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Clause 1—(Power To Extend Purposes Of Certain Defence Regulations)

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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3.30 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, leave out "at fair prices."

This and the two following Amendments are drafting Amendments, the object of which is to make clear, what was in fact the original intention when the Bill was first introduced last May, that the three objectives set out in the paragraph, namely, to secure a sufficiency of essential supplies and services, to secure them at fair prices, and to distribute them equitably, are distinct. A particular Defence Regulation may be concerned with one of these matters, for example, the production of essential goods, but not with their production at fair prices, nor with their equitable distribution. This Amendment was foreshadowed by the Home Secretary in his speech on the Second Reading.

Without seeking, at the moment, to dissent in any way from the object of this Amendment, I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman to look again at the draft, because it does seem to me that if the subsection is drafted as now proposed, it will be ambiguous in a very unfortunate way. It will now read, if this Amendment is passed:

"To secure a sufficiency of those essential to the wellbeing of the community or their equitable distribution or their availability at fair prices."
As a lawyer, it seems to me that the words "at fair prices" will then only qualify the last of the three alternatives, "availability," and that we are being asked to leave out of the Clause the safeguard that fair prices shall qualify the first two alternatives.

Under the original draft, as framed by the Coalition Government, it was intended that fair prices should qualify the whole of this sub-section, and I can hardly believe that it is really the intention of the Government to open the door to securing any of these things at prices which are not fair. I cannot believe that that is the intention and, therefore, I think it ought to be made clear in the draft that "at fair prices" should qualify all three of the alternatives. Could we have an assurance that the drafting will be looked at again, before the Report stage, to avoid that implication?

I have had a look at the Clause while my hon. and learned Friend has been speaking, and I do not attach the same significance to the words which he does, because I do not think they are applicable in the sense in which he applies them. To make sure, however, we will look at the matter and see if any alteration is necessary and, should there be any substance in what he says, we will correct the matter. The purpose of the Amendment was to make the three items divisible. As the Section was originally drawn, the items were not divisible, and had to go together.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In line n, after "distribution," insert: "or their availability at fair prices."—[Mr. Oliver.]

I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, at end, to insert:

(b) to facilitate the demobilisation and resettlement of persons and to secure the orderly disposal of surplus material; or."
Since the Bill was first introduced by the Coalition Government, the Japanese war has come to a sudden end, and, as indicated in the Second Reading Debate on the Bill, the Government propose that the Emergency Powers Defence Act should expire in February next. When the present Bill was framed, it was expected that the immediate post-war problems of demobilisation, reinstatement, and the disposal of Government surplus would be largely dealt with before the expiry of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts. It is now necessary to bring these matters within the scope of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill.

While appreciating the object for which the Amendment is put down, I would like to ask whether we can have some more elucidation on this matter. As far as I am aware, there are not in existence at the present moment any Defence Regulations made with the object of facilitating the demobilisation and resettlement of persons, or with securing the orderly disposal of surplus Government material; and I should like to ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary if he can give any information as to the kind of Regulations which it is intended to continue under Clause 1 of this Bill for these particular purposes. Is it, for instance, intended to carry on with the power of direction of labour? What is intended with regard to the resettlement of persons? Is it intended to adapt any particular Defence Regulation for the purpose of implementing the White Paper with regard to the disposal of surplus material?

On the point raised by my hon. Friend, it would be impossible at this stage to indicate the precise Regulations which the Government have in mind, because the Government would be entitled to employ for the particular purposes specified in the Amendment any Regulation which fell within the interpretation of this Section. What those would be, of course, it would be very difficult to say, because they are much too extensive and, therefore, it would be misleading if I were to make the slightest attempt at indication before I have had the opportunity of previously considering the matter.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether he is really asking this Committee to give the Government power to carry on existing Defence Regulations without the Government having the least idea what kind of Regulations they want? May I ask him to deal with my specific point: Is it intended to carry on for this purpose with the Regulations? I think we ought to be told that, before we give the Government a blank cheque to carry on existing Regulations for this particular purpose.

This will not be the last opportunity the Committee will have for discussing specific Regulations, and I cannot, at this stage, discuss specific Regulations because it would be necessary to give them consideration, and it would be impossible to answer categorically the question raised by the hon. Member.

This seems to have raised a point of exceptional importance. I do not think the hon. Gentleman is being invited to specify any specific Regulation which he is proposing. He has been asked, in general terms, what powers the Government are seeking, and how they are proposing to use them. This is a matter of the greatest importance to all people returning from the Forces, and there is nothing which perturbs a man in the Forces so much as the doubt of his avail ability to take up his civilian employment. As I see it, under the powers which they are now proposing, the Government will be able to make a Regulation to alter the whole policy concerning labour which ex-Service men have been under the impression that they would be subjected to. I think we should press the Government for some better explanation about the use of such powers.

I should like to point out to my hon. Friend that he is asking the Committee to introduce something which will qualify any Defence Regulation. I would ask him whether that refers to present, or future, Regulations. Surely it would not be too difficult for the Government, with all the powers at their disposal, to inform the Committee, either to-day, or on the Report stage, what actual Defence Regulation, or Regulations, they have in mind. As has been pointed out, the words which were intended to be added to-day undoubtedly refer mainly to those men and women who are now, or have been, in the Forces. We have already experienced a certain amount of trouble over demobilisation, and I think that before the Committee considers this Amendment it should be informed to which Regulation or Regulations it refers.

I was rather startled when the hon. Gentleman said, in reply to the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham Buller), that he could not give particulars about this without further consideration. I am bound to say it is a most startling thing that a Minister should come down to answer a question of this kind and admit that he has not considered it. I think we are entitled to know which Regulations are referred to in the Section, and there would not be the slightest difficulty in specifying them in a Schedule if there were a genuine attempt to show the country which Regulations are involved. This method of wording leaves it open to the Government to make their own interpretation of any Regulation, whether it comes within the Section or not. I suggest to the Under-Secretary that the proper procedure is to set out in a Schedule precisely what Regulations are concerned.

I have now had an opportunity of considering the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend, and I would say that the Regulations contemplated are those which will govern the control of premises for storage purposes, for training centres, for the storage of goods and uniforms, or for men who are to be demobilised—in effect, the premises which will be required for the purposes of demobilising soldiers, airmen and members of the Navy when they are released. That is the class of Regulation we have in mind.

Might I ask my hon. Friend, if that really is the purpose of this Amendment, to consider, between now and the Report stage, words more appropriate for carrying out that purpose? He says now that this power is only limited to the securing of property for the purpose of storage and demobilisation.

If I understand that this is only an illustration, would the hon. Gentleman give some further indication if more is intended than dealing with property?

3.45 p.m.

I do not think the hon. Gentleman is treating the Committee very fairly. My hon. and learned Friend asked him some specific questions, and he has only given one illustration of one part of one of his questions. What is asked for here is a very considerable extension for the purposes of the Bill, and any one reading it would presume that facilitating demobilisation would involve a good deal more than merely taking over premises for the storage of clothing, which is the illustration given. Those words are capable of a very much wider interpretation than that. The hon. Gentleman has not told us anything about what is envisaged there. What about the orderly disposal of surplus materials? Do the Government intend to adhere to the general policy of the White Paper concerning the disposal of surplus materials? If the hon. Gentleman is not in a position to tell us, perhaps the Minister of Supply, who is present, will do so. This is a very important Bill, and I must say that the hon. Gentleman has not expounded the proposals he is putting before us. What my hon. Friend asked more generally was whether the whole question of the direction of labour was or was not to come under Sub-section (1, b). We have heard nothing about that.

We know that some of these powers are necessary, as was admitted from this side during the Second Reading Debate. The Coalition Government produced a Bill which envisaged the necessity of certain controls during the transitional period, but I think it is necessary, on such an important Measure as this and a Measure which has a greatly increased length of efficacy, that Ministers should tell us what is in their minds. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not think us discourteous in pressing him to go a little further and deal with the other points about resettle- ment and the disposal of surplus materials. Of course, we do not expect him to specify every Regulation. I dare say they have not been drafted, and perhaps they never will be; but up to now we have had no inkling of the sort of thing the Government want to deal with. I think that either the Under-Secretary, the Home Secretary, or the Minister of Supply should enlighten us further.

I want to press the Minister strongly on this matter and to ask the Committee to consider how those who are serving in the Army will look at the matter. It is significant that this Amendment for the first time mentions "persons." Hitherto on this Bill we have been discussing materials. This Amendment is to facilitate the demobilisation and resettlement of persons. A person serving in the Eighth Army, and looking at the matter from the point of view of his coming back to civil life, will wonder what the Government mean when they talk about facilitating the demobilisation and settlement of persons. The simple soldier, having served for six years in the Army, wants to know what kind of treatment he is to get. This Amendment is alarming and significant, and will not allay anxieties about demobilisation in the minds of many hon. Members and many of those who are still serving. The phrase "resettlement of persons" is a significant one; the word "settlement" seems to indicate some finality, such as an interment. There is a sentence of doom in it which I am certain the Government do not want to impart, but if I were reading it round the camp fire, it would create that kind of impression in my mind. This phrase raises a great many anxieties. For example, would the Government desire under this power to deal with strikes, with working parties that will not work? I hope the Minister will answer these somewhat simple observations We are dealing with an intelligent electorate, and people want to know what is behind the devices and designs of the Government.

