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Clause 4—(Transitional Provisions As To References In Acts, Etc)

Volume 465: debated on Monday 16 May 1949

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I beg to move, in page 4, line 26, to leave out from "subsection," to the end of the Clause.

It will be seen that subsection (4) concludes with a lengthy proviso, and, at the very end of it we have the words "… and so as respects other expressions." Although I may shock the right hon. and learned Attorney-General, the motive which prompts me to ask that they be omitted is that these words are gibberish and that it is impossible to attach any sense to them. That seems to me a good reason for striking them out, although the Attorney-General may think it is a good reason for leaving them in. I do not say that nothing is required in their place, but the Amendment which I now move is sufficient to express the view that they are gibberish, and I therefore propose their deletion.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is no doubt an expert on gibberish, but I must say the words fail to give me the difficulty which they appear to have given him. They are, I think, really incapable of misconstruction, and though they may be defective in point of grammar, I doubt whether they would lead any court to fail to give effect to them. But if the hon. and learned Gentleman takes a very strong view about this, I will, in order to show our sense of reasonableness and sense of accommodation, say that I am prepared, not to accept the Amendment in the form in which he has moved it, but to substitute another form of words. It is this:

"… and the same principle of construction shall be applied to other similar expressions."
If the hon. and learned Gentleman cares to withdraw his Amendment—because we must have some such form of words in this subsection—I accept the desire for alteration without for a moment conceding that the words are gibberish or that any court or other tribunal would have any difficulty in interpreting them.

I do not think that any schoolmaster, and here I should have the support of the Home Secretary, would say that these words can have any construction placed upon them; but if the right hon. and learned Attorney-General is prepared to substitute the words he has quoted, I shall move them after my Amendment has been carried.

Amendment agreed to.

1.0 a.m.

Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 26, after "subsection," insert:

"and the same principle of construction shall be applied to other similar expressions."—[Mr. H. Strauss.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.