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Statutory Instrument No 1184

Volume 478: debated on Wednesday 25 October 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will identify the statutory power under which S. I., 1950, No. 1184, has been given retrospective effect.

The Order in Council was made under the British Settlements Acts, 1887 and 1945. Although there is no statutory provision expressly providing for such orders to be given retrospective effect, I am advised that they may lawfully be made to operate retrospectively, and that the power to give similar retrospective operation to colonial constitutional instruments, which has from time to time been exercised, has hitherto not been called in question.

Has the Minister observed the provisions of the Treasury Circular of 21st June, 1946, in which the opinion of the Law Officers is stated, and which proceeds to instruct Departments to see that subordinate legislation is not made with retrospective effect unless there is clear authority so to make it under the Act under which it is made?

I can only say that I have gone into this matter very carefully with my legal advisers, and I am advised that what we have done is quite legal. I will, however, look into the point arising out of the document which has been raised by the hon. Member.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say where, according to the advice which he has received, the authority to make this Order retrospective is to be found?

I understand that it is founded largely upon precedent, and I think there is some evidence of several cases in the courts.

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I could not hear what the right hon. Gentleman said. As the Question has been down on the Order Paper for at least a month should not the Minister be in a position to give us a carefully considered answer?

The answer I have given is that I am legally advised that what we have done is perfectly right.

Could the right hon. Gentleman place a copy of that opinion in the Library, so that hon. Members may consider it?