Clause 2. — (Power of Minister of Health to assist rural district councils by acquiring land and erecting houses.)

Orders of the Day — Housing (Rural Authorities) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 14th July 1931.

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Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, alter the word "is," to insert the words: satisfied that the financial resources of such council are insufficient and that he is I move this Amendment because I think it desirable to insert a provision that the Minister should be satisfied that the financial resources of a council are insufficient before he undertakes to give assistance in the manner set out in the Clause. I understand that the Minister is prepared to accept an Amendment on these lines and I reserve any further remarks on the subject, until I have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, one way or the other.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

My right hon. Friend has no objection to accepting an Amendment to this effect but I would suggest a different form of words. Perhaps the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment, in favour of an Amendment to insert in line 4, after the word "satisfied," the words "that their financial resources are insufficient and."

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I am willing to accept those words, and I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, after the word "satisfied," to insert the words: that their financial resources are insufficient and

Photo of Reverend Roderick Kedward Reverend Roderick Kedward , Ashford

I am afraid that we are putting in too many of these restrictions. They are designed to penalise backward rural councils, which have no definite intention of proceeding with housing, and yet I fear it is the rural worker who really suffers. It is he who bears the penalty and not the rural authority, because he has to go on paying a high rent and living in a wretched little cottage. All the penalties which are supposed to fall on these defaulting authorities actually fall on the individuals concerned. I am a little alarmed lest so many restrictions should be put in the Bill that they will press hardly on the rural workers.

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

May I point out to the bon. Gentleman that only a limited sum of money is to be voted by Parliament, and, if it is divided among the parishes, it will mean only four cottages a parish. There must be some discretion left to the Minister as to which parishes shall have the cottages. If we carry out the hon. Member's idea, we shall have to have a great housing scheme and take it away from the local authorities altogether. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I know that hon. Members stand for nationalisation, but I should be sorry to see them go to their constituencies and preach that doctrine to the local authorities. The Minister has suggested an Amendment which is quite acceptable to hon. Members on this side, and, I am satisfied, to the majority of the Committee. It will put in a reasonable safeguard, and it will ensure that the houses will go to the districts that most need them.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, to leave out the words "no such agreement as is mentioned in," and to insert instead thereof the words: the council of the county is unwilling to put into operation the provisions of. This is a minor point which provides that before this Clause is put into operation the council shall definitely refuse to take advantage of Section 33 of the Housing Act of 1930. It is different phraseology from that in the Bill, and it makes it more definite so far as the attitude of the council is concerned.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

My right hon. Friend is willing to accept this Amendment with some variation in the wording. His suggested Amendment is in page 3, line 4, to leave out from the word "that" to the word "Sub-section" in line 5, and to insert instead thereof the words: the council of the county is unwilling to give assistance to them under.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, to leave out from the word "that" to the word "Sub-section" in line 5, and to insert instead thereof thereof the words: the council of the county is unwilling to give assistance to them under.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

Will the hon. Lady tell us what is the precise meaning of these words? Do they mean that if a county council is unwilling to put the Act into operation an urban council will be empowered to do so? There have been eases in which an urban council was unwilling and a county council willing, and other cases in which the reverse was the position, and I only want to know whether it is the intention of the Amendment to deal with one or other of those cases.

Photo of Mr Henry Haslam Mr Henry Haslam , Horncastle

Will the Parliamentary Secretary be good enough to read out the first few lines of the Clause as they will be altered by these two manuscript Amendments which are being adopted, because it is a little difficult to follow it?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

The Clause as amended will read: the Minister, if he is requested by any such council so to do, and is satisfied that the council of the county is unwilling to give assistance to them under Sub-section (1) of Section thirty-three of the Housing Act, 1930, may In quoting that I have included the terms of a subsequent Amendment which we propose to accept.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

Will the hon. Lady tell us what is the intention of those words?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

Exactly what they say, neither more nor less.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 6, leave out from "1930" to the word "may" in line 7.—[Sir K. Wood.]