It does not seem to me to be very important whether the Minister gives a definition or not, because if this Amendment is passed in its present form there can be no question that all Regulations affecting the direction of labour will be in order. I ask hon. Members opposite to realise what the Government are doing in this Amendment. Hon. Members should know what they are doing. The Amendment means that it will be possible to direct men where the State wants them to go and to direct them into the sorts of work they are to be permitted to do for a period of five years, and perhaps longer. I regard the Amendment as a very serious one. It does seem to me that the Minister has let the cat out of the bag. If this Amendment is passed there will be direction of labour for a period of five years, and perhaps longer.

I advise the Minister not to make the least concession of any kind to hon. Members opposite. If he makes one concession, they will dive at him for another. I only want to say a word or two about the direction of labour. It is a bogy that is continually raised, and those who raise it forget that when we had a Tory Government in this country there were millions of men lining up day after day at the employment exchanges begging to be directed to a job. After the last war, what happened to the lads when they came out of the Army? They were left to wander around the streets begging and playing instruments. Any of the lads who came out after the last war would have been delighted if there had been a Government with powers, and prepared to use them, to direct men into a job. The important thing is to see that the Government have power to get the lads employed when they come out of the Army. If they do that, they will be doing a good job.

I think the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), as self-appointed adviser to the Government in this matter, may prove rather an embarrassment to them. As well as appearing in that role, the hon. Member said that the question of the direction of labour is a mere bogy. I do not think that very many of those who voted for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree with him, judging from the letters which I receive and similar letters which, I understand, reach hon. Members opposite. The writers of those letters regard this as a very real and live point. The Essential Work Order, which is also covered by the Bill, is another very distasteful matter not only to employers but to employees. I do not think the hon. Member for West Fife can gainsay that. The question of the direction of labour is a very important point. The Amendment also deals in general terms with demobilisation. Can the hon. Member for West Fife or any other hon. Member opposite say that the demobilisation scheme, which admittedly was brought in by the Coalition Government, is giving general satisfaction to the men and women concerned? In his speech over the wireless, the Minister of Labour—

I will not pursue it further, then. I was emphasising that with regard to the direction of labour, the Essential Work Order and demobilisation there is very real dissatisfaction among the men and women in the Services. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) put a question to the Minister of Supply which also raiseda very important point. It boils down to this, that we are asked to make not merely a change in the whole structure of the Bill, but to give the Government very far-reaching additional powers to those already in the Bill. We on this side object to control for control's sake. We regard controls as a wartime necessity to be retained in peacetime only for so long as they are absolutely necessary, but not to be retained simply out of pure love of control. Hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite like controls. [Interruption.] The fact that my words are not meeting with approval shows that they are stinging. If I may say so without disrespect, the Under-Secretary rather slurred over this Amendment, rather indicating that it was merely a drafting Amendment, and in doing so I do not think he treated the Committee with the respect to which it is entitled. In any case, it did not escape the vigilance of my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller). I eagerly await a reply from one or other of the three Ministers immediately concerned with the Bill.

If I rose in my place almost before the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) had concluded his oration, my anxiety to be on my feet was due to the desire I had of congratulating him on his successful return to Parliament as an Independent Member.

I think the hon. Member misunderstands the position. If I may go into certain internal family troubles, some of those in the constituency which I represent in the House as a Conservative unfortunately ran against me.

I understood that the hon. Member was formerly a Conservative and that he is now in the House as an Independent Member.

I am sorry but the capacity in which the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) sits here is quite irrelevant.

On a point of Order. Having been challenged by the hon. Member, am I not entitled to reply to a personal attack?

I am sorry I raised the matter at all. I merely wanted to say that I hoped that the hon. Member, having taken the step of going against the Conservative machine, would go one step further and throw off the obvious control which it has over his thinking. I have been interested in the way in which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative benches have obstructed the Amendment. May I particularly congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank)? After nearly 20 years of responsible Government office, he has resumed in a matter of minutes his old position as chief obstructionist for the Conservative Party.

4 p.m.

On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to make imputations against a right hon. Gentleman in this Committee?

It must be clearly understood that there must not be any imputation of motives. I gathered that the hon. Member was speaking rather humorously than otherwise.

It is not my intention to be unkind to Conservative Members and I will say no more than that I watched hon. Members with great interest. The first Member was surprised, the next was amazed, the third was astounded and the fourth had suffered very grave anxiety. Obviously, hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway are in a bad mental state. This is all over a very trifling matter. [Hon. Members: "No."] That is how I regard it, and I have been saying to myself, "I wonder what will happen to these fellows when they come up against something serious." All that is being demanded here is the right to make regulations about certain matters and the Conservatives are asking the Undersecretary, on the basis of the Amendment, to make declarations about demobilisation, requisitioning of property, direction of labour—all matters of high policy upon which hon. and right hon. Members rightly say there is considerable interest in the country. None of these things could be done by regulations smuggled through on the basis of an Amendment inserted in this Bill, and every hon. and right hon. Gentleman above the gangway who has taken part in this Debate is just as well aware of that as I am.

I am not in grave anxiety, I am not alarmed and I am not anything else, but I would like to know one thing, and I hope that the Minister will make it clear. As I read the Amendment, it facilitates the demobilisation and resettlement of persons. It would seem to imply that the Government could advance the demobilisation of certain persons in the Forces for certain purposes. In other words, they put them at an advantage over the rest of the Armed Forces. That may be the object, I do not know, and I would like to know if that is the case. It would enable them to take persons whom they require from the Army, and Navy or the Royal Air Force, and in that way it would rather complicate matters for the rest of the Services. If that is the case, it is wrong and I would like, therefore, to be assured that that is not the intention. Does "resettlement of persons" mean that, if I live at Newcastle and there is a job of work in some other part of the country, the Government can say, "We will let you out of the Army, Navy or Air Force, whichever it might be, if you are prepared to leave your home and go somewhere else"? If that is the object in view, I do not think that it will be very popular in certain parts of England where the people are displaced. The resettlement of persons is a very large subject and such a provision ought not to be put into a Bill of this kind unless that is the intention.

There seems to be some misapprehension in a number of quarters as to what this Sub-section does. I want the Home Secretary to deal with the point that I put before, namely, that there is no intention in this Sub-section of giving power to make new regulations but only to retain regulations in force. If hon. Members will look at Sub-section (4) of the Clause it will be seen that it only applies to regulations contained in Part III or Part IV of the Defence Regulations and certain other regulations. Why is it not possible for the Government to put their Bill in this form, namely, that they propose to retain, say, Regulations 1, 2, 3, 10 or 20 and then we would know precisely what regulation it was that they intended to maintain. What makes us suspicious is that they have chosen an infinitive way to choose what regulation they are going to retain. What objection is there to saying which regulation they wish to retain?

We have had a very interesting and, at times, amusing discussion on this Amendment and I must congratulate right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on the strength of their imagination this afternoon. They really have been able to discover a number of things in this simple Amendment which I should have thought it was obvious were not actually covered by it. Perhaps it would be helpful if I took the specific question put to me by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam) it would enable me to show the scope of this Amendment. We are in a process of demobilising a very large number of men and women from the Forces into a country, which, since they were enlisted, has suffered very considerable losses in the way of dwelling houses, factories and other things that are necessary to provide these demobilised people with homes and employment. It will be necessary in certain cases to make arrangements for these people's resettlement in the ordinary civilian life of the country, and that is the context in which we use this word. It is not taking them from one part of the country to another; but in respect of a man whose natural home is in Newcastle, who has a job in Newcastle to which he wishes to go but for whom there is no adequate accommodation, such accommodation could be acquired for him under the powers we propose to take under this Amendment.

The same thing applies in regard to the orderly disposal of surplus material. The Act of the last Parliament—the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act—under which the storage of material is now being carried on comes to an end on 24th February next. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who were in the last Parliament will know that they dropped this Bill, and only extended the Act for six months. As my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade said, it was the first intimation we had that they knew that they were going to lose the General Election in order that they could place us in the difficulties that confront us to-day. We have, between now and 24th February next, to provide for the use after 24th February next of regulations that would otherwise expire on that date. There are various dumps about the country where material is being now stored. It may be necessary in order to dispose of some of that material to move it to certain sites not at present under the control of the Government, where it can be sold or otherwise dealt with. We would require to carry on with the powers we now have in order to do that. There is nothing in the proposed Amendment which deals with the direction of labour, that is, directing a man into a job in some part of the country other than that in which he lives or in which there is a job which he does not want to undertake. That is not in this Amendment.

I am advised that it would not cover it, and it is not our intention to use the Amendment to deal with that.

This is a very important point. May we have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that this Amendment will not be used in any way with an element of compulsion in the resettlement outlined in the Bill? May we have a direct assurance that this Amendment will not be interpreted for that purpose?

This Amendment will certainly be used for compulsion, but not for compulsion of the kind which has just been put to me. If we required a piece of land for the kind of purpose I have just indicated or a dwelling-house for a man in the circumstances that I suggested, to the right hon. and gallant Member for North Newcastle, we should use the compulsory powers that the Regulation gives us to take that piece of land.

The hon. Gentleman might have allowed me to finish. I had already said that under this Amendment we do not propose to take any powers for the direction of labour in the way in which that is understood by saying to a man, "You are a plumber, you must go and do paper hanging," or "You have a job in Newcastle, but we want you to work in Salisbury." I am advised that that would not be considered to come under the provision which deals with the man who comes out of the Army and wants to go back to the place where his ordinary vocation is, but for whom, owing to the deplorable circumstances in the country which include the loss of houses due to enemy action, we want to have powers to provide the necessary accommodation.

May I suggest that what the right hon. Gentleman is saying might be made a little more precise and so help the Committee to get on with business? He is saying that nothing in the Clause is going to apply to anything other than property and material. If that is the intention, could not the Clause be redrafted on the Report stage and could he not give us the assurance we want?

