HL Deb 09 January 1974 vol 348 cc599-601

My Lords, the Home Secretary's Statement in another place which followed the Proclamation that I have just read to your Lordships was in the following terms:

"With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a Statement. Under the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act 1920 the Proclamation made on 12th December will expire at midnight on Friday 11th January, together with the Regulations made in pursuance of that Proclamation. Since there has been no resolution of the disputes affecting the coal mines and the railways and since there is continuing uncertainty over oil supplies, the Government consider that it is necessary for the State of Emergency to be continued. Although the existing Regulations will not expire until midnight on Friday 11th January, in view of the recall of Parliament this week it seemed right and for the convenience of the House that there should be no uncertainty as to whether or not the State of Emergency would be extended. A further Proclamation and Emergency Regulations have therefore been made. The Regulations—to be known as the Emergency Regulations 1974—will be laid later this afternoon and copies will be available in the Vote Office. They will come into force at midnight on Friday.

"In accordance with the undertakings which I gave to the House last December, two major changes have been made in the new Regulations. The provisions in the old Regulations 21 and 22 relating to fuel, refinery products, electricity and gas have been omitted, because there are now sufficient powers under the Fuel and Electricity (Control) Act 1973. The second change is to the sabotage Regulation; Regulation 30 of the new Regulations has been redrafted to meet the point raised in the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and also in the debate on the last set of Regulations concerning the lawful nature of industrial action falling short of a strike.

"There is a minor change in Regulation 17(2) which is extended to cover the consumption of electricity elsewhere than on the premises of the consumer."

My Lords, that concludes the Home Secretary's Statement. Perhaps I might add that it is proposed that Motions concerning the Queen's Message and the Emergency Regulations should be tabled in your Lordships' House to-morrow for consideration at the conclusion of our two-day debate. In view of the fact that we shall have a long debate to-day—and it will continue to-morrow—on the whole emergency situation, I hope that noble Lords will agree that these Motions should be taken without further debate.


My Lords, we are much obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. Clearly we shall need to look at the Regulations, but certainly we shall in the circumstances wish to facilitate them. There will be opportunities, and perhaps Ministers will be ready to answer our questions if, when the noble Lord winds up the debate to-morrow night, any noble Lord wishes to raise a point on the Regulations.


My Lords, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches I wish to associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said. There is a question that we might like to ask, about the second change with regard to the sabotage Regulation.


My Lords, I shall be happy to answer any questions which may be raised in the course of the debate and which relate to the Emergency Regulations.


My Lords, this arrangement does not seem to me to be wholly satisfactory. The Regulations that are now to be published cover a number of points of detail. We cannot study the Regulations and the Amendments until they are laid. It seems to me to be asking rather a lot that at the conclusion of the present debate the Leader of the House should expect to move a Motion to adopt those Regulations without any further discussion. I, for one, would not want to prolong the discussion: but, at least as far as I am concerned. I must hold the right to ask questions on the Regulations about details which I certainly do not want to raise in the course of the general debate to-day.


My Lords, I am in the hands of the House. I am proposing to wind up the debate to-morrow, and I shall also be moving the Motions on the Emergency Regulations. I shall be here and in my place. I shall be briefed, and if there are any points which any noble Lord wishes to raise at that stage I shall be happy to reply.