Photo of Reverend Roderick Kedward Reverend Roderick Kedward , Ashford

I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, after the word "county," to insert the words: or if, in view of the failure of a rural district council to remedy the housing needs of its district, he decides to exercise the powers conferred on him by Sections thirty-five and thirty-six of the aforesaid Act. I want to make sure that any defaulting authority will be dealt with by the Government—to be certain that not only will the Government act when a rural district council cannot undertake the task though willing, but that they will intervene in cases where a rural district council have no intention of carrying out this Act or any other. Though such cases may be few it is important that the Government should see that when legislation is passed it is not rendered inoperative because people are unwilling to carry it out. The agricultural workers who need these houses ought to be protected.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I hasten to give the hon. Member the assurance for which he asks. The Minister certainly will not hesitate to exercise the powers conferred upon him by the Act. It is a little difficult to give a precise statement, but the Minister will not exercise his default powers under this Act, but under the provisions of the Act of 1930. I do not think that anyone will be able to draw up a more complete or elaborate safeguard than that contained in Sections 35 and 36 of the Act of 1930, and we do not want to repeat provisions which are already in existence.

Photo of Reverend Roderick Kedward Reverend Roderick Kedward , Ashford

That assurance having been given by the hon. Lady, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Thomas Inskip Mr Thomas Inskip , Fareham

I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, after the word "may," to insert the words: subject to the provisions hereafter in this section contained and. May I ask your direction, Sir, as to this Amendment. It is introductory to the two Amendments that are a little farther down on the Paper. Shall I discuss both the points that are involved?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think perhaps that would best meet the convenience of the Committee.

Photo of Mr Thomas Inskip Mr Thomas Inskip , Fareham

Then it will be understood by the Committee, that the words which I now move are merely introductory to the two proposals contained in the two subsequent Amendments, standing in my name and in the names of other hon. Members. It may be that the Minister will be prepared to accept one of these proposals, if not both. The first proposal is that the House shall be made aware of any steps which the Minister may take to embark upon the rare and responsible task of stepping into the place of the rural district council and building on their behalf. It will be a serious responsibility and a new adventure which the Minister will be undertaking. I am sure that every hon. Member hopes that there will be sufficient enterprise and drive on the part of the rural councils, with the assistance that the Minister is empowered to give them under this Bill, to make it unnecessary for the Minister to acquire land and to set up a big building undertaking. If such an event should unfortunately be necessary, it is desirable that this House should be seized of the position and that the building adventure should not take place behind the back of Parliament. The Minister should lay before the House at the first opportunity a draft, specifying the nature of the details of such a proposal. Thus he would give an opportunity to the House to express an opinion. I should say no more about this proposal, because the advantages of the House being informed of what is about to take place are so obvious. Whether the House is likely to disagree with the proposals or not, it is desirable that the greatest publicity should be given to the circumstances in which the Minister will undertake the new task.

The second Amendment is of a wholly different character. It has nothing to do with the question of the provision of houses. It is one which, I respectfully think, is necessary to prevent inconvenience arising to any subject of the Crown. I think I am right in saying that the Minister of Health can sue and be sued for some limited purposes, but Clause 2 of the Bill provides that he is in certain circumstances to undertake the erection of houses on behalf and at the expense of the council. I am not sure as to the exact import of these words—whether they mean that he is to undertake this building in place of the council, or that he is to be deemed to be undertaking it as an agent on behalf of the council, that is to say, doing it as if they were doing it, with the consequence that the council would be liable to bear any responsibility or meet any liability that may be incurred in the course of the building operations or the acquisition of the land. In other Parliaments no parties have been more active than the Liberal party, as well as the party opposite, in protesting against the difficulty of a subject suing a Minister in connection with breaches of contract or wrongs that may have been done by the Minister in the course of his duty as a Minister of the Crown.

