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First Schedule—(Additional Defence Regulations To Which Section One Of This Act Applies)

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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I beg to move, in page 7, leave out lines 9 to 10.

This deletes from the Schedule Regulations 5 and 8 of the Defence (Companies Regulation) Act of 1940. Regulation 5 relates to the registration in this country of companies incorporated in the Channel Islands; and Regulation 8 enables Northern Ireland companies to engage in the production and processing of flax. Therefore these Regulations will more properly be dealt with in the Bill which, as announced by the Home Secretary on Second Reading, is to be introduced to retain temporarily various miscellaneous Regulations which may be required after the expiry of the Emergency Powers Defence Act.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 7, leave out lines 15 and 16.

This deletes from the Schedule, Regulation 4 of the Defence (Functions of Ministers) Regulation, 1941. Regulation 4 transfers from the Forestry Commissioners to the Minister of Supply the general duty of promoting the production and supply of timber. This again may be more properly dealt with in the miscellaneous Bill which will be required on the expiry of the Emergency Powers Defence Act.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 7, leave out lines 19 to 22, and insert:

"The Defence (Recovery of Fines) Regulations, 1942. All Regulations in force at the said date. The Defence (Recovery of Fines) (Scotland) Regulations, 1942. All Regulations in force at the said date."
This Amendment involves the omission of certain patent regulations which will more conveniently be dealt with in the miscellaneous Bill in connection with the expiration of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act.

I have no desire at this late hour to delay proceedings on the Bill, but I would like to refer to the somewhat perfunctory way in which the Amendment was moved. I do not wish to be disrespectful to the hon. Gentleman or to the Committee, but he has not made very clear what the point of the Amend- ment to the Schedule is. I would like to ask him, of his legal knowledge, how this relates to the Kingdom of Scotland, which he has specifically mentioned in what he read out. May I ask him for a reply? I must press him on this point.

The Recovery of Fines Regulations provide for the collection of large fines which may be inflicted under the Defence Regulations connected with black market offences. The Regulation enabling these large fines to be incurred have to be retained as part of the mechanism of the economic control, and it follows that Recovery of Fines Regulations provided to deal more effectively than the existing law with persons who were engaged in black market activities must be retained. Without Regulations an offender can pocket his ill-gotten gains and serve a short term of imprisonment in lieu of payment of a fine imposed by the court.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Second Schedule.—( Provisions of Emergency Powers ( Defence) Act, 1939–1940, excepted from continuance under this Act.)

I beg to move, in page 7, line 39, column 2, at the end, to insert:

"Section five. The whole section (which does not relate to Defence Regulations)".
I can deal with this point quite shortly, but I think it is one that ought to be dealt with. When one compares this Bill with the Bill introduced previously one finds that there were three additions made by the Government to the old Bill and one deletion from the old Bill, and in my view, the old Bill being so very much better than the new Bill, I thought it right to ask the Government the reason why they have made this omission from the old Bill. The old Bill did contain a provision that Section 5 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, should be excepted from continuance. Now we find Section 5 is not excepted from continuance under this Act, so it means Section 5 will continue to operate. Section 5 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act dealt with the extra-territorial operation of Defence Regulations of certain Dominions territory, and refers to ships or aircraft registered in the Commonwealth or Dominion, and things of that sort. I am at a loss to know why the Government want to retain that Section in operation, unless it be that they indeed want their powers of control to be completely unlimited. I do hope we shall have an explanation of the alteration between this Bill and the last.

The matter referred to by my hon. Friend has only been omitted because of the change in the drafting of Clause 5 (2) and by reason of the change in drafting it becomes unnecessary to insert Section 5 in the Schedule. In the Schedule now, Section 5 of the 1939 Act empowers the Parliaments of Australia and New Zealand to pass Defence Regulations which will have extra-territorial effect and has nothing to do with Defence Regulations. Clause 5 (2a) of the Bill only applies the provision of the principal Act so far as applicable to Defence Regulations having effect by virtue of the Bill and subordinate instruments made under this Regulation. Section 5 of the 1939 Act cannot possibly be regarded as applicable to such Defence Regulations, so that it is not necessary. By virtue of this change in the drafting it becomes redundant to put into effect the hon. Member's amendment.

