HL Deb 03 May 1973 vol 342 cc187-9

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor who is sitting judicially, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill is one of a regular series of measures which aim to tidy up the Statute Book by repealing obsolete, unnecessary or superseded enactments. It extends only to Northern Ireland, and your Lordships may be wondering why it is in the form of a Bill rather than an Order in Council under the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972, as has been the practice over the last year regarding measures concerning matters which were within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Parliament. Although this could have been done, there would have been a great deal of detail involved, and it was thought that the Order in Council procedure was not altogether the most suitable for legislative activity of this kind. A more satisfactory alternative was to make use of the existing machinery which applied to normal Westminster Statute Law Revision Bills. If your Lordships agree to give this Bill a Second Reading the result will be, therefore, that the Bill will be considered in detail by the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. This Committee has the legal expertise to give the measure the kind of close and detailed examination which it merits, but which it could not receive under the Order in Council procedure. Officials can be questioned by Members of the Joint Committee and a Report is then laid before your Lordships in the usual way.

I will not take up the time of your Lordships' House by mentioning all the enactments which are repealed by the Bill, particularly since the list begins with a Statute of Henry III in the year 1246. Part I of the Schedule lists enactments of the Parliaments of England and of the United Kingdom before 1920 which are being repealed in their application to Northern Ireland. Four whole Acts and parts of 18 other Acts of the Parliaments of England and the United Kingdom are included in Part I. Part II of the Schedule proposes the repeal of 77 whole Acts and parts of 143 other Acts of the Parliaments of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There is also a mistake in an Act of 1971 (the Civil Evidence Act (Northern Ireland)) which will be corrected by Clause 2 of the present Bill. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a;.—(Lord Windlesham.)


My Lords, the Government are of course absolutely right to proceed by Act of Parliament. It would be intolerable if we were by Order to cancel any Bill. It is almost impossible—and I am sure the noble Lord would not welcome it—to start querying this enormous list. Therefore it is satisfactory that it will be closely examined by the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills. I would make only one point. No doubt the Committee will examine, in regard to the revision and the repeal of other ancient Statutes which have already taken place in the United Kingdom, that in so far as those revisions did not extend to Northern Ireland and are therefore reflected in this Act, that the Committee will precisely follow the usual practice. I should be extremely sorry if the Bill which dealt with Royal fish, which caused some commotion in your Lordships' House, should be overlooked, and that whales, if stranded in Northern Ireland, will still remain the property of the Crown.

On Question, Bill read 2a;, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.