The Crown Proceedings Bill has been long on the tapis, but it has never yet reached the Royal Assent, and, if anyone wished to sue the Minister of Health, it would be necessary to go through the cumbrous procedure of a Petition of Right. But, supposing that a Minister acting on behalf of a council as a building authority should be so unfortunate as to cause injury to any subject of the Crown, either by way of personal injury, or by breach of contract, or by breaking some covenant which may affect the land which he has bought, it should be possible for the subject to sue the Minister, who is really acting on behalf of the rural district council, in the same way as he would be entitled to sue the rural district council. I think it would be undesirable if anyone who had been aggrieved by a breach of contract or an interference with his rights, perhaps by the commission of what is known as a nuisance, in the execution of any building operations, should be prevented from proceeding, in the county court for instance, for the recovery of perhaps quite a small debt, and should have to go to the High Court and go through the cumbrous procedure of a Petition of Right. It would be extremely burdensome to the subject, and inconvenient and contrary to all our modern ideas as to the way in which litigation between the Crown and the subject should take place. The House is still awaiting a Crown Proceedings Bill, but, pending the introduction of such a Measure, I suggest that, when we are giving a Minister new powers of trading, as we shall be under Clause 2, if it be passed, we ought to take care that the Minister is capable of being sued as if he were not a Minister acting on behalf of the Crown. I suggest that, whatever the Minister of Health may say about my first proposal, this second proposal can only be resisted on the ground that the Minister desires to shelter himself behind the archaic privilege by which Ministers of the Crown are still protected under the rather obsolete system of law which prevails to-day.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

The two questions raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman are quite different. As regards the first Amendment, I understand that it really deals, as the other does but in an entirely different way, with the suggested right of the Minister to take action and to build, under carefully prescribed conditions. As I understand the Amendment, its effect would be that, before we came to the assistance of a rural district council in an actual question of building houses, we should have to come to this House, and, indeed, to the other House, and present a statement of the proposed action, and we should not be able to take any action if either House resolved against it. That seems to me to be a quibbling Amendment. We have done our best to fence the Clause round so that there shall be no wild-cat schemes. We have put in every possible kind of restriction which we thought was fair and, as the Clause stands, the Minister must have the consent of the Treasury. Hon. Members opposite were begging for the assistance of the Treasury to keep an erring Minister straight who wanted to be extravagant. In this Clause, there has to be the approval of the Treasury. In the second place, this possibility of building will arise only where the county council refuses to take on the job. Last year, when the Housing Act default powers were included in the Bill, which enabled the Minister to come in over the head of the local authority to build, no suggestion was made that I remember as to any restriction of this kind, and, if it was not necessary in that case, I see no reason why it should be necessary now.

On the other point that the hon. and learned Gentleman raises I am advised that he is quite right on the matter of law, and I am not going to pretend to argue with him on that point, but, when he talks about sheltering behind archaic privileges, he sheltered behind them far longer than I have done. He speaks of the Crown Proceedings Bill, but this is a large matter which goes far beyond the scope of the relatively small amount of activity for which the Minister of Health will be responsible under this Bill. I should have thought the hon. and learned Gentleman, who understands far more about these things than I do, would appreciate that to attempt to deal with this problem of archaic privilege in a Rural Housing Bill is an attempt at piecemeal legislation of the worst possible kind. It is true that now the only possible course of action would be by way of Petition of Right, as I understand it. The proposal in the Amendment is to put the Minister in precisely the same position as a private person or company. There may be a case for doing that where his activities are on the same scale and on the same footing as those of a private person, but, where you have one small branch of housing, it seems to me ridiculous that the legal position should be altered by piece-meal legislation of this kind. It is clear, whatever may be the rights and obligations of Government Departments, that it raises a very serious constitutional issue which ought to be dealt with as a whole and ought not to be dealt with by a sidewind under this Bill. I hope the Committee will accept neither Amendment.