I am not sure I have been able to follow the extremely complicated explanation given by the hon. Gentleman opposite. It may be, perhaps, because of the long time we have been debating this matter to-day. When this Bill becomes an Act, if it becomes an Act, does Section 5 of the Emergency Powers Act, 1939, continue in force, or not? That is what I should like the hon. Gentleman to answer.

Yes, not coming within the exceptions, of course, it would continue to remain in force.

May I put one further question? What is the purpose of keeping Section 5 of this Act in force when it has nothing to do with the Defence Regulations made in this country?

We are not suggesting any alteration in the Statute as it now appears. If my hon. Friend requires Section 5 to be within the exceptions, I think his Amendment is misconceived.

I am afraid that I do not follow that argument at all. The second Schedule is headed

"Provisions of Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, excepted from continuance under this Act"
and the one Section which was excepted from the second Schedule to the old Bill which is not excepted from continuance under this Bill is Section 5, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to explain why he wants Section 5 of the 1939 Act kept in force when it has nothing to do with the Defence Regulation made under this Act. Is it just the desire of the Government to make these Acts as complicated as possible and to keep in force Sections of other Statutes which have no relation to the subject matter of the Act? I would ask my hon. Friend to answer that question.

It is difficult to comply with that request for this reason: that if an explanation is given to my hon. Friend he complains about its being complicated. The only explanation which can he given of this Sub-section is a complicated one. For his express benefit I will read the Clause which matters: Clause 5 (2) says:

"If the principal Acts expire while this Act is in force—
(a) the provisions of those Acts, except the provisions, specified in the Second Schedule to this Act, shall, notwithstanding their expiry for all other purposes, continue to apply (so far as applicable) while this Act is in force to any Defence Regulation having effect by virtue of this Act, any order or other instrument made under any such Regulation and any scheme of control contained in or authorised by any such Regulation."
Now that makes it quite clear. [Laughter.] At any rate it has made it clear to the hon. Member, who having read the paragraph ventures to draft an Amendment and to submit it for the consideration of the Committee. It is true that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) may have had difficulties in understanding this matter but his learned friend who has written up the Amendment and submitted it has no difficulty in understanding the implications of it.

11.45 p.m.

Since the hon. Gentleman has appealed to me, may I say that I do find something difficult and I cannot help saying I am perhaps not the only one on this occasion. The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) put a very small question to the hon. Gentleman opposite. He said, "Does this Section still apply?" and the hon. Gentleman opposite said, "It does." Lest there be any doubt as to which Section I refer to, it is Section 5 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939. It refers to extra-territorial operations of Defence Legislation in certain Dominions, etc., and goes on for a page and a quarter of legislative print

Now my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry asked this very simple question, whether that rather lengthy Section still applies, and the answer the hon. Gentleman gave was yes, it did. Then he went on to say that it is all explained in Clause 5 (2) of this Bill. Now Clause 5 (2), which makes it so plain to everybody except me, is that certain provisions of those Acts shall continue to apply so far as applicable and the express statement the hon. Gentleman made was that obviously they were not applicable. In one breath he seems to say that this Section does apply, and in the next phrase he says it is obvious to everybody that they are not applicable. It may be that all this is very plain, but I venture to think that the hon. Gentleman was not justified in pillorying me as the only hon. Member who did not understand it. I venture to suggest that if in the serried ranks I see around me a straight question was put, "Do you understand the question put by the Under Secretary?" most hon. Members would find themselves in the same difficulty as myself. Indeed this is not a party question. I do suggest that if we are to understand the legislation we are asked to pass we should be afforded by the Government slightly more lucid explanations than those which have been read out from a previously prepared brief by the hon. Gentleman.

Amendment negatived.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday, and to be printed. [Bill 14.]