I am not undertaking to re-draft the Amendment at all on any argument put to me so far. I have given the most explicit assurance that there is no intention of applying this in order to move persons against their will; but in order to secure that the work of the country should be carried on efficiently, it may be necessary to re-settle persons in the place where they want to be. Those of us who had some experience after the last war of the difficulty of getting houses when we were demobilised will appreciate the point. I imagine it will be some consolation to the men and women in the Forces to know that we are taking adequate steps to be able, as far as possible, to use the existing accommodation in the country to place them where their work is situated. There might be some service involved. I have done my best to indicate that all the sinister purposes that were thought might lurk in these words are not, in our opinion, to be found in them.

These words have been very carefully drafted to secure the ends I have in view. We have had, I think, a very full discussion on this Amendment, and I hope that, with the assurances I have been able to give, the Committee will now agree to accept it.

4.15 p.m.

I am afraid the whole thing is entirely unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, as we all expected, has given a most reasonable explanation of what, in the present mind of the Government, it is intended to do with this particular Amendment to the Clause. I do not think any hon. Member will object to the powers which exist under the Defence of the Realm Act being used in the kind of circumstances and for the kind of purpose which the right hon. Gentleman has indicated, but, for the rest, it has left the Committee in the position that we have no guarantee whatever that the Clause cannot be used in the kind of way which has been suggested by hon. Members on this side. The Home Secretary has merely told us that it is not the intention of the Government so to use the powers which they will be taking. Quite frankly, that is not good enough. Whatever party or Government sits on the Front Bench opposite, the Committee of this House, and the House itself, should not be prepared to give powers to that Government merely on a pious expression of opinion by a Minister that they will not be abused. The right hon. Gentleman said that these words were not susceptible of the interpretation which has been suggested. Can the right hon. Gentleman show any limitation whatever in the wording of the Clause as drafted at present? Surely, the powers are needed

"to facilitate the demobilisation and resettlement…."
but that covers almost anything, and I submit to the Committee that there is nothing in these words to prevent the powers which the Amendment will give to the Government being used, in fact, for the kind of direction of labour to which we, on this side of the Committee, are profoundly opposed and which, apparently, on the other side, is regarded as a great joke.

There is another point which seems to me to arise. Can the Home Secretary give us an assurance that these resettlement powers to be given by the Amendment will not be used to turn people out of their own houses for the benefit of people to be resettled?

I think the answer to that is that I do not think anyone can really foresee all that might have to be done during the coming winter. We take these powers, if the Committee will grant them to us, and we have to lay every one of the Regulations. If there is a single one which is regarded as oppressive, it goes in front of the Committee and has to come here, and, after all, though I do not

Division No. 2.]

AYES.

[4.24 p.m.

Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)Boardman, H.Cocks, F. S.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Bottomley, A. G.Coldrick, W.
Adamson, Mrs. J. L.Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Collindridge, F.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Bowen, Capt. R.Colman, Miss G. M.
Allighan, GarryBowles, F. G.Comyns, Dr. L.
Alpass, J. H.Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)Cook, T. F.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Corlett, Dr. J.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Brook, D. (Halifax)Corvedale, Maj. Viscount
Attewell, H. G.Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Cove, W. G.
Austin, H. L.Brown, George (Belper)Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A.
Awbery, S. S.Brown, T. J. (Ince)Crossman, R. H. S.
Ayles, W. H.Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Daggar, G.
Bacon, Miss A.Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Daines, P.
Balfour, A.Burden, T. W.Davies, A. E. (Burslem)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Burke, W. A.Davies, Clement (Montgomery)
Barstow, P. G.Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Barton, C.Byers, Lt.-Col. F.Davies Harold (Leek)
Battley, J. R.Callaghan, JamesDavies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)
Bechervaise, A. E.Chamberlain, R. A.Deer, G.
Berry, H.Champion, A. J.de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C.Chater, D.Diamond, J.
Binns, J.Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.Dodds, N. N.
Blackburn, A. R.Clitherow, R.Donovan, T.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A.Cluse, W. S.Douglas, F. C. R.
Blyton, W. R.Cobb, F. A.Dugdale J. (W. Bromwich)

want to anticipate the discussion on a later stage of the Bill, all subsidiary Orders made under these Regulations now have to come before the scrutiny of the House. I think that, as far as one can have safeguards in the matter at all, the Committee is amply protected in that respect.

Would the right hon. Gentleman answer my question about people being turned out of their homes for the benefit of people to be resettled?

I can give no pledge on that. It may be necessary to use these powers for such things as billeting, and I am certainly not, in the present state of the country, going to use words which might be implied as limiting what it may be necessary to do.

In view of the explanation given by the Home Secretary that this Amendment refers only to premises, which is not clear from the wording itself, would he consider withdrawing it and reconsidering it for the Report stage? The last thing that any court of law does in this country is to consider the pious observations of the Home Secretary on the meaning of phrases that go into a Bill. It is the words themselves that have to stand in a court of law, and, as these words stand now, they do not limit the operations to premises or buildings.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 143.

Dumpleton, C. W.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Skinnard, F. W.
Dye, S.Maclean, N. (Govan)Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.McLeavy, F.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft)MacMillan, M. K.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mainwaring, W. H.Smith, T. (Normanton)
Fairhurst, F.Mallalieu, J. P. W.Snow, Capt. J. W.
Farthing, W. J.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Sorensen, R. W.
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Follick, M.Marquand, H. A.Stamford, W.
Foot, M. M.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Steele, T.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Martin, J. H.Stewart, Maj. M. (Fulham, E.)
Gaitskell, H. T. N.Maxton, J.Stubbs, A. E.
Gallacher, W.Mayhew, Maj. C. P.Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Gibbins, J.Medland, H. M.Swingler, Capt. S.
Gibson, C. W.Messer, F.Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Gilzean, A.Middleton, Mrs. L.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Glanville, J. E.Mitchison, Maj. G. R.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Goodrich, H. E.Montague, F.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Gould, Mrs. B. AyrtonMorris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Grey, C. F.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)Thomas, J. R. (Dover)
Grierson, E.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Moyle, A.Thomson, Rt. Hon. G. R. (E'b'gh, E.)
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)Murray, J. D.Thorneycroft, H.
Gunter, Capt. R. J.Nally, W.Thurtle, E.
Guy, W. H.Neal, H. (Claycross)Tiffany, S.
Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Titterington, M. F.
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Noel-Buxton, LadyTolley, L.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Oldfield, W. H.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Oliver, G. H.Turner-Samuels, M.
Hardy, E. A.Orbach, M.Ungoed-Thomas, Maj. L.
Harrison, J.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Hastings, Dr. SomervillePalmer, A. M. F.Viant, S. P.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Parker, JWadsworth, G.
Herbison, Miss M.Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.Walkden, E.
Hicks, G.Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Walker, P. C. G. (Smethwick)
Hobson, C. R.Paton, J. (Norwich)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Holman, P.Peart, Capt. T. F.Warbey, W. N.
Horabin, T. L.Perrins, W.Watkins, T. E.
House, G.Piratin, P.Weitzman, D.
Hoy, J.Platts-Mills, J. F. F.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Hubbard, T.Popplewell, E.Wells, Maj. W. T. (Walsall)
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Porter, G. (Leeds)White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pritt, D. N.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Proctor, W. T.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Pryde, D. J.Whittaker, J. E.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Pursey, Cmdr. H.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Randall, H. E.Wilkes, Maj. L.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Ranger, J.Wilkins, W. A.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Reid, T. (Swindon)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Rhodes, H.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Keenan, W.Richards, R.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Kenyon, C.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Williams, Rt. Hon. E. J. (Ogmore)
Key, C. W.Robens, A.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
King, E. M.Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. E. O. (Merioneth)Williamson, T.
Kinley, J.Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)Willis, E.
Kirby, B. V.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Lee, F. (Hulme)Rogers, G. H. R.Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Leonard, W.Royle, C.Wilson, J. H.
Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.Sargood, R.Wise, Major F. J.
Levy, Lt. B. W.Scollan, T.Woods, G. S.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Scott-Elliot, W.Yates, V. F.
Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Lipson, D. L.Shawcross, Cmdr. C. N. (Widnes)Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.
Longden, F.Silkin, L.Zilliacus, K.
Lyne, A. W.Silverman, J. (Erdington)
McAllister, G.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—
McEntee, V. La T.Simmons, C. J.Mr. Mathers and Mr. Pearson.
Mack, J. D.Skeffington-Lodge, Lt. T. C.

NOES.

Aitken, Gp. Capt. The Hon. M.Bullock, Capt. M.Darling, Sir W. Y.
Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.Butcher, H. W.Digby, Maj. S. Wingfield
Astor, Capt. Hon. M.Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.
Baldwin, A. E.Carson, E.Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.
Baxter, A. B.Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Channon, H.Drayson, Capt. G. B.
Beattie, F. (Cathcart)Clarke, Col. R. S.Duthie, W. S.
Birch, Lt.-Col. N.Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Erroll, Col. F. J.
Bossom, A. C.Cooper-Key, Maj. E. M.Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.
Bower, N.Corbett, Lieut-Col. U. (Ludlow)Fletcher, W. (Bury)
Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Gage, Lt.-Col. C.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Cuthbert, W. N.Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.

