HL Deb 08 April 1971 vol 317 cc412-27

After Clause 7, insert the following new clause:

Shipping casualties

".—(1) The powers conferred by this section shall be exercisable where—

  1. (a) an accident has occurred to or in a ship, and
  2. (b) in the opinion of the Secretary of State oil from the ship will or may cause pollution on a large scale in the United Kingdom or in the waters in or adjacent to the United Kingdom up to the seaward limits of territorial waters, and
  3. (c) in the opinion of the Secretary of State the use of the powers conferred by this section is urgently needed.

(2) For the purpose of preventing or reducing oil pollution, or the risk of oil pollution, the Secretary of State may give directions as respects the ship or its cargo—

  1. (a) to the owner of the ship, or to any person in possession of the ship, or
  2. (b) to the master of the ship, or
  3. (c) to any salvor in possession of the ship, or to any person who is the servant or agent of any salvor in possession of the ship, and who is in charge of the salvage operation.

(3) Directions under subsection (2) above may require the person to whom they are given to take, or refrain from taking, any action of any kind whatsoever, and without prejudice to the generality of the preceding provisions of this subsection the directions may require—

  1. (a) that the ship is to be, or is not to be, moved, or is to be moved to a specified place, or is to be removed from a specified area or locality, or
  2. (b) that the ship is not to be moved to a specified place or area, or over a specified route, or
  3. (c) that any oil or other cargo is to be, or is not to be, unloaded or discharged, or
  4. (d) that specified salvage measures are to be, or are not to be, taken.

(4) If in the opinion of the Secretary of State the powers conferred by subsection (2) above are. or have proved to be, inadequate for the purpose, the Secretary of State may, for the purpose of preventing or reducing oil pollution, or the risk of oil pollution, take. as respects the ship or its cargo, any action of any kind whatsoever, and without prejudice to the generality of the preceding provisions of this subsection the Secretary of State may—

  1. (a) take any such action as he has power to require to be taken by a direction under this section,
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  3. (b) undertake operations for the sinking or destruction of the ship, or any part of it, of a kind which is not within the means of any person to whom he can give directions,
  4. (c) undertake operations which involve the taking over of control of the ship.

(5) The powers of the Secretary of State under subsection (4) above shall also be exercisable by such persons as may be authorised in that behalf by the Secretary of State.

(6) Every person concerned with compliance with directions given, or with action, taken, under this section shall use his best endeavours to avoid any risk to human life.

(7) If the person to whom a direction is duly given under this section contravenes, or fails to comply with, any requirement of the direction, he shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

(8) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (7) above, it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he has used all clue diligence to ensure compliance with the direction or that he had reasonable cause for believing that compliance with the direction would have involved a serious risk to human life.

(9) If a person wilfully obstructs any person who is acting in compliance with a direction under this section, or who is acting under subsection (4) or (5) of this section, the first mentioned person shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

(10) No direction under this section shall apply to a ship—

  1. (a) which is not a ship registered in the United Kingdom, and
  2. (b) which is for the time being outside the territorial waters of the United Kingdom, and no action shall be taken under subsection (4) or (5) above as respects any such ship.
  3. (11) No direction tinder this section shall apply to any vessel of Her Majesty's Navy, or to any Government ship, and no action stall be taken under subsection (4) or (5) above as respects any such vessel or ship.

In this subsection "Government ship" has the same meaning as in section 80 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1906.

(12) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

  1. (a) on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50,000,
  2. (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine.

(13) The provisions of this section are without prejudice to any rights or powers of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom exercisable apart from this section whether under international law or otherwise.

(14) Schedule (shipping casualties) to this Act shall have effect for supplementing this section and this section is in that Schedule referred to as "the principal section".

(15) In this section, unless the context otherwise requires—

"accident" includes the loss, stranding, abandonment of or damage to a ship, "specified", in relation to a direction under this section, means specified by the direction.

The Commons agreed to the above Amendment but proposed the following Amendment thereto:—

Line 69, leave out subsection (10) and insert

(10) Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide that this section and Schedule (shipping casualties) to this Act, together with any other provisions of this Act, shall apply to a ship

  1. (a)which is not a ship registered in the United Kingdom, and
  2. (b)which is for the time being outside the territorial waters of the United Kingdom,

in such cases and circumstances as may be specified in the Order, and subject to such exceptions, adaptations and modifications, if any, as may be so specified.

