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New Clause—(Application Of 56 & 57 Vict, C 61 To The Crown)

Volume 440: debated on Friday 25 July 1947

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The Public Authorities Protection Act, 1893, shall, in its application to any civil proceedings against the Crown, have effect as if in paragraph ( a) of Section one thereof for any reference to six months there were substituted a reference to twelve months.—[ The Lord Advocate.]

Question again proposed, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

When the Committee adjourned its discussions a fortnight ago I had just moved the Second Reading of the new Clause. In Scotland the period to which it refers is still six months, and it seems desirable that where we are dealing with the Crown the rules should be the same in both countries. For this reason I propose that it should be made one year in Scotland just as it is in England.

Although the Lord Advocate has dealt with this new Clause very briefly and has indicated that it is limited to Scotland, it is in fact, I submit, a general provision for all proceedings against the Crown in England and Wales as well as in Scotland. I understand that it means that proceedings against the Crown have to be brought within a period of 12 months, whereas otherwise—on the ground that the Crown is considered to be a public authority—they have to be brought within six months. I think that the effect of this Clause is to make 12 months the period for all actions against the Crown.

This new Clause is intended to go into the Scottish application part of the Bill. The rules of limitation in England are separately dealt with and this provision will apply merely to Scotland. Its only effect will be that, so far as Crown proceedings are concerned, the period will be a year, whereas at present it is six months in Scotland.

12.30 p.m.

I do not think the Committee should part with this new Clause without something being said by way of protest against the keeping alive of the provisions of the Public Authorities Protection Act. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who know something of the working of that Act regard it as one of the worst on the Statute Book. I am indeed sorry that the Government have not taken the opportunity, when amending Crown proceedings, to amend that Act. I hope the Government may deal as soon as possible with the manifest injustices that mar that Act.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.