Gammans, Capt. L. D.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Glossop, C. W. H.MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Glyn, Sir R.McCallum, Maj. D.Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)Ross, Sir R.
Gridley, Sir A.Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.Sanderson, Sir F.
Grimston, R. V.M'Kie, J. H. (Galloway)Scott, Lord W.
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Maclay, Hon. J. S.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Head, Brig. A. H.Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Headlam, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Snadden, W. M.
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountManningham-Buller, R. E.Spearman, A. C. M.
Hogg, Hon. Q.Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A. A. H.Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. O.
Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.Marples, Capt. A. E.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Holmes, Sir J. StanleyMarsden, Comdr. A.Stoddart-Scott, Lt.-Col. M.
Holt, Lieut.-Comdr. J. L.Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)Studholme, Maj. H. G.
Hope, Lt.-Col. Lord J.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Howard, The Hon. A.Maude, J. C.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Mellor, Sir J.Teeling, Flt. Lieut. W.
Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Touche, G. C.
Hurd, A.Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)Turton, R. H.
Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.Vane, Lt.-Col. W. M. T.
Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Jarvis, Sir J.Nield, Maj. B.Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.
Jeffreys, General Sir G.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Ward, Group-Capt. The Hon. G. R.
Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. The Hn. L. W.Nutting, A.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Keeling, Sqn.-Ldr. E. H.Orr-Ewing, I. L.Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Kerr, Sir J. GrahamOsborne, C.Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.
Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.White, Maj. J. B. (Canterbury)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Williams, Lt.-Cdr. G. W. (T'nbr'ge)
Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Pitman, I. J.York, Maj. C.
Linstead, H. N.Poole, Col. O. B. S. (Oswestry)Young, Maj. Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.).Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.
Lloyd, Brig. J. S. B. (Wirral)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—
Low, Brig. A. R. W.Raikes, H. V. Commander Agnew and
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Ramsay, Maj. S.Mr. Drewe.

4.37 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, at end, insert:

"Provided that any such Order in Council shall cease to have effect twelve months after the last date upon which it was laid or relaid before Parliament in accordance with section four of this Act."
This Amendment has linked with it Amendments standing in the names of my hon. Friends and myself to Clauses 2 and 4. The one to Clause 2 is in identical terms with this Amendment. The Amendment to Clause 4 is more or less consequential upon this Amendment. I should also mention that I have given notice of a manuscript drafting Amendment to Clause 4, page 3, line 33, after "laid," to insert "or relaid."

The same simple principle is involved in all these Amendments and I can see that it will be your wish, Major Milner, and for the convenience of the Committee that the principle should be discussed now upon this Amendment. The effect of this Amendment would be to provide that Orders in Council should cease to have effect 12 months after the last date upon which they were laid or relaid before Parliament. The purpose is to secure that the same control that Parliament is given over the making of Orders in Council shall be extended to their con- tinuance. There would be no interruption at all in the continuity of the effect of an Order in Council unless it was interrupted by a successful Prayer in Parliament.

Clause 4, as all hon. Members appreciate, provides a fairly ample safeguard for Parliamentary review of an Order immediately after it has been made, but nowhere in existence, in this Bill or elsewhere, is there any provision for Parliament to supervise the continued existence of Orders once they have been made, laid, and allowed to pass without successful prayer. In order to give the Committee more clearly the idea which I have in mind, I will indicate the course of events which would normally take place. An Order in Council having been made, it would be laid, and let us assume that either it was not prayed against or the prayer was unsuccessful. It would then continue. If my Amendment were adopted, it would mean that it would have to be laid again before 12 months elapsed from the date on which it was first laid. It would then become capable, for a period of 40 days, of Parliamentary challenge. Supposing it survived, it would then continue untroubled for a further period of 12months, when it would again have to be laid and again become capable of Parliamentary challenge, and so on. I anticipate that during the transition period we shall all expect to find the system of controls being tapered off.

We all hope—I think this hope will not be repudiated by the Home Secretary—that they will be tapered off rapidly, but it must happen that a number of Orders will be made which will be controversial when they are laid. It will also happen that a number of Orders will be made which are accepted as reasonably necessary at the time they are made but it is very probable that after they have been in existence for a year or more, there will be a considerable conflict of opinion as to whether or not they have outlived their necessity. Therefore my contention is that there should be a periodic opportunity for Parliamentary review.

I would commend my Amendment to the Government from this point of view—and I hope they will see it in the same way. I know that they are very much concerned about the relation between the available Parliamentary time and the large amount of business which they will have to get through in the near future. At the start there must be a large number of these statutory Orders made. I think it will make for the economy of Parliamentary time if they can see their way to adopt the principle of my Amendment, for this reason: When their new Orders in Council have been made, hon. Members, not only on this side of the House but in every part of the House, will be very dubious about allowing them to pass without Prayer unless they contain a time limit within their terms. If they do not contain an internal time limit, then I think hon. Members will feel very dubious about passing them without Prayer, having regard to the fact that they would have a five year run without any opportunity of Parliamentary review. If my Amendment were adopted, that feeling would not arise. Hon. Members would say, perhaps, "We are not quite sure about this Order in Council. We do not altogether like the look of it. But at any rate we shall be able to look at it again. Let us give it a run and see how it works out in practice, let us see what experience we gain as a result of its operation."

4.45 P.m.

I think it would be more convenient from the point of view of administration that there should be this Parliamentary review, annually, of any Order provided under the terms of the Act rather than that it should be necessary to place a particular time limit on every Order. For this reason when an Order in Council reaches its time limit the Government have to make a further Order, whereas if Orders have no time limit, but are subject to an annual Parliamentary review, they will continue on their way, so long as they give satisfaction, without any disturbance from inside or outside Parliament.

This is not a party issue; it is a House of Commons matter and one which should commend itself to all sides of the Committee, because we all have a duty to ensure that Parliamentary control over the Executive is effective. So, I hope very much that the Government will not lightly dismiss this proposal. I believe it will make not only for more effective Parliamentary control, but will also be very convenient from the point of view of Departmental administration. If the Home Secretary should be unable to accept the Amendment as it stands I hope he will furnish us with a rather fuller explanation than he thought fit to give in the preceding Debate. I attach the greatest importance to this proposal from the point of view of control by Parliament over the continuance in operation of these Orders during this transitional stage.

I support the Amendment which has been so excellently moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor). The Home Secretary said in the recent Debate that it was hoped to dispense with a considerable number of Regulations and that they would decline until but a few were left in operation. A lot of us will be very worried if we see Orders made and laid on the Table. Even though they have explanatory memoranda this sometimes makes them more mystifying than ever. We ought to avoid any unnecessary Prayers, and I cannot see why, if these Orders are to be reduced in number, they should not come under annual revision by Parliament.

I would not like the Minister to reply to the arguments which have been so admirably put by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor), and seconded by by hon.

and gallant Friend the Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower), without some attempt being made to strengthen that case or, at least, to reinforce it. This seems to be one of the acid tests in this Bill. If the Government are sincere—and the Minister was at pains on the Second Reading to emphasise that they are, and that they have no ulterior motives in this Bill—what possible objection could they have to all these Regulations and Orders in Council, which no one has had adequate opportunity of studying and which no one Member can say he has read, being laid and re-laid every year so that the House may have an opportunity of looking at them? If that is not done we shall have an accumulation of Orders piling up, which most of us will not have the opportunity of reading. Some of us have no particular objection to some of these Orders provided they are for only a year but if some of them, which we cannot understand because their language makes them incomprehensible, or because they are too long, are to continue for five years we shall have an accumulation of Regulations which no one has properly examined. It is travesty of Parliamentary government that such a suggestion should be made. Here is the acid test of sincerity. Why should we not have an opportunity of looking at these matters every year?

I would ask new Members of the House not to be led away by the arguments—if they can be called arguments—which we have just heard from the other side. It is quite obvious that they are trying to impede legislation. It is nonsense to suggest that all these Regulations and Orders should be laid before the House each year. May I remind the Committee that there was set up at the beginning of this Session, after some pressure on the last Government, a Select Committee to examine all these statutory Rules and Orders as and when they are laid before the House? It was obvious that Members have not the time to examine such Regulations and Orders, even if they could understand them, so we have this Select Committee, of which I happen to be a member. [An Hon. Member: "Honourable or honoured?"] I am honoured to be on the Committee. We have the benefit of the expert advice of Mr. Speaker's Counsel, Sir Cecil Carr, and the work is done very well. I think we have had only one meeting, but—

For the benefit of the new Members whom the hon. Member is addressing will he say whether that Committee reports on matters of policy which are contained in these Orders?

What the Committee does is to see whether they are in order, intelligible, whether they introduce matters of importance which we think should be submitted to the House so that Members as a whole should have their attention called to them. It is a scrutinising, a watchdog, Committee, doing on behalf of the House the kind of job which was recognised in the last Parliament as being invaluable.

May I ask a question with the idea of assisting the hon. Member's argument? Once this honoured Committee has done its work and given its blessing to the regulation has it any further interest? Can it at any given time look at the Regulation again and say, "Things have happened, this is wrong"? That Committee has no authority over policy at all, and what the hon. Gentleman has just said in no way meets the point raised in the Amendment.

As I have said, the House set up this Select Committee to examine on their behalf what was in these Regulations. The Committee report to the House, and if the Committee think the attention of the House should be called to anything special it is the Committee's duty to do this—

—and I therefore cordially invite the Committee not to be led away by what has been said from the other side. The welfare of delegated legislation of this kind is in good hands indeed, and I think we ought to get on with the next Amendment.

Surely the Committee of which the hon. Gentleman has been speaking has no control whatsoever over the continuance in operation of Orders in Council?