An Order in Council under this subsection may contain such transitional and other consequential provisions as appear to Her Majesty to be expedient.

(10A)Except as provided by an Order in Council under subsection (10) above, no direction under this section shall apply to a ship which is not registered in the United Kingdom and which is for the time being outside the territorial waters of the United Kingdom, and no action shall be taken tinder subsection (4) or (5) above as respects any such ship.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House agrees with the Commons in their Amendment to the Lords Amendment. I should say, first of all, that in view of the short notice we have had of the debate on this Amendment to one of our Amendments, if any noble Lord objects I shall not have any hesitation in moving that the debate be adjourned. On the other hand, we have the situation that the "Panther" case has illustrated that, although we have powers under international law to deal with accidents and the aftermath of accidents on the high seas involving foreign ships outside, our jurisdiction—a point that I stressed during the debate—when an episode occurs, as it did on the Goodwin Sands, just outside our territorial waters but in waters which affect and threaten pollution on our beaches, our own legislation, which we have introduced in this Bill, would be much more apt for the purpose than the powers we have to act under international law.

The purpose of this Amendment therefore, as I think the House will agree, is a worthwhile one. It is to ensure beyond all doubt that the Government will have power to deal with foreign ships which may meet with an accident and give rise to the danger of oil pollution of our waters and beaches from a point just outside our own territorial waters. We should not want any shadow of doubt to remain that we lack powers to deal with any future cases similar to that of the "Panther". Accordingly, the Amendment would enable an Order in Council to be made authorising the Secretary of State to give directions and to take action in such cases. The new subsection which is introduced by this Amendment will enable Her Majesty, by Order in Council, to apply all or any of the provisions of the new clause (the one we introduced) and related Schedule to ships on the high seas which are not registered in the United Kingdom. The Order can be made to apply to these ships in such cases and circumstances as may be specified in the Order. For example, it could in the light of experience be applied to oil tankers of a certain size, or in specified areas such as the English Channel. I should stress that it is these particular areas that are in mind and not some area right out in the middle of the Atlantic.

The new clause in its entirety may not be suitable for application to foreign ships on the high seas; for instance, the application of criminal penalties in subsections (7), (9) and (12). The new subsection enables the Order to make the application subject to exception, adaption and modification. There is a wide degree of very necessary flexibility. By virtue of Section 22 of the Oil in Navigable Waters Act 1955, with which this Bill will be construed as one, the Order will be subject to the annulment procedure. Perhaps I should stress here that this means that the Order in Council will not come into force without there being an opportunity of further debate in both Houses of Parliament, and this may be some reassurance to noble Lords who may very properly be anxious that we are taking too big a step here with too little consideration. I hope, with that explanation and this reassurance, the Amendment will commend itself to the House as a measure enabling us to deal with the type of situation with which we have been confronted in the past two days. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Sandford.)

11.23 a.m.


My Lords, the Government are being overtaken by events in this field. We had the pile-up of three ships in the Channel several weeks ago during the passage of this Bill through our House. Amendments were made to the Bill to take account of that situation. We then had the "Panther" incident and Amendments were made to the Bill at about one o'clock this morning in the other place to take account of that situation. Oil slicks are all over the Channel; they come from God knows where, because there is no procedure for finding out, and they will hit the beaches. Month after month this situation continues of accidents, panic reaction and panic legislation. I think the whole House will agree that it is extraordinary that the freedom of the seas should be abolished in the other place at I am on a certain day and the House of Lords should be invited to endorse that at half-past-eleven on the same day. I am not going to claim that this is intolerable from the legislative point of view, because we on this side of the House appreciate the extraordinary urgency and swiftness with which the situation develops.

But there is one aspect of the matter which I cannot forbear from drawing attention to. On Third Reading of this Bill I put down an Amendment to delete the very section which has now been deleted in the other place. That was the section which said: "O.K.; the Government can order ships around in British territorial waters, but they cannot order ships around on the high seas." I moved to delete that section because I believed that the Government should have power to order ships around on the high seas. In col. 1194 of Hansard on February 25 I said: …although the Secretary of State may give these orders about British ships anywhere, and British ships in territorial waters and foreign ships in British territorial waters, he may not give them about foreign ships on the high seas. It may be that this is specifically set out in this way…because it is not necessary to write it into the Bill. I ask the noble Lord to let the House know whether that is so, and if so, whether he can say that the Secretary of State already has precisely equivalent powers over foreign ships on the high seas to those which he now proposes to assume over British ships on the high seas. In col. 1195 the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, answered me:

"My Lords, I certainly can give those assurances, …".