Photo of Mr Thomas Inskip Mr Thomas Inskip , Fareham

I shall say no more about the first Amendment. I think the Minister would have been well advised in the interests of all parties to lay before the House the general heads of these proposals for embarking upon this enterprise, but he is not prepared to accept it and I shall say no more about it. So far as the other matter is concerned, I am also prepared to leave it, but for a different reason. The Minister of Health has said that my proposal is an attempt to deal, by piecemeal legislation, with a big question. There are many precedents for doing it. There are many Acts of Parliament on the Statute Book which have made it possible for Ministers to sue and to be sued without what I call the archaic process of Petition of Right. But, as far as I am concerned personally, having raised the question and having begged of the Minister to accept the proposal, there is no object in pressing it. It is an Amendment which I really only move—not certainly in the interests of lawyers, because the present system encourages and makes litigation expensive—in the interests of the small folk who might possibly want to bring claims against the Minister, and will now be debarred from a process which, in the twentieth century, ought to be available to them by proceeding in the county court.

If the Minister, as guardian of the rights of the people, prefers that no litigant shall have these privileges, although there are many Acts of Parliament which have given him this privilege by way of what he calls piecemeal legislation, it hardly rests with me or anybody on this side of the Committee to press him. But, let it be known that, if on any future occasion anybody whose head is broken by some person acting on behalf of the Minister thinks that he has an action for damages, by the expressed wish of the Labour Minister it will be impossible for him to bring any action at all against the Minister, not even by Petition of Right. He will have to present a petition which may reach the highest fount of justice—the King—but, apart from that, he will have no protection, because the Minister of Health prefers to wait until the sweeping legislation to which I have referred is introduced. Or, similarly, if some humble person may be affronted by a breach of contract in the supply of bricks or timber or something of that sort, though he will be a little more fortunate than the other person—he will have some remedy in the courts of law—his remedy will not be in the county court, but in the High Court of Justice, with all the expense and trouble attendant upon a petition of right. If the Minister of Health so wills it and the Government of the Labour party so will it, so let it be. We have begged of them to take a course which will not be attended with so much inconvenience to humble private persons, but, if the Minister refuses, their blood shall be upon his head.

Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

I am a little sorry that my hon. and learned Friend is not pressing the second Amendment to a Division. I do not wish to say anything about the first Amendment, because clearly, if those matters are laid upon the Table of the House of Commons, probably no further action will be taken upon them; but I feel that the second Amendment raises a point of considerable substance, because here the Minister is taking new powers to act instead of a rural district authority. The rural district authority can be sued for any of these different legal rights that may be included, as my hon. and learned Friend has said, but, if you get a contract which has been taken over by the Minister of Health which is really being done on behalf of the rural district authority, you have to go through the whole archaic procedure of a Petition of Right, with the learned Attorney-General or the learned Solicitor-General appearing on behalf of the Crown and all the expense that that entails on the poor litigant if he is unsuccessful; whereas if, as a matter of fact, the contract was being carried on by the rural district authority it could be settled expeditiously, and cheaply in the local county court. I am surprised that the Minister, in undertaking these new powers, has not thought fit to get rid of the archaic procedure. The position is that he will only be making a new inroad into the procedure of petition of right which we all think is pretty well obsolete. I very much hope we shall divide against the Government on this Amendment, for they will otherwise be putting a large number of people who may not be well off, in the countryside where these undertakings are proceeded with, to this extra and prohibitive cost of going to law, which may in the end save the Treasury a little because none of then will dare to proceed by petition of right.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I was very sorry to see the hon. and learned Member running away in such a pitiable fashion from the Amendment which he has moved, at the first breath of opposition from the Minister in charge. It seemed to me that his proposal was a very reasonable one and that the arguments put forward by the Minister were unsound. For one thing, he said, "Well, you did not do it, and, therefore, why should I?" I thought the contention was that this Government was better than the last and that the standard adopted by the late Government was not necessarily one which the Labour Government should plead as being a justification for themselves doing nothing. The real argument seems to me to be that the present situation in regard to Petition of Right is wrong, as it is clearly admitted to be. Until you bring in a Bill dealing with the whole subject, you should not introduce fresh legislation which continues the same system. I hope the Minister will reconsider the matter and see whether he cannot accept what is an eminently sound and reasonable proposition.