We are now passing a Bill which, if it goes through unamended, will give the Minister power to make Regulations or Orders for the purpose of implementing the general policy of the Government. The policy of the Government is that these Regulations and Orders should be in force for five years, and not for one year. It is true that the Select Committee is not concerned with policy. All it is concerned with is to find out whether the Regulations are intra vires. There is nothing in the Amendment, and I suggest we should be very wary of the delaying tactics of hon. Members opposite and should say that we do not intend to be put off by Amendments of this kind.

I do not think the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) has helped very much by his intervention. While it is perfectly true that the Select Committee does excellent work in looking at the wording of these Regulations, all we are asking for is not that we shall challenge them once a year but that they shall lie on the Table for 40 days during which, if circumstances have altered completely, we can challenge them. We are asking that the rights of Parliament shall be asserted once every twelve months, and I am astonished that the hon. Member opposes that view. While there is no longer a Coalition Government in being Parliament itself is a Coalition. We are here to criticise and, if necessary, to support Government policy in trying to make Bills workable. There might come a moment in the life of the Government when they will be glad to have the support of Members on this side of the Committee, and I urge the Home Secretary to act as one of a Coalition in this discussion and grant the very wise and traditionally Parliamentary Amendment which has been moved.

5.0 p.m.

I regret the intervention of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) because he seems to be trying to introduce a party element into the discussion. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment made it abundantly clear, and I do not think there is any question about it, that this is not a party question. It is simply a question of machinery, and whether we can simplify what is liable to become a very big problem. The hon. Member for Nuneaton referred to the innumerable regulations that may be put out, but those who, like myself have worked in Gov- ernment Departments for some time know how difficult it is to withdraw any power which a Department may have. When the question comes up for consideration as to whether or not such and such a power is still necessary, it goes around the Department for comment and, sooner or later, someone says that it will be difficult for him to say that the power may not be required in the future. That is sufficient; quite obviously, the Department is not going to advise its Minister to discard a power which it may require to use in the future.

There is nothing so dangerous to the public, the Department and the Government as to have dead legislation on hand. It is difficult enough, in all conscience, at present for the public to know what the law is. It is a terrible thing for them to know that there is a lot of dead law, which may be put into operation at any time against them. It is very wrong, as a matter of principle and quite apart from party politics, to build up a body of decaying law. The object of this Amendment is to ensure, what it is no longer possible for Members of Parliament to do—to continue to supervise all the regulations when they have once been passed. The Select Committee to which the hon. Member referred is not a policy Committee or a revision Committee: It simply deals with the regulation when it is first introduced. It cannot say to this House, "We advise that this Regulation should be reviewed in a couple of years." It is purely a fact-finding Committee within the limits of its terms of reference.

I remember that last week, the very strong support which I would like to claim for this argument was on the other side of the House. I was very impressed, as I believe we all were, by the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale), and I referred to the Official Report of that speech, because I think it is very relevant indeed. He said, as many hon. Members will remember, with regard to the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill:
"It is another example of delegated legislation—another example of a scheme the major details of which are going to be put forward in the form of Regulations."
That is what we are dealing with now.
"Let us say at once—By all means have your delegated legislation so long as you have control. Without that, the Minister is going off to his private suite downstairs to make his Regulations, and he will place his fledglings on the Table and say 'Kill them if you dare?'"—[Official Report, nth October, 1945; Vol. 414, c. 519.]

The criticism there was that you were introducing a wide scheme of social insurance for permanent legislation, and the details of administration were not embodied in the Act. That is a wholly different matter. If you are legislating permanently for things, my point is that we ought to have more details. Please do not put into my mouth any disapproval of the proposals that are before the Committee at this moment.

I welcome the disclaimer of the hon. Member for Oldham and I think the Committee will agree that I may be exonerated from any intention of wishing to misquote him or misconstrue his arguments, but what is said there confirms my opinion. We are here dealing with an unknown amount of delegated legislation which may be necessary for a limited time for the whole operation for which it is purported to be put into operation. But whatever the case may be, it cannot but be to the advantage of the Government, the public, in particular, and the Department if it must be subject to review annually and laid upon the Table, so that both we and the Department in question can really consider whether it is still necessary to have these statutory powers in existence.

I think there are obviously some doubts in the minds of some hon. Members about the functions of the Scrutiny Committee, the Select Committee on Statutory Rules and Orders. Although this Committee vets statutory rules and orders it does not in any way absolve hon. Members from their own particular function of studying and understanding the policy contained in these statutory rules and orders. I can only say again, following the remarks of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) and giving some advice myself to new Members, that if statutory rules and orders come out of Government Departments in the same numbers as they have done in the past few years, then no man, with any ordinary working hours at his disposal, will ever be able to study the policy contained in those rules and orders. If the Committee accepts this recommendation, it gives hon. Members this oppor- tunity: We cannot examine all the statutory rules and orders that are being turned out like sausages. We cannot read them or study them all. We have not the time to do it. It may be that the first time an hon. Member hears of a statutory rule and order is when a constituent writes to him and says, "I am suffering under the provisions of this rule and order." The hon. Member then looks at the order, for the first time, and says, "My goodness, did I really allow that to get through the House without making some protest?"

This Amendment gives the Member of Parliament a reasonable chance. At the end of a year, after a rule and order has been tried and tested, he will find out very clearly from his constituents and from its application whether that rule and order is working fairly and satisfactorily or not. When the hon. Member who moved this Amendment spoke about orders being "laid," it reminded me of the egg. At the time of laying it may be a good egg, but 12 months after it may be a thoroughly undesirable and bad egg which should be discarded. Therefore, I hope this Amendment will be accepted, because I believe it is thoroughly reasonable and non-party and is purely a House of Commons matter.

The hon. Member tells us that these rules and orders are being turned out like sausages out of a sausage machine. Will he tell me how many we have had in the last few days or weeks?

Can the hon. Member tell us how many since this Government came into office?

No, the hon. Member, who is connected very closely with the present Government, can give the Committee those facts.

It is ten years since I last had the opportunity of addressing a Committee of this House, and during that somewhat long interval, I have spent quite a few years as a civil servant—that group of people who badger their Ministers to make these Orders in Council. In that capacity I have had an opportunity of seeing the working or the non-satisfactory working of some of these Orders in Council that have been made. Parliament and the Government of the day may, with the best intention in the world, make an Order in Council which on paper appears to be very satisfactory; but when it has been in operation, it may be found to inflict considerable inconvenience and perhaps hardship on some of His Majesty's subjects. The public have put up with Orders in Council during war time, and, I am certain, they are prepared once again to put up with Orders in Council during the transitional period from war to peace. I would respectfully say, however, that we are not here to legislate for our own benefit; we are here to legislate for the people who send us to this House. I feel that it would be maintaining the good will of the country towards Parliament if the country felt that when an Order in Council had been made, there was an opportunity for it to be reconsidered at the end of 12 months, rather than to pass an Order in Council, with very little opportunity for Members to study it at the time it is laid on the Table, which may be a bad Order in Council and inflict hardship and injustice on the people for a matter of five years. As the Mover of this Amendment says, this is not a party Amendment; it is an Amendment not only to safeguard the privileges of Members of this House but one designed to safeguard and protect the subjects in the country and the people who send us to his House.

The speech which was delivered by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) I think laid to rest the allegation that hon. Members had had no opportunity of considering Regulations. Of course they have an opportunity to consider Regulations by virtue of the Committee which is specifically set up for that purpose.

They have an opportunity of considering the Regulations. There can be no doubt about that, and they can refer and bring back to this House anything in those Regulations, or draw the attention of hon. Members of this House to any matter to which they think the attention of the House should be drawn. [Hon. Members: "No."] Oh, yes, there is not much substance in the contention that hon. Members have no opportunity of considering these matters. No doubt—

We must get this quite clear. I am sure the hon. Gentleman is not trying to mislead the Commit tee in any way, but the Scrutiny Committee does not draw attention to the merits or demerits of any particular Statutory Rule or Order. It merely draws the attention of the House to certain specific matters concerning which the terms of reference were laid down. It is not the function of the Committee to consider the merits of an Order.

I think the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) indicated quite clearly that it was not the function of the Committee to deal with policy. That was stated quite categorically and, there fore, the point, I think, which was made by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) does not seem to have a great deal of substance, and, may I say, that it has no substance whatever on the point that hon. Members have a kind of mental indigestion. In addition to what the Committee might do—

5.15 p.m.

In addition to that, if a Member of this House is interested in a specific Regulation, he is not precluded from raising a matter in which he is so vitally interested, and if a Member was vitally interested in a Regulation or some aspect of legislation affected by a Regulation, there can be no doubt he would be on his feet to draw attention to the hardship or anomaly of the matter of which he complained.

The Committee should have its attention drawn to the Home Secretary's speech on the Second Reading of this Bill when he said:
"I commend this Bill to the House, and I desire to give hon. Members, in no matter what part of the House they may sit, this assurance, that as the powers can and should be dispensed with, they will be given up. We have no desire for control for control's sake any more than has any other Member of this House."—[Official Report, 9th October, 1945; Vol. 414, c. 124.]
I think that that is a reasonable assurance, because if the hon. Member's Amendment were accepted, it would have the effect of a periodic review, and it would have the purpose of defeating the intention of the Statute itself, because this Bill is drafted and designed for five years. Therefore, if there could be a periodic review of the many Regulations which will no doubt be embraced or incorporated or added or brought within the ambit of this Bill, there would be the possibility of defeating the purpose of the Bill, which is, to maintain the Regulations for five years. What would be the purpose of a discussion unless it were to annul the Regulation? The whole purpose of the Statute would or might be defeated

Does the hon. Gentleman really persist in the astonishing argument that in his view it is desirable that the Government should be able to maintain in being an Order in Council when the majority of the House wished it to be annulled? That is the logical point of his argument.

