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Clause 40—(Part-Time Service)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 31 May 1949

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I beg to move, in page 34, line 45, after "to," to insert:

"one half or, if and so far as that service took place before the passing of this Act."
This Amendment is consequential upon an Amendment to Clause 38 which we have not yet dealt with, but with which we shall deal on the Report stage. I ask the Committee to take the Amendment on trust until we reach that Amendment which I have no doubt will be debated.

As the right hon. Gentleman has said, this Amendment is consequential upon what the Government propose to do as regards Clause 38. When we reach Clause 38 on the Report stage we shall have some rather strong expressions to give vent to with regard to the attitude which the Government have taken upon this matter of unestablished service. At this stage, I only want to protect my position by saying that though we shall accept this Amendment without a Division, we object to the qualifying words:

"If and so far as that service took place before the passing of this Act."

I want to enter a similar qualification. I am prepared to agree to what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, but I understand that there will be an opportunity later to express our opinions about the question of part-time service.

I hope very much that when we come to Clause 38 the Government will either withdraw their proposed Amendment or that, if they do not, we shall soundly beat them in the Lobby. Suppose we do beat them in the Lobby on Clause 38, would the Government then agree that the Amendment which we are now asked to pass should be withdrawn and the terms of this Clause amended to conform with the terms of Clause 38 as it would then be?

Most certainly I give that assurance. Obviously what we do in this Clause must follow what we do in Clause 38, otherwise it makes nonsense of quite a lot of the Bill. I give an assurance that if any change is made in the Government proposal when we reach Clause 38, this will have to be amended again in another place in order to make it correspond.

I want to enter a similar caveat to that of my hon. Friend the Member for East Walthamstow (Mr. H. Wallace). There is an additional point about which the Financial Secretary might like to say a word. He will remember that during the Committee stage we discussed the rather unusual position of the assistant postmen in the Post Office whose service was whole-time and not part-time in the accepted sense of this Clause. There was some understanding that my right hon. Friend would look further into the matter to see how far assistant postman service could be counted as full-time rather than the half-time referred to in the Amendment. Has my right hon. Friend a statement to make on that?

Surely it would be much more convenient, Mr. Bowles, to leave the Amendment out and to let another place deal with it if it is necessary. It is highly probable that the Government will be defeated this afternoon on a subsequent Amendment and this one will then be unnecessary. It would be much more convenient to leave this out and then, in the unlikely event of the Government being victorious, it could be dealt with subsequently.

This is not a matter for an expression of opinion by the Chair. I have no views about the matter at all.

I think that that would be an unwise thing to do, and I ask the Committee to reflect before it takes that course. I have given an undertaking and I can assure the Committee that it will be honoured if any change is made when we reach Clause 38. It is much better that we should insert these words rather than leave them for another place. I do not know whether the question of privilege would arise in another place, and I am not quite sure of the powers of another place in this matter, although, of course, privilege could be waived if an Amendment was inserted, particularly if it was inserted at the request of the Government. However, I advise the Committee to deal with the matter here.

The suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) is the commonsense suggestion. On the other hand, whatever happens at the next stage, the inclusion of these words in the Bill will in all probability eventually improve the position. For that reason, although I dislike some of the words used by the Financial Secretary, for once I feel that we should accept what he advises, although it seems a pity that these things have to be taken in this sequence.

Amendment agreed to.

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