He pointed out that one subsection of the Bill as it was before us excluded foreign ships on the high seas, and he said that this was because the procedure in the 1969 Convention relating to oil polution authorised governmental action, where there was a threat of oil pollution on a large scale. In other words, he said that you do not need to delete this saving provision for the high seas because the Government already have power over the high seas. I accepted that assurance and withdrew my Amendment to delete the saving provision. We now find, six weeks later, that the noble Lord was wrong about this and the Government did not have powers, as we on this side thought they should have, with the result that they have to assume powers on Commons' consideration of Lords Amendments and the House is invited to endorse the assumption of those powers on Lords' consideration of Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments to the Bill. An odd way indeed to proceed!

I have certain questions on the details of this Amendment. It all rests on an Order in Council. My first question is: does there have to be an Order in Council for each separate exercise of power? That is to say, if there is an accident on the high seas and the Government wish to direct the ship or the owners, or the salvor, what they ought to do, do they have to convene a Privy Council meeting, or meeting of three Privy Counsellors at dead of night, to get the precise power to do it? Or are we talking about blanket Orders in Council? If so what is the nature of the blanket? Will it cover certain types of accident? Will it cover certain areas of the high seas? Will it cover certain parties who may be ordered about as to certain other parties who may rot? What does the Order in Council mean?

Secondly, and more important, am I right in thinking that the Government have still not taken powers to order ships about before there is an accident? Is it not the case that now if you have a collision the British Government may step forth, wherever you are, provided that collision may cause oil pollution on British Government shores, and order you to do this, that or the other but if you are steaming in the wrong direction without any lights and, to the knowledge of the British Government, without any communication equipment, if you are going straight into the traffic, if you are heading for a pile-up of wrecks, if you are heading straight for a sandbank, so long as you have not yet had an accident the Government have no power to do anything about it at all? Is that correct? If so, how long is it going to remain correct?

May we hope that after the Recess, whatever happens to this Bill now, we shall have a full Statement in either or both Houses of Parliament about what the Government are donig in the long run and in overall about the fact that the narrows between this Island and the Continent of Europe are now a regular accident black spot? Although it is very good to have powers to clean up after an accident, it is better to have powers to prevent the accident. What consultations will the Government have with Governments on the other shores? What instant international instrument will they propose to take what is, in effect, no more than civilised control over the dangerous operations to commerce going up and down those narrow seas?

11.30 a.m.


My Lords, far be it from us on these Benches to hold up in any way reform of the accident black spot in the Channel or anything that might help to prevent the pollution of our beaches. But I must say that we did—certainly I did—share the surprise apparently felt by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, that we should, at five minutes' notice, just before proceeding on holiday, be asked, in effect, to abolish the freedom of the seas. In this Commons Amendment there seems indeed to be a slight element of panic legislation, to say nothing else. After all, what is proposed is to take by Order in Council complete powers to divert, fine, or even blow up and destroy a foreign vessel, shall we say belonging to the Soviet Union or the United States, in any circumstances when we think it is a danger to our beaches, or for any other reason, so far as one can make out. It is to be done by Order in Council, at a moment's notice. Surely that is taking vast powers.

Now I would not for a moment suggest that the Order in Council would be likely to be abused by Her Majesty's Government. Theoretically under this Amendment they could send a frigate to the Straits of Malacca and blow up a Chinese ship, or even send a vessel into New York Harbour and sink it, if that were desired, under an Order in Council. Of course, Her Majesty's Government are not as mad as that and they will undoubtedly apply this provision properly; I would not deny that for a moment. But if they applied it in certain circumstances it might give rise to considerable international complications, unless presumably they have made approaches to our foreign friends and have told them what they are likely to do.