Of course, I mean what I say. There is nothing ambiguous about that. I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman, because he is not a new Member of this House. He knows full well that if any of these Regulations contain, in their operation, something objectionable, there are many Parliamentary opportunities, and one in particular which I know the hon. Member would not hesitate to use. That would be when the opportunity was presented to hon. Members to raise any point about the Minister's salary.

Surely the hon. Gentleman does not mean to argue that avote can conveniently be taken on the continuance in operation of a specific Order in Council on the occasion when the Minister's salary is before us, when there is a fairly wide Debate upon the administration of that Minister's Department?

As the hon. Member well knows, the conduct of the Minister or anything for which he responsible can always be raised then. There would not be a specific vote, but there would be raised in a very concrete form the aspect of the Regulation to which objection was taken.

I think it will be observed that by the nature of some of the Regulations, they will require to be continued much longer than one year. It is impossible at this juncture to say that the important Regulations will have fulfilled their usefulness in the short period of 12 months. Is it to be suggested in the case of the building industry, for instance, that the regulations controlling materials and prices and the braiding of houses will be exhausted within 12 months of their being laid? Is it suggested, too, that in matters connected with clothing and footwear and textiles it will be possible to discontinue control in respect of prices within a year. It is obvious that the whole aim of this Amendment is designed to bring about a Parliamentary holiday every year for the purpose of having an annual discussion on the question of controls generally. From that aspect it would not be in the public interest to accept this Amendment, and I must inform the hon. Member, with regret, that the Government cannot accept the proposition he has laid before the Committee.

My purpose in rising is to speak as one of the new Members who were admonished and instructed by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles). The matter appears to me in this way. The Government have a Bill before the Committee which will, if carried as it is drafted, have a life of five years. The Government will have power under the Measure to make regulations from time to time. The Amendment proposed is that these regulations shall come under review annually, and that they can then, if it is desired on the merits, be continued. The hon. Member for Nuneaton was rather afraid that innocent people like myself might be led astray by this Amendment, and so he has put me right, first of all by pointing out that notice is taken of every regulation issued because there is a Select Committee, of which he is a member, which looks fully into the matter. In cross-examination it turns out that the Select Committee deals with ambit, competence, procedure, but not with merit. The real object of the Amendment we are considering arises from the fact that on merits it is very hard for a Member to scrutinise every proposed Order. I would only say that a regulation which appears to be quite good may in a year turn out to be very inconvenient, and therefore it is a good thing that the matter should be reviewed. Accordingly the instruction given to me by the hon. Member for Nuneaton fails to impress me in that regard.

I am much impressed by a speech by the Home Secretary which I did not have the advantage of hearing, but which I have heard quoted from HANSARD. I understand that he tells us that the Government do not for one moment want to hang on to powers that have become obsolescent, and that they would desire that obsolescent matters should be reviewed from time to time. For reasons which have been mentioned it is asking too much of human nature to suppose that a Government Department will ever commit hara-kiri. It appears to me that if we are to have what is the design and intention of the Home Secretary, an Amendment of this kind is highly desirable, because it means that as the matters come up for review annually his intention of a scrutiny of superfluous powers would be carried out. If I may hark back to the hon. Member for Nuneaton, it was suggested by him that this Amendment is in direct conflict

Division No. 3.]

AYES.

[5.28 p.m.

Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Head, Brig. A. H.Osborne, C.
Aitken, Gp. Capt. The Hon. M.Headlam, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Amory, Lt.-Col. D. H.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPeto, Brig. C. H. M.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Hogg, Hon. Q.Pitman, I. J.
Astor, Hon. M.Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, A. E.Holmes, Sir J. StanleyPoole, Col. O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Baxter, A. B.Holt, Lieut.-Comdr. J. L.Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hope, Lt.-Col. Lord J.Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.
Beattie, F. (Cathcart)Howard, The Hon. A.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Birch, Lt.-Col. N.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Raikes, H. V.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J.Ramsay, Maj. S.
Bower, N.Hurd, A.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'gh W.).Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G.Hutchison, Lt.-Col. J. R. (G'gow, C.)Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Bromley-Davonport, Lt.-Col. W.Jarvis, Sir J.Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan Hepburn, P. G. T.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Ross, Sir R.
Bullock, Capt. M.Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. The Hn. L. W.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Butcher, H. W.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamSanderson, Sir F.
Carson, E.Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.Scott, Lord W.
Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.Lambert, G.Shephard, S. (Newark)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lancaster, Col. C. G.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Smithers, Sir W.
Cooper-Key, Maj. E. M.Linstead, H. N.Snadden, W. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.).Spearman, A. C. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Lloyd, Brig. J. S. B. (Wirral)Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. O.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stoddart-Scott, Lt.-Col. M.
Cuthbert, W. N.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Studholme, Maj. H. G.
Darling, Sir W. Y.MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
De la Bère, R.McCallum, Maj. D.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Digby, Maj. S. WingfieldMacdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)Teeling, Flt.-Lieut. W.
Dodds-Parker, Col. A. D.Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.M'Kie, J. H. (Galloway)Touche, G. C.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Maclay, Hon. J. S.Turton, R. H.
Drayson, Capt. G. B.Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)Vane, Col. W. M. T.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Erroll, Col. F. J.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Walker-Smith, Lt.-Col. D.
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A. A. H.Ward, Group Capt. The Hon. G. R.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Marples, Capt. A. E.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Foster, Brig. J. G. (Northwich)Marsden, Capt. A.Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir I. (Lonsdale)Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)Wheatley, Lt.-Col. M. J.
Gage, Lt.-Col. C.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Maude, J. C.White, Maj. J. B. (Canterbury)
Gammans, Capt. L. D.Mellor, Sir J.Williams, Lt.-Cdr. G. W. (T'nbr'ge)
Gates, Maj. E. E.Molson, A. H. E.Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Glossop, C. W. H.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Glyn, Sir R.Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)York, C.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.Young, Maj. Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Gridley, Sir A.Nicholson, G.
Grimston, R. V.Nield, B.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Major Mott-Radclyffe and
Hare, Lieut.-Col. Hon. J. H.Nutting, A.Mr. Drewe.
Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.Orr-Ewing, I. L.Mr. Drewe.

with the Bill, because the intention of the Government is that it should last for five years and this Amendment is for one year. With great respect to a senior Member, I submit he is confusing two things which are not alike.

It is the intention of the Government, if the House permits, to take powers for five years to do something, but that does not mean that everything it does must necessarily endure for five years. On the contrary many of the Orders, on the face of them, will be for a less period, and therefore that argument against the Amendment seems to me also to fail.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 157; Noes, 311.

NOES.

Adams, Capt. H. R. (Balham)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Martin, J. H.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Maxton, J.
Adamson, Mrs. J. L.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mayhew, Maj. C. P.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Fairhurst, F.Medland, H. M.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Farthing, W. J.Messer, F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Follick, M.Middleton, Mrs. L.
Alpass, J. H.Foot, M. M.Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Montague, F.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Gaitskell, H. T. N.Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Attewell, H. C.Gallacher, W.Morley, R.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Gibbins, J.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Austin, H. L.Gibson, C. W.Morris, R. H. (Carmarthen)
Awbery, S. S.Gilzean, A.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)
Ayles, W. H.Glanville, J. E.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham)
Bacon, Miss A.Goodrich, H. E.Moyle, A.
Balfour, A.Gould, Mrs. B. AyrtonMurray, J. D.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Nally, W.
Barstow, P. G.Grenfell, D. R.Naylor, T. E.
Barton, C.Grey, C. F.Neal, H. (Claycross)
Bechervaise, A. E.Grierson, E.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Bellenger, F. J.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Benson, G.Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)Noel-Buxton, Lady
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A.Gunter, Capt. R. J.Oldfield, W. H.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C.Guy, W. H.Oliver, G. H.
Binns, J.Hale, L.Orbach, M.
Blackburn, A. R.Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)Paget, R. T.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A.Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Blyton, W. R.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Parker, J.
Boardman, H.Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Parkin, Flt-Lieut. B. T.
Bottomley, A. G.Hardy, E. A.Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Harrison, J.Paton, J. (Norwich)
Bowen, Capt. R.Hastings, Dr. SomervillePeart, Capt. T. F.
Bowles, F. G.Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Perrins, W.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)Herbison, Miss M.Piratin, P.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Hicks, G.Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Hobson, C. R.Popplewell, E.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Holman, P.Porter, G. (Leeds)
Brown, George (Belper)Horabin, T. L.Pritt, D. N.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)House, G.Proctor, W. T.
Brown, W. J. (Rugby)Hoy, J.Pryde, D. J.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Hubbard, T.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Buchanan, G.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Randall, H. E.
Burden, T. W.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Ranger, J.
Burke, W. A.Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Rees-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Reeves, J.
Byers, Lt.-Col. F.Hynd H. (Hackney, C.)Reid, T. (Swindon)
Callaghan, James.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Rhodes, H.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Janner, B.Richards, R.
Champion, A. J.Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Chater D.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Robens, A.
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. E. O. (Merioneth)
Clitherow, R.Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Roberts, G. O. (Caernarvonshire)
Cluse, W. S.Keenan, W.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Cobb, F. A.Kenyon, C.Rogers, G. H. R.
Cocks, F. S.Key, C. W.Royle, C.
Coldrick, W.King, E. M.Sargood, R.
Collick, P.Kinley, J.Scollan, T.
Collindridg, F.Kirby, B. V.Scott-Elliot, W.
Colman, Miss G. M.Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.Segal, Sq. Ldr. S.
Comyns, Dr. L.Lee, F. (Hulme)Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.
Cook, T. F.Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Shawcross, Cmdr. C. N. (Widnes)
Corlett, Dr. J.Leonard, W.Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)
Corvedale, Maj. ViscountLevy, Lt. B. W.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Cove, W. G.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Shurmer, P.
Crawley, Flt.-Lieul. A.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Silkin, L.
Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng. Univ.)Silverman, J. (Erdington).
Daggar, G.Lipson, D. L.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Daines, P.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Simmons, C. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Longden, F.Skeffington, A. M.
Davies, A. E. (Burslem)Lyne, A. W.Skeffington-Lodge, Lt. T. C.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)McAllister, G.Skinnard, F. W.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield)McEntee, V. La T.Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Mack, J. D.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Deer, G.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
de Freitas, Sqn.-Ldr. G.Maclean, N. (Govan)Smith, T. (Normanton)
Diamond, J.McLeavy, F.Snow, Capt. J. W.
Dodds, N. N.MacMillan, M. K.Solley, L. J.
Donovan, T.McNeil, H.Sorensen, R. W.
Douglas, F. C. R.Macpherson, T. (Romford)Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Driberg, T. E. N.Mainwaring, W. H.Sparks, J. A.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Stamford, W.
Dumpleton, C. W.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Steele, T.
Durbin, E. F. M.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Stewart, Maj. M. (Fulham, E.)
Dye, S.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Stokes, R. R.