Photo of Mr Henry Haslam Mr Henry Haslam , Horncastle

It hardly lies in the mouth of an hon. Member who sits on the benches below the Gangway to criticise anyone on these benches for running away. I hope we shall divide on this Amendment. The spectacle of a Socialist Minister in charge of the scheme telling the people that anyone who thinks he is injured has no remedy, is one which the country may very well take to heart.

Photo of Colonel Victor Cazalet Colonel Victor Cazalet , Chippenham

It seems incredible that the Minister should seek to shelter himself behind this archaic process of Petition of Right, when the simple fact of the case is that by accepting the Amendment he would only be extending common justice—especially to the poorer members of the community, who may desire to proceed against the Minister. For him to argue that his predecessor did not do it and that because another Act is to be introduced at a future date he should not do what is obviously the right and just thing, is a very despicable line for him to take. Obviously, he does not want to avoid doing whatever may be right and just in regard to anything which may happen in a rural district where he has taken over the work of building houses from a local authority. If he wishes to do the right thing he should accept the Amendment as the simple and obvious way of doing it. I hope we shall press this to a division.

Photo of Mr Edward Marjoribanks Mr Edward Marjoribanks , Eastbourne

It is with a feeling of astonishment that I have been asking myself why, in the Debate, no mention of Scotland has been made in the matter. I do not see the Lord Advocate in his place, but, if he were here, I should ask him for an undertaking in regard to Scotland. He is not here, but I see the Under-Secretary of State is here, and I want to know whether there are any implications of Scottish law which would make the situation different as between Scotland and this country? I think we should have a reply, if not from the Law Officers of the Crown for Scotland, at any rate from the Under-Secretary. There is a tradition of liberty in Scotland even greater than the tradition of liberty in England. I know that the system of jurisprudence is different in Scotland than in England. We had an example of that the other day. On this matter it may be that there are profound differences of legal procedure between Scotland and England, and as one who has a Scottish ancestry, although I represent an English constituency, I ask whether Scotland has its full rights in this matter. We ought to go more deeply into the Scottish situation. Are the rights of Scotsmen to be taken away? If so, how will Scotsmen appreciate the Under-Secretary sitting in his place and taking away their rights? This is only another example of the dreadful tendency of modern legislation towards bureaucracy that has been denounced as the Neo-Despotism by one of the highest legal authorities in the land. There is no defence, in logic, which the Minister can bring forward. He says that we are to wait for a general reform. Does he not think that it is more effective to go by stages and to produce a particular remedy, rather than rely upon a general remedy which may arise later? He is increasing the despotic powers which are being showered by the Socialist Government upon Government Departments. When the time comes for him to account for his stewardship in his constituency, it will be brought against him that he had deprived his own constituents of their proper rights against the Crown, that ho took the side of privilege when he might have taken the side of liberty, and that he took the side of bureaucracy when he might have taken the side of democracy.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Surely we are to have a reply from the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. I have no objection to the Law Officers being absent, but I do ask the Under-Secretary to make a statement on this question. As Under-Secretary of State I never hesitated to give an opinion, whenever possible, on a point of law, when there was not a Law Officer present. Surely we can have a word in regard to Scotland from the Under-Secretary.

12.0 m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

My hon. and gallant Friend is in exactly the same position as myself in regard to a knowledge of the law, in the absence of the Lord Advocate. I am advised that there is no such thing, so far as this case is con- cerned, as a Petition of Eight in Scotland. I also want to assure the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) that a Scotsman's love of liberty is only equalled by his respect for the law, and that, as far as we are concerned, we shall accept the decision of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

This is a point of some interest. It is a question whether the procedure by which a Scotsman can obtain redress against the Crown is the same as in England. In England the procedure is by Petition of Right, and we are now informed by the Under-Secretary, on the advice of his law officers for whom I have every respect, that there is no such procedure in Scotland, but the Under-Secretary will agree that there must be some procedure by which a subject in Scotland can obtain redress against the Crown. What is that procedure? That is a simple question to which I should like an answer.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

I have given an answer to both questions. I repeat what I have already said. I have nothing to add to it or to take from it. Scotsmen love liberty, and their love of liberty is only equalled by their