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Clause 1—(Special Register For War-Time Parliamentary Elections)

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, to leave out "as respects," and to insert "with regard to."

I consider that the expression "as respects" has no merit whatever. It appears no fewer than 14 times in the first 12 Clauses of this Bill, and it will be observed twice in the Preamble. If the Under-Secretary does not like the proposed alteration to the words "with regard to," may I suggest that the words "as to" should be inserted?

For many years past on repeated occasions I have put down this Amendment. So far I think this is the first time it has ever been called. We have suffered and are always suffering from the tyranny of phrases and slogans in this House, and there has been an extraordinary affection for many years on the part of the parliamentary draftsmen for this abominable expression "as respects." I remember a Clause in a Bill which began "as respects the roads as respects which", which I think was a trifle over the odds. In this case, if the Amendment does nothing else and is refused, I hope it will call the attention of the Parliamentary draftsmen, whose work I know is difficult, to the advisability of moving away from these clichés which are always inserted.

This Amendment is not one of very great importance so far as the contents of the Bill are concerned. I think that the justification for the words "as respects" as compared with the proposed Amendment are, broadly speaking, that it is better to have two words in an Act of Parliament rather than three, but I should like to consider the possible substitution of the words which the Mover of the Amendment suggested, but which he has not put on the Order Paper, the words "as to," and as the words are not on the Paper—

Would the right hon. Gentleman face the Chair?

I am speaking to my hon. Friends. I am not sure that the noble Lord will hear me any better if I face the Chair. I should like to consider the possible insertion of the words "as to," but as they have not been put on the Paper, I will consider them between now and the further stages of the Bill. I hope that, with that undertaking, the hon. and gallant Member will see his way to withdraw the Amendment.

I am very sorry; I could not catch my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.

I only suggested that the word "for," which is three letters and one word, might be suitable instead of as "respects."

In view of the undertaking, which I understand applies not only to this instance but where this expression appears in the Bill, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.