Stubbs, A. E.Viant, S. P.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Summerskill, Dr. EdithWadsworth, G.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Swingler, Capt. S.Walkden, E.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Symonds, Maj. A. L.Walker, P. C. G. (Smethwick)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Williamson, T.
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)Willis, E.
Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Warbey, W. N.Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Watkins, T. E.Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)Wilson, J. H.
Thomas, J. R. (Dover)Weitzman, D.Wise, Major F. J.
Thomas, George (Cardiff)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)Woodburn, A.
Thomson, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)Wells, Maj. W. T. (Walsall)Woods, G. S.
Thorneycroft, H.White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)Wyatt, Maj. W.
Thurtle, E.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)Yates, V. F.
Tiffany, S.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Titterington, M. F.Whittaker, J. E.Younger, Maj. The Hon. K. G.
Tolley, L.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.Zilliacus, K.
Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.Wilkes, Maj. L.
Turner-Samuels, M.Wilkins, W. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ungoed-Thomas, Maj. L.Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. EllenMr. Mathers and Mr. Pearson.
Vernon, Maj. W. F.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)

On apoint of Order, Mr. Deputy-Chairman. Might I ask if the Opposition Whips would exercise greater influence over their flock in preventing them from obstructing the Government side—

5.45 P.m.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 13, at end, insert:

"Provided that such adaptations shall not include any new authority or extension of authority to take possession or control, on behalf of His Majesty of any property or undertaking or to acquire on behalf of His Majesty any property other than land or to enter and search any premises; and provided that such adaptations shall not provide for the amending of any enactment, for suspending the operation of any enactment and for applying any enactment with or without modification and shall not provide for requiring persons to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of His Majesty."
As the Committee are aware, this Clause makes it possible to adapt to the new purposes set out in the Clause any Regulations in Parts III and IV of the General Regulations as well as certain others. I do not know whether hon. Members realise it, but the Regulations in Parts III and IV which are still in existence run to something like 160 pages of print. They differ very much in character. Some of them are extremely drastic and go the full length to which they are entitled to go under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts of 1939 and 1940, under which they are made. Many others are by no means so drastic. I think it was the constant policy of the Coalition Government while we remained together never to take much more drastic powers than the needs of a particular situation demanded. Accordingly, many of these Regulations do not go anything like so far in the way of strict control as it would have been legally possible for them to do.

I have always understood that the proper purpose of Clause 1 is to enable existing controls to be continued for a period, subject to comparatively minor modifications or relaxations, and that the aim of both the Government and ourselves is to taper off gradually the operation of existing Regulations; only they propose to do it in a halting and gradual way and we had proposed to do it more quickly. I gather that our aim is the same, although our pace would be very different. If that is so, I take it that the Government are of the same mind as we are here, that there should be no tightening up of existing powers. Existing powers may be continued or to some extent modified or relaxed. They may be abolished altogether ultimately, but they will not be tightened. I have seen or heard nothing in the course of the Debates on the Bill to suggest that the Government were going to tighten up, in the course of adapting under Clause 1.

I am therefore very hopeful that the Government will accept the Amendment, but before I leave it to them to say whether they will do so or not I think it is right that I should explain in a little more detail what the Amendment actually does. Hon. Members will remember that the framework of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, is that in the first Sub-section general powers are given for making Regulations for certain purposes there set out, to secure:
"the public safety, the defence of the Realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of any war…and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community."
It was thought that those general powers would not be enough for war-time, and therefore there were superadded to them further general powers, set out in Subsections (2), (3) and (4). Sub-section (2, b) authorises:
"the taking of possession or control…of any property or undertaking
the acquisition, on behalf of His Majesty, of any property other than land."
Paragraph (c) authorises:
"the entering and search of any premises,"
and paragraph (d) authorises:
"amending any enactment…suspending the operation of any enactment,"
and so on.

My proposition is this: In so far as any existing Defence Regulation contained in the book does not make use of those special powers contained in Sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) of Section 1 of the 1939 Act, those special powers should not now be imported into any Regulation for the first time. The point is made even more important when we come to the Act of 1940, the Dunkirk Act, if I may call it so, which authorises Regulations,
"for requiring persons to place themselves, their services, and their property at the disposal of His Majesty,"
where it appears to him to be necessary or expedient for the same purposes. If those powers were not necessary at or after the crisis of the war, plainly, and I think everybody would agree, they ought not now to be imported into any Regulation for the first time.

Therefore I hardly think that the right hon. Gentleman can raise any objection to the last half of the Amendment, namely, where it says that the adaptations which are contemplated shall not include
"any new authority or extension of authority,"
shall not, for example, require persons to place themselves, their lives or their property at the disposal of His Majesty. I can hardly think that the right hon. Gentleman wants to bring in that kind of control in circumstances where it does not already exist. I will go further than that and say that I see nothing in what has been said to suggest, for example, that there should be power to take possession of "any undertaking," in circumstances where that power does not already exist, or that there should be power to acquire property in circumstances where the power does not exist already. The purpose of the Clause is adaptation and not extension of control, and I want to make that point clear and explicit on the face of the Bill.

I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman or somebody else may say, "Why was not that thought necessary in the original Coalition draft of the Bill? Why did those words not appear there?" For a very simple reason. If you are setting out to get rid of the controls within two years it is not sense that anybody should begin by trying to tighten them up. Obviously, nobody could have any such intention. If you are seeking, however, to maintain those controls for five ears, there is a very distinct danger that certain persons may be tempted to start by tightening them up. Therefore, our object is to get from the Government a clear statement. I hope that they will accept the Amendment, but if they will not, let them give us some alternative which may make it clear that their policy is not to tighten control but, at the worst, to maintain it and at the best to relax it.

May I say that I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken, for the very clear way in which he has put the Amendment before the Committee? I can deal with the last sentences he used, in order to illustrate a point. He said that he hoped there would be adaptation and not extension of control, but it is necessary that we should be able to extend all the powers that we now have to the new purposes for which the Bill is designed. I am afraid that, if that principle is accepted, at any rate as the Government's view on the matter, it will be seen that we cannot accept the limiting words which this proviso proposes to impose on us. I have with me my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply. He maybe faced in the very near future with the difficulty of maintaining the new purposes, including the purposes of how we are going to demobilise men—against which the Opposition voted this afternoon—of acquiring property, taking over undertakings, and doing things of that description. We do not desire to be limited in any way in our efforts to deal with that matter.

Again, when it comes to dealing with the components of houses for the housing pro- gramme of the Government, we may have to take over undertakings that, I am advised, we should be precluded from taking over if we did not have the powers and if we were limited by the wording of the Amendment. More important than all, it may be necessary to extend Defence Regulation 55 to regulate the production and distribution of essential, rationed commodities. That inevitably involves an extension of authority to take possession and control. With the general attitude that the right hon. and learned Gentleman attributed to the Government, that we do not desire to use these powers in any way oppressively, I agree, but we must arm ourselves, in view of the situation in which the country now is with the necessary powers to deal with situations as they arise. If we should propose—of course, we continually come back to this point—any Regulation that is harsh and uncomfortable, the House can Pray against it, and after it has been annulled and its usefulness is finished, or even if we use it harshly, the House has adequate remedies in order to ensure that our wrongdoing shall be brought to light. I therefore hope that the Committee will be willing not to limit the Clause in the way that the right hon. and learned Gentleman desires

We are faced—and I repeat what I said on another Amendment as it is applicable to this Amendment—with the matter of housing, with getting on with the task of restoring the export trade, and with other problems which confront the country. It is a situation that has never existed in the history of the country, and no matter what Government had been on this side of the House I believe they would have had to come to the House for these powers. The mere fact that the Coalition Government introduced the Bill is an indication that they felt that some such powers as these were necessary. I must remind hon. Members opposite that no matter how fiercely they denounced controls at the General Election, if we take at the value they put on them the bogies they raised as to our intentions with regard to controls, we might say, in submitting the Bill to the House, that we are astonished at our own moderation.

6.0 p.m.