Therefore I should have thought there was a strong case for at any rate postponing consideration of this matter until after the holiday, and perhaps thinking again. There are surely other means of accomplishing what we want. Why cannot we, for instance, have this power by Order operative within only certain limits—shall we say, 20 miles of the coasts? That would make it less frightening, presumably, for foreigners even if they are careering up and down the Channel without lights. It would in any case make foreign Governments more conscious of the reasonableness of what is proposed by Her Majesty's Government. I cannot really believe that there is very great likelihood of another "Panther" grounding in the Channel during the ten days when we are away from Westminster. I really should have thought we could hold up this matter and think about it during the holidays, and pass the necessary legislation when we come back, perhaps as amended by us once again at the end of the month.


My Lords, may I follow up what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn? I do not want to postpone a decision on this matter. The situation in the Channel and in the South Coast towns is now quite intolerable. The jamming of ships, the sinking of ships, the danger of loss of life, the appalling disturbance on the beaches of the South and of thousands of holidaymakers, demand action. I should however like to put one question to the Minister. This action intervenes in issues of international law. We are taking steps that interfere with the right of ships of other nations on the High Seas. If we obtain consent to these measures, will the Government take action to raise this issue in the appropriate international agency which controls these matters?—because it would be disastrous for our international reputation if we took unilateral steps on these lines unless also we were raising in the relevant international agency reconsideration of the international law which covers these matters.


My Lords, I should like to say, without unduly lengthening this debate, that I hope this Amendment will go through. We have a very serious situation which calls for regulation. There have been a great many accidents this summer, and something must be done about the situation. But I agree with previous speakers, that this is going to precipitate a somewhat new international situation. I am sure that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will take appropriate measures to deal with it. It seems to me that this is essentially a question where the neighbouring and what one might call the riparian States—that is, France, Belgium and Holland—are equally vitally concerned and where other nations with large commercial fleets (I am thinking of Norway and Germany and perhaps Sweden and Denmark in the first instance) are all bound to be vitally interested. The Channel is their main thoroughfare. I should have thought that if we pass this Bill with the Commons Amendment this will, with any luck, give Her Majesty's Government a lever with which they will be able to make representations to these other Powers and get them to join us in producing a proper regulation.

I think the time has passed when we can hope to have this question dealt with piecemeal. It is time to think of a proper system of traffic regulation. I should have thought there might be an agreed system for helicopter inspection, to see whether anybody was pumping out oil in the Channel, and that if such a case was found the ship could be prosecuted when it came into port. I should have thought there was a very good case for destroying wrecks, as is proposed, but may I point out that if you destroy a wreck which contains oil you are bound to produce serious pollution; and the danger to shipping has to be balanced to some degree against the danger to marine life and holiday resorts and ordinary life. I hope that the Government will be extremely careful before they order the destruction of more wrecks. I cannot help a suspicion that some of the oil now in the enormous slick in the Channel may have come from some of the wrecks which have been destroyed or run into.

When we think about a new arrangement for this area there surely ought to be a system of international traffic police; and ships which have not got radar operating—as seems to have been the case with the "Panther"; and I believe it was the case with one of the other ships involved in an accident this summer—perhaps ought to be obliged to take a pilot. I do not know whether a pilot is altogether necessary, but certainly if a ship has not radar it is, I suggest, more necessary that it should have a pilot.

I therefore hope, my Lords, that we shall pass this Amendment, and that the Government will regard this as a starting point for taking serious action to introduce a new international convention for this area; that the riparian States which are most closely concerned, including the ones I have mentioned, will be invited to participate with us in organising this action. And of course, as a general interference with existing law on the High Seas is involved, the Government will no doubt then wish to get those Governments to be associated with us in trying to obtain agreement on a general international convention on this subject.

11.39 a.m.


My Lords, I wonder whether I might intervene at this moment to say that if the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, after the remarks that have been made, sustains his objection to taking this Amendment at this particular moment, there is nothing more to be said, and I will stick to my promise to adjourn the debate. But may I also say that I am happy to deal with the points of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and I am reasonably satisfied that I shall be able to reassure your Lordships on those particular points. I take the point which has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and I believe on balance there is a great deal to be said for accepting this Amendment now. I should like to know what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, feels about it.


My Lords, having heard what has been said, I still think that, in view of possible international complications and the rather remote danger of some major incident occurring in the Channel during the next ten days, it would be wiser to adjourn the debate. But I should like to hear the reply of the noble Lord to what has been said, because I think it would at least give us something to reflect on during the Recess.


