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Clause 40—(Rules)

Volume 65: debated on Monday 20 July 1914

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The power of the Lord Chancellor to make rules under Section twenty-nine of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, shall extend to the making of rules for regulating the manner in which convictions and orders of Courts of Summary Jurisdiction are to be drawn up, and in such cases as may be provided for by the rules, the transmission of such convictions and orders and any other documents therewith to the clerk of the peace and the filing of them by him, and for regulating the procedure in legal proceedings which under any Act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act other than the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, are to be taken before any police or stipendiary magistrate or other Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

I beg, at the end of the Clause, to add—

"(2) His Majesty may, by Order in Council, make rules extending the operation of the Summary Jurisdiction (Process) Act, 1881, as amended by any subsequent enactment (which relates to the service and execution in Scotland of process issued by Courts of Summary jurisdiction and sheriff courts in Scotland, and to the jurisdiction of Courts in England and Scotland respectively in bastardy proceedings), so as to make the provisions of that Act, subject to the necessary adaptations, applicable as between any one part of the British Islands and any other part of the British Islands in like manner as it applies as between England and Scotland.
"This Sub-section shall extend to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and the Royal Courts of the Channel Islands shall register the same accordingly."

I wish to raise the question referred to in the last part of this new Sub-section that it shall apply to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and so on. It falls to my lot every year before the legal Gentlemen of this House to raise this point in one shape or another. I want to know by what right we are legislating here for the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands? It is an important point. I raised it on the Insurance Act. That Act does not apply to the Isle of Man. I pointed out that the approved societies of those friendly societies which were going to work the Act have branches at the Isle of Man, and that members spent a portion of the year at the Isle of Man, and so on. Mr. Speaker ruled out an Amendment, that the Insurance Act should apply to the Isle of Man on the ground that they were not represented in this House. In regard to other laws it is continually coming up that we apply some laws to the Isle of Man, and others we do not. With regard to education one of the Channel Islands is under certain education laws, and not the rest of them. I do not know what light can be thrown upon, this point upon this occasion, but I ask the Home Secretary if he knows what powers we have in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, seeing that they have no representatives in this House.

There is no other Parliament except this which has power to determine the considerable relations between Great Britain and the Isle of Man, and there will be no power in the House of Keys to give the jurisdiction under this Clause. I am advised that the Clause in its present form is strictly in order, and that we have the power to legislate in all matters relating to the mutual relations between the Isle of Man and the rest of the United Kingdom. This is one of the subject matters appropriate for legislation by this House, and I am advised that the course we are pursuing is strictly constitutional.

I do not remember a Clause like this ever being moved before without notice, and I do not remember any such Clause being made applicable to the Channel Islands. We have had this right asserted again and again in regard to the Isle of Man. That is undoubted and beyond all question, but this is in the nature of an enabling Clause. It does not enact directly but enables, and that may be some warrant for the Home Secretary's action. At the same time in regard to an ancient jurisdiction like that of the Channel Islands, I think we ought to proceed cautiously. It has always been assumed, when we have attempted to do this, that it was done with the assent of the Isle of Man Authority and the Legislature whose jurisdiction was affected. I do not know whether the Home Secretary thinks that this is a matter of sufficient importance to create a new precedent, and is ready to advise the House accordingly. This point, however, is of such serious importance from a contitutional point of view that I think we ought to thank the hon. Member for Pontefract for calling attention to it. I think the Government might postpone this matter, and if they find that they are strictly within precedent, let them move this change in another place. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quoted any precedents.

I think the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member is a very reasonable one. This Clause was introduced as the result of a pledge which I gave to the hon. Member for Ealing (Mr. Nield) in Committee, where we discussed this matter at some length. The constitutions I point is quite novel to me, and by leave of the hon. Member for Ealing I shall be willing to omit the last paragraph, and if I find that constitutionally there are ample and proper precedents for our action, I will introduce the words in another place.

I hope the Home Secretary will not think that I am wanting in courtesy if I say that I have already considered this difficulty, and discussed it in Committee, where I gave evidence from various societies who complained that they could not get orders or summonses for maintenance, for cruelty to animals, bastardy, and other charges, because the defendants went across to the Isle of Man to escape service, the Isle of Man not being within the United Kingdom for the purposes of process, and therefore these offenders were able to escape justice for a very considerable time, if not altogether. This made it so difficult for complainants to get justice that the remedy had to be given up. I hope that the Home Secretary, if he finds on the advice of the Law Officers that the constitutional question is not insuperable, will do his best to introduce those words. The law at present allows these people to escape process.

I understand that the whole difficulty raised by the hon. and learned Member for Cork refers only to the Channel Islands. Would it not meet the case to leave out "the Channel Islands"?

9.0 P.M.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out in the last paragraph the words "and the Channel Islands, and the Royal Courts of the Channel Islands, shall register the same accordingly."

Amendment to proposed Amendment, put, and agreed to.

Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.