I agree that it is difficult to draw a dividing line here, and if there is any point on which the Government have a genuine case, I am not going to try and stress any difference of opinion. The right hon. Gentleman sought to justify a few of the things to which we take exception, but he has not attempted to justify the rest. Suppose I go through this Amendment and see which are the bits which the right hon. Gentleman thinks he would like to keep and which are the bits he agrees to give away. Perhaps in that way we may be able to narrow down the issue to some extent. Let us take the first words:

"Provided that such adaptations shall not include any new authority or extension of authority."
I can see that he has a point for extension of authority and that, if he has Regulation 55, which contains drastic powers of this character to do certain things, he may want to extend it slightly to do some more things of the same kind. He did not say a word, however, to justify any new authority being taken; he dealt only with an extension of existing authority. So I think he can give us "new authority." The next words are:
"to take possession or control, on behalf of His Majesty, of any property or undertaking."
I understand that he may want to take possession of property—the Minister of Supply appears to want to do that—but surely he does not want to take possession of undertakings at this time of day, because that is a penal provision if an undertaking is not doing what it should be doing. Certain cases have come up during the war of undertakings being taken over. Surely we are not going to carry that over into peace-time. Therefore, I think the right hon. Gentleman may want to keep authority to take over property, but he ought to give up authority to take over an undertaking. The next words in the Amendment are:
"or to acquire on behalf of His Majesty any property other than land or to enter and search any premises."
Perhaps there is a case for having power to acquire a certain number of chattels, although that wants to be narrowly regarded, but surely there is no need for extra powers to enter and search premises. That was a shorthand method adopted during the war, and surely we can now get back to the ordinary law of the land with regard to this. The Amendment goes on:
"and provided that such adaptations shall not provide for the amending of any enactment, for suspending the operation of any enactment and for applying any enactment with or without modification."
Here we come to a crucial question. It has been laid down again and again by the Ministers' Powers Report and by all manner of authorities that delegated legislation ought not to have the power of altering Acts of Parliament. There is no reason for it at all. There was a reason in war-time when things had to be done suddenly. An emergency might arise, the House might not be sitting, and we might have to pass a Defence Regulation within a matter of hours, certainly a matter of days, which might have great repercussions on existing Acts of Parliament which it was necessary to alter. Now in peace-time, however, when we can see ahead, when the House sits regularly, there is no need to continue a power to alter enactments by Regulation. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman at least to give this up. Finally, there is the question of
"requiring persons to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of His Majesty."
The right hon. Gentleman did not say a word about that in his reply. It is not only a war-time power, but a power that was only introduced at the crucial period of the war. I agree that the right hon. Gentleman has a partial case on the first third of the Amendment, but he has no case on the second third about modification of enactments. If he can show that he has a case on the third third for the extension of this power into peace-time, it gives one a poor view of the kind of world into which the right hon. Gentleman is to project us. I hope that he will give that part up as well. Therefore, I would ask for the acceptance of five-sixths of my Amendment—the second third and the third third in toto, and one-half of the first third.

I must congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman on his plausibility and on the estimate he makes of my generosity. I will make him this offer, that I will reconsider one-sixth of the Amendment, that is, the question of entering or searching any premises. I admit that I would like to reconsider that. After all, we have extended the scope of the Bill. That was one of the objections that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) had on the Second Reading of the Bill. We have further extended the scope of the Bill by the Amendment for making the life of demobilised men easier, which we have already passed to-day. Therefore, it may be that on that we shall require some new authority. On the question of undertakings, I endeavoured specifically to reply to that in my earlier remarks. If we make a Regulation and someone does not play the game under the Regulation, it may be necessary in the national interest in the circumstances of our time to acquire or exercise control over the undertaking, and we mean to do it.

With regard to enactments we are, as we were intended to be, the victims of the action of the "Caretaker" Government. We have to deal with this matter between now and 24th February next, because after that date our power to make adaptations and so on vanishes. There are a few Measures that will have to be considered by this House between now and 24th February other than the Amendment of Sections and Sub-sections of Acts of Parliament that may be necessary to enable us to discharge the duties we have taken on ourselves. Therefore, we must rely on our ability to deal in a Defence Regulation with minor points in enactment that may require modification or adaptation. What I have said earlier about undertakings applies to the last phrases in the Amendment. We are determined that we are not going to be obstructed in our efforts to place this country where, in our opinion, it should be, with regard to social comfort at home, to starting up the export trade and to any of the problems that arise during the reconstruction period. We asked for a mandate from the country to be able to do this, and on 26th July we obtained it. We intend to carry it out.

May I ask the Home Secretary when he proposes to tell the House that he is departing in this Bill completely from the Explanatory Memorandum which appears on the cover of the Bill? That Memorandum, referring to this Clause, says:

"This clause proposes to confer no power to make fresh Defence Regulations,"
but only a power to extend the scope of those Regulations to new purposes and to adapt them in such a way as to effect this new purpose. Now we hear from the Home Secretary that by "adaptations" he means any form of alteration, qualification and extension of existing Defence Regulations. What is the difference between taking a power to make new Defence Regulations and taking a power to alter existing ones in any direction and particular and to any extent? Surely it becomes farcical to speak of making no new Regulations when the Minister refuses steadfastly any kind of limitation on the alterations he can make. Under this Clause he can take three words of a Regulation and completely alter its whole sense and purpose by what he calls adaptation and extension. It is virtually wasting the time of the Committee to discuss a Bill which is completely at variance, on the Minister's own argument, with the Memorandum which is intended to convey the sense of the Bill.

The assurance that the Home Secretary will reconsider the searching of premises at least gives us some confidence that he will not become known as the Fouché of the present regime. That is the first small measure of satisfaction we have been able to extract from the discussions to-day. I thought that the hon. Gentleman who intervened to ask the Whips on this side to suppress further obstruction on our part unconsciously and innocently expressed the real spirit of the party opposite. The more we discuss this Measure and the more we hear about it, the more we see that it has all the hallmarks of coming totalitarianism plus the base effrontery of confiscation. [Laughter.] The prophet has always been laughed at by the fools, and that custom does not change as centuries go on. The psychology that we see opposite is influenced by the Kerensky motif, and I am not certain that we are not witnessing a Kerensky regime in action, a regime stronger than the amiable gentlemen who sit on the Front Bench at the moment. Many hon. Members behind them are working and looking towards that day. I give the Home Secretary that warning.

I really rose to ask the Home Secretary a question. He said that his party asked for a clear mandate, that they got it, and that the acceptance of any part of this Amendment would be false to the mandate. May I ask him whether he or any member of his party, in the policy put forward at the General Election, said that the Labour Party, if put into power, would require persons to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of His Majesty? If they said that during the Election, is that now definitely the policy of this Government?

6.15 p.m.

As a matter of fact, hon. Members on that side of the Committee have always been in the habit of grabbing property. This is putting an end to the grab, and getting control in such a way as will bring about a better situation. The hon. Member says that it is a very poor world we are working for. I hope it is very poor from his point of view. I shall be a very happy man if it is a poor world from the point of view of hon. Members on the other side. I would like to draw attention to the twisted Conservative minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. You see what we had to face when we had Tories sitting on this Front Bench. There is not a trick or manoeuvre they were not prepared to use; the Tory mentality is always ready to deceive, to cheat and to fraud.

Is it in Order for the hon. Gentleman to make such defamatory references to hon. Gentlemen on these benches?

"Cheat" and the other words used would not be in Order if applied to individuals.

The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) specifically named the hon. Gentleman who represents the Abbey Division of Westminster (Sir H. Webbe) in association with his general remarks.

I specifically linked the hon. Gentleman with the party to which he belongs, which is notorious as a party which has cheated and defrauded the people of the country.

May I say that personally I do not in the least mind remarks of that kind? I have sat so long opposite the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council that I am quite used to it.

Now that oil has been poured on troubled waters, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will proceed.

I conclude by saying that I heard many speeches made by Labour candidates, and I saw many election addresses, and one thing Labour candidates insisted on was that the people of this country should vote for a Government that would take control of property and use that property in the best interests of the people. There is no question at all about the will of the people or about the mandate they gave. This Government, representing the desires of the people, must insist on every control necessary, so that when the lads come back from the Army they will be employed, and will not have to go through what happened after the last war, when they came back and were walking about homeless and unemployed.

I hope that the people of this country will realise that the only support there is for the Home Secretary, when he says he wishes to suspend any enactment by Regulation, and to conscript the people by additional Regulations under this Bill, comes from one of the two Communist Members in the House. In the course of the Election I read speeches by members of the party which now forms the Government, and they were against conscription in certain cases. We are asking that the Bill shall not contain provision to require persons to place themselves at the disposal of His Majesty. That is conscription.

I have a volume of letters—which I know is equalled by those in the possession of every hon. Member—from men in the Services who are praying that they may be demobilised. Yet here comes our fatherly Home Secretary to the Committee asking for additional powers to conscript members of the public for the purposes of this Bill. I hope that the Home Secretary and those hon. Members who support him will look askance at the support they are receiving from the Communist Party.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, to leave out "in force" and to insert "made."

This Amendment goes with the succeeding one; they are of a drafting character. It has been the practice to save existing subordinate instruments by a provision saying that they are to have effect notwithstanding the Amendment. These saving provisions were not included in the Regulations themselves but form separate articles of the Order in Council making the Amendment. It is necessary that these subordinate orders and directions, if they are still in force, should be preserved by Clause 1 to 3 of the Bill. When the Amendments are made, the Sub-section will refer to:
"all orders and other instruments made under the Regulations and in force at the date when the Order in Council comes into operation."
and this will adequately describe the instruments in question.

Amendment agreed to.

Further amendment made: In page 2, line 16, after "Regulation" insert "and in force."—[ Mr. Oliver.]

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