My Lords, surely the international complications cannot arise until there is an incident, or until the Order in Council has been passed and some action has been proposed. I should have thought that if the Amendment were passed now there would be adequate time for consultation afterwards; because obviously there will not be much consultation before.


That is so, my Lords, and the point I made in my opening remarks is that an Order in Council will be subject to Negative Resolution, and both Houses of Parliament will have an opportunity to debate such an Order in Council. There are other things that I could say by way of reassurance, but I did not want to prolong the debate if, despite anything I said, the noble Lord. Lord Gladwyn, indicated that he proposed to sustain his objection.


My Lords, at the cost of being somewhat disorderly in debate—I do not know whether we are allowed to speak two or three times—




Then, with the leave of the House, my Lords, may I say that I hope it may do something to calm the apprehensions of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—which I think are extremely well-founded—if I remind the House that this is exactly what the Canadian Government did. They passed legislation taking very far-reaching powers to order ships around on the high seas. It was delegated legislation, and under it they have to present each Order to Parliament, and each Order is debated. I remember that at the time many voices in this country were raised in alarm against the Canadian legislation, but I think that it is working out fairly well, and it may be that if we follow that precedent we shall maintain Parliamentary control over details in a satisfactory way.


My Lords, I should, of course, like to see the powers of our Government strengthened in this matter, and strengthened quickly. But I have had so much to do with international shipping that I feel we ought to give great consideration to the possible reactions on our own shipping interest if we take this action without any form of consultation or warning. I do not want to put an inconvenient question, but I was going to ask the Minister whether he has had time to sound our own Chamber of Shipping, who are well able to inform the Government as to the probable reactions and difficulties which may occur if we proceed now, as personally I should like to do. I am sure the House realises that it is not only a question of what some hostile or unfriendly foreign Power may say, but of how the shipowners of the world will react if we take these rather drastic steps. Perhaps the right solution would be to recover the Goodwin Sands and add them to the County of Kent.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, meant to say that the Order in Council would be subject to an Affirmative Resolution which would require the approval of both Houses of Parliament.


My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to speak again to this Motion and to deal with the number of points which your Lordships have very properly raised. The first is the question from the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, as to what form this Order in Council would take. It is certainly envisaged that we should not wait until an accident occurred and then take the powers to deal with it, but that the Order in Council would be designed to cover particular areas, such as the Goodwin Sands, so that the powers were available when an incident occurred (as several have done) in that kind of area. It is this point that I think served to allay the fears of noble Lords who feel that we are at one stroke abolishing the freedom of the high seas. If I may say so, I think the Amendment that the noble Lord. Lord Kennet, was urging at Third Reading would have had that effect, because it would have imported into the Bill powers which would have applied all over the world, from the Malacca Straits.


My Lords, I must correct the noble Lord. I would not have imported anything into the Bill; I put down a probing Amendment, seeking assurances from the noble Lord. The noble Lord gave me assurances which satisfied me but which I now find are invalid. If at the time the assurances given by the noble Lord had not satisfied me the way would have been open to put down a reasoned and considered Amendment.


My Lords, does not the present House of Commons Amendment extend the potential powers of Her Majesty's Government effectively all over the world?


My Lords, only in the wildest theoretical sense. The Order in Council is subject to Parliamentary control and, as I explained to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in our original debates, we have similar, although not identical, powers under international law which would be appropriate in much wider open spaces of the seas—the high seas—in the sense of somewhere out in the middle of the Atlantic. But I am sure the noble Lord will agree that the Goodwin Sands are a rather special case. We have there considerable shipping, congestion, which is what causes the trouble; it is only just outside territorial waters and any accident there is an immediate threat to our beaches. That is the problem we are facing. This particular Amendment is designed to enable us to extend the legislation which we have taken in the Bill, which is more apt for these particular kinds of accidents and these particular situations, so that we can deal with them.

This discussion raises the whole question of traffic control in the Channel, and if it were not for other things pressing on your Lordships' time I could at this particular moment give a very full statement as to what the Government are doing in that respect. The Government have been by no means idle, but I do not think it is strictly relevant to the Motion now before the House. On the other hand, it is important that traffic control should be considered, and we might perhaps have a debate on that subject on some other occasion.

