the House, and accordingly I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 28, at end insert the said subsection.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, as I have an Amendment to this Amendment on the Marshalled List, I think it is correct that I should say a word now as to the Amendment which I was proposing to move—


My Lords, will the noble Lord be moving his Amendment now?


My Lords, I think it is in order if I now move Amendment No. 8, which is to insert in the proposed new subsection, after the word "taken", the words, "in good faith". The purpose of this Amendment to the Amendment is to ensure that "maladministration" refers not only to the machinery of collecting the matters which require consideration at the time the consideration is made and placing them before the person considering them in exercising his discretion upon them, but also to the actual careful consideration of all those matters by the person about to exercise his discretion.

If maladministration includes all those things, then I shall concede that this Amendment to insert "in good faith" will be unnecessary and I shall be pleased to withdraw it. But if maladministration means merely the machinery of collecting the documents together and the matters which have to be considered, and no more, then I submit that it would be appropriate to accept the Amendment so as to make certain that it is necessary, in order to escape the attention of the Parliamentary Commissioner, that the person about to exercise his discretion in a case shall have carefully considered all the matters requiring consideration in good faith at the time that his discretion is exercised. I beg to move.

Amendment to Amendment moved— Line 3, after ("taken") insert ("in good faith and").—(Lord Airedale.)


If I may comment first on the Amendment to the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, I shall of course be interested to hear what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has to say about it, but the impression I have received from reading the Reports of the various stages of the Bill in another place and in your Lordships' House is that we cannot define maladministration by any series of nouns which attempt to put in extra synonyms, because we shall always leave out some set of circumstances which might conceivably arise. Therefore, the best thing to do is to accept the fact that when we find maladministration we shall recognise it even if we cannot define it in advance.

I should have thought that to add another phrase to the definition of the circumstances in which the Parliamentary Commissioner can act might have a confusing rather than a clarifying effect, because it would then appear that, on the one hand, there is maladministration, including all the plethora of circumstances which have been exemplified elsewhere, and on the other, a lack of good faith. I should think that if it could be spotted in time to appeal to the High Court, lack of good faith in itself would be a reason to ask the court to overturn the Minister's decision. I do not know what would have happened when Mr. Franklin sued the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, about the original Stevenage New Town. I understand fully and accept that the matter was done in the best of faith but, if it had been clear that the noble Lord had acted in bad faith, then I think that the court might have come to a decision other than the one it came to—but nothing of the kind happened. Here is where we impinge on the jurisdiction of the court itself, and I suspect that here we ought to be really careful.

Coming to the Amendment itself, I am sorry to see the end of the phrase "review by way of appeal", which at one stage I thought I had begun to understand. I hope that I am not going to add to the muddle about this by what I am going to say. But I would ask what is now going to happen. If there is no maladministration, in whatever form it may be defined, we cannot ask the Parliamentary Commissioner to consider the merits of a decision; but if there is maladministration, then not only that maladministration itself but also the decision that was reached by that means is open to being impugned. If that is so, as I think it is, we have an important clarification of this matter, which I do not think could have been immediately read out of the old Clause 5(4). It may well be that we have here the clearer statement of the matter which everybody was seeking at Second Reading.

I should like to make a suggestion to the noble and learned Lord. This is an important matter. It goes to the root of the whole relationship of the Parliamentary Commissioner to Government in all its forms. Is it not perhaps a pity to put in this declaratory subsection as part of the ragtag and bobtail of definitions in Clause 12? Does it not merit a clause of its own, with a separate side-note so that attention is attracted to it? I suggest that to the noble and learned Lord, because this is an important matter to which everybody's mind ought to be drawn.


First, as to Amendment No. 7, I agree with the construction given to it by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. As to the suggestion that it should be given a more prominent place, this is a matter of opinion and of presentation, but I will consider it before Third Reading.

All your Lordships must agree that my noble friend Lord Shackleton and I have leant over backwards to be as accommodating as possible so far this afternoon, but I am afraid that the limit of accommodation has been reached on the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, really for the reasons given by the noble Viscount. We have all agreed that maladministration is the widest possible word. It certainly includes bad faith and delay. I said on Second Reading that it covers negligence, ineptitude and dishonesty. These are things which everybody recognises. Maladministration is difficult to define, but I should like to make clear that it certainly includes bad faith.

If it is then said that, if we agree that it includes bad faith, what can be the harm in putting in the Bill, "in good faith", one difficulty at least is—I think that all lawyers, including the noble Viscount, would agree—that if we put in here "in good faith" the legal mind will then say, "Ah, ha! Maladministration does not include bad faith wherever else we find it, otherwise it would not have been necessary to put in the words 'in good faith' in this particular clause" That is the main reason why I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment.


I am not surprised to learn that the limit of the Government's accommodation has been reached and that this Amendment is not acceptable. My noble friend Lord Wade and I put it down only as a probing Amendment. We hoped it would draw from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor the kind of assurance that it has drawn, I am glad to say, and in these circumstances I am very happy to ask to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.