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Short Title, Citation, Commencement And Extent

Volume 22: debated on Friday 30 April 1982

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move amendment No. 21, in page 7, line 20, after 'Cinematograph', insert `(Amendment)'.

With this we may take the following amendments: No. 25, in schedule 1, page 8, line 25, after 'Cinematograph', insert '(Amendment)'.

No. 28, in schedule 1, page 9, line 8, after 'Cinematograph', insert `(Amendment)'.

No. 29, in schedule 1, page 9, line 13, after `Cinematograph', insert `(Amendment)'.

These amendments seek to alter the short title of the Bill to "Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill". The purpose is to reserve the title "Cinematograph Act 1982" for the consolidation measure which, as has been explained, it is hoped will be introduced early next Session. As consolidation Bills simply re-enact existing legislation, in substance if not in precisely the same form, they go through a special parliamentary procedure. I understand that the consolidation measure, if introduced early next Session, could become law this year. Therefore, it would be sensible to reserve the title "Cinematograph Act 1982" for that measure. Although the measure looks as though it has only a short independent life before it, I readily commend the amendment, which will facilitate its demise.

1.45 pm

I am not sure whether to support the amendments. I shall gladly do so if we can have an assurance from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State that the Government intend to introduce a consolidation measure early in the next Session. However, if that is not the case, I believe that the Bill should retain the title that it carried when it was printed on 2 December and should have its full title in its own right, as did the 1909 and 1952 Acts.

I am anxious to hear what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State has to say and I shall be glad if he will tell us whether he thinks that the consolidation Bill will be through both Houses by Christmas. If not, it will become the Cinematograph Act 1983. Unless I can have an assurance from my right hon. Friend, I shall be inclined to vote against the amendments.

I hope that when the consolidation measure is introduced the word "Cinematograph" will not appear in the title. I heard suggestions earlier that filled me with horror and were not accurate in their description of what they sought to describe, but there is an old-fashioned ring to the word "cinematograph". However, if the promoter of the Bill is satisfied with the amendment I shall not seek to stand in his way.

It is a bit much for the hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons), representing the SDP—much the most polysyllabic of our political parties—to complain about the simple phrase "Cinematograph Bill". We discussed the terminology earlier and I have nothing to add to what was said then.

Today's debates have been marked by a high degree of consensus. The Bill and the amendments have not come under attack, but I suppose that it was inevitable that my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor), who is not renowned for supporting consensus politics, would threaten the harmony that has characterised our proceedings. He went so far as to say that if I could not promise that the Government would introduce the consolidation legislation early in the next Session he would be tempted to vote against the amendments.

It is not possible for me or for any other Minister to tell the House flatly that there will be legislation in the next Session. My hon. Friend will realise on reflection that he will probably never hear those words from any Minister. However, we desire to bring forward a consolidation measure. Anyone who has even dipped into the 1909 and 1952 Acts will appreciate the desirability of consolidation, but I hope that my hon. Friend will understand that that is as far as I can go at present.

It is possible that a consolidation measure could be enacted this year. It is always clumsy to have to include the word "consolidation" in the title of the Act and it is sensible to leave open the possibility that the consolidation measure could be called the Cinematograph Act 1982. That would be achieved by altering the title of the Bill to the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill.

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend can help us a little further about the likely date of the consolidation measure and say whether it will be in the next Session of Parliament. He said that it was the Government's intention to have a consolidation measure at some time in the future, but he did not say whether that might be in the next 20 or 30 years. What sort of time scale has he in mind?

We are extremely desirous of having this consolidation measure, and I assure my hon. Friend that we are not thinking of the kind of depressing time scale about which he talked. We want to get on with it. But he will understand that I am not in a position to say categorically that there will be such a measure in the next Session of Parliament.

I do not think that I can go beyond that, other than to say that the change proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) is desirable, and I hope that the House will accept it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) ought to accept the Minister's reply. Whether the consolidation measure is dated 1982 or 1983 is not material, and, even if it becomes the Cinematograph Act 1983 rather than 1982, it will still be wise to have a different title, and I think that we ought to make an amendment to this one.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon will recognise, I am sure, that no Minister can anticipate the contents of the Queen's Speech. I hope that he will accept what the Minister said. It is important that he does, so that the progress of the Bill is not threatened.

Like all my hon. Friends, I am desperately anxious to accept the reassurance that has been given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. Unfortunately, however, I have heard a great many promises from successive Ministers, though none of them as distinguished as my right hon. Friend—I thought it opportune to say that. I have heard Ministers in Governments of both parties give serious undertakings of this nature. If, on Tuesday, my right hon. Friend consults the Home Secretary, it may be that he will find what some of us suspect, which is that the Government's legislative programme for this Parliament, assuming that the Parliament runs for two more years, which is by no means certain, is hopelessly congested. Moreover, he will find that there are a number of very popular Bills and measures which are proposed and very much needed. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) has introduced a very popular Bill, but he will agree that there are other measures which may attract the Home Office in the next couple of years and that they will take priority over any Bill relating to cinematograph exhibitions.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that consolidation measures have a very swift and abbreviated passage on the Floor of the House and take up virtually no time? The real issue is the queue of statutes awaiting consolidation which have to be considered by the Joint Committee on Consolidation &c. Bills, on which it was my misfortune to serve for a number of years.

The real issue is the number of other statutes which the Government intend to consolidate and which will be given priority over this set of statutes about cinematography. That will be the deciding factor, I imagine. It will not worry the Prime Minister that a consolidation measure may clog up the progress of business in the House while the Conservatives produce their vote-winning measures just before the next general election.

I was trying to point out that many of us believe that it is not appropriate to proceed with a measure, whether consolidation or otherwise, until the dreadful nineteenth century Home Office jargon that has been selected as the title for the Bill is brought up to date.

"Cinematograph" means nothing today to anyone except a few troglodytes in Whitehall. It is very important that in the next few months a proper description of any consolidating Bill is decided upon. That being so, and as several Government Departments in which I have an interest already have a queue of attractive measures that they want to have enacted in the next year or two, I accept the word of my right hon. Friend the Minister, but with the greatest reluctance and many misgivings borne out by personal experience.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) has been admirably supportive, but combative. Therefore, I take seriously his threat to vote against the amendments. However, it would not help the Bill and its effect if he were to do that. There is widespread opinion that the term "cinematagraph" is unsatisfactory. I ask my hon. Friend to accept that my right hon. Friend the Minister is doing all in his power to see that the consolidation measure is introduced as soon as possible. If my hon. Friend and other hon. Members who do not like the term "cinematograph" can think of a suitable alternative term, I shall treat them to a cup of House of Commons Tearoom tea and ensure that that new term is rapidly passed to the sponsor of the Bill in the other place.

I have no wish to challenge the whole basis of the Bill or to threaten its passage through the House, which has been so skilfully conducted by my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd). Therefore, I shall not divide the House on the amendment. In a sense I was campaigning on my hon. Friend's side out of a feeling for him, as he had had this title for the Bill throughout its passage, and it seemed that outside pressure might have been brought to bear on him to change the title, and that might have been unfair. Therefore, I shall not press my objection to the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 22, in page 7, line 25, leave out `passing of this Act' and insert

`day on which this Act is passed'. —[Mr. Peter Lloyd.]