The noble Lord, Lord Hurcomb, asked me about the Chamber of Shipping. I cannot say that there has been consultation with our own Chamber of Shipping, or with any other international organisations concerned here; but there would be further consultation before the Order in Council was made if opportunity provides—as we hope it will, because we hope that there will not he another pressing incident of this kind in the next few weeks. But I submit to your Lordships that, with the "Panther" case right before us, this opportunity not to take the powers but to provide for the powers to be taken, is one which in the circumstances it would be wiser to take rather than to lose.

For that reason, while very much welcoming this debate, and particularly appreciating the anxiety of noble Lords about taking this rather big step without the full consideration that perhaps we should have given it if all the circumstances had been different, I would commend the Amendment to your Lordships.


My Lords, would the noble Lord reply to the question I put to him?


My Lords, was there any further question put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, over and above the control of traffic in the Channel, which I hope I have dealt with adequately?


My Lords, the question was whether in view of the fact that this relates to international law, the Government would give us an assurance that if they got this Amendment they would immediately raise at the appropriate international agency the issues which are involved.


My Lords, we are already in touch and are in the middle of negotiations with IMCO on the whole range of these problems. I can certainly give the noble Lord that assurance, because discussions are already going on.

11.50 a.m.


My Lords, there is one question which remains unanswered in our minds. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said that the Orders in Council we are talking about would be subject to Negative Resolution. The Lord Chairman of Committees said subject to Affirmative Resolution. I think the conflict of opinion remains unresolved. Is it possible to go any further?


My Lords, may I read again what I said in my opening remarks on this matter? By virtue of Section 22 of the Oil in Navigable Waters Act 1955, with which this Bill will be construed as one, the Order will be subject to the annulment procedure.


My Lords, could the noble Lord, before we proceed, deal with that part of Lord Hurcomb's representations which I think he left unanswered? Can he assure the House that there will not arise those misapprehensions on the part of the international shipping community which would cause serious action to be taken against our interests?


My Lords, if, with the leave of the House, I may continue, I think it is difficult to give that assurance. It is certainly one on which we spent a great deal of time, and properly so, during the discussion of the Bill. I urged it myself. We are here creating legislation which may well be followed by other nations seeking to protect their own territorial waters and their own beaches. We have to be careful, therefore, that we are not importing into our own legislation powers which could be damaging to our own merchant marine. This is a difficult balance to sustain. I believe that we have got the balance right. But I cannot, of course, speak from this Box about what other nations will do in their own legislation and how they will apply it. I do not see how I can give the assurance asked for. It is certainly something we have had in mind and it was causing concern to our own merchant marine. I think we have given it full weight and tried to strike the right balance. As I say, I believe that we have got it right.


My Lords, I find it very difficult to understand why this matter is being put before your Lordships to-day at all. As I now understand it, this cannot be put into operation save by Order in Council, and not until sufficient time has elapsed to ensure that no action under the Negative Resolution procedure can be taken in this or another House. If I am wrong in that assumption, perhaps the noble Lord will interrupt me now, and I will not detain your Lordships any longer. But I think that is correct. We are having a very short Recess. This Business has been put on the Order Paper without any notice at all. If we put it off until after the Recess, I cannot see that it could make any conceivable difference if any other such instance like the "Panther" were to occur, because a period would have to elapse to give this House and the other place the opportunity to put down a Motion against whatever Order in Council was made. It seems to me, therefore, that we are being unduly hurried for no reason whatsoever.


My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend is in fact guiding the House correctly—I speak with great respect. My understanding is that it is possible to lay an Order which will come into force forthwith, though it may be cancelled by an adverse vote in either House within 40 days. I would certainly think that should an emergency occur we should be speeding up the possible action that the Government could take by agreeing to this Commons Amendment to-day, and that, if we did not agree to it, we should be delaying the action the Government could take.


My Lords, I have delayed your Lordships unnecessarily, and I apologise.


My Lords, I can speak again only with leave, but I would apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, for misunderstanding what he said about the form of Order proposed in the Amendment, and thank him for making it clear to the House that what he is proposing is an Order subject to annulment and not to Affirmative Resolution.

On Question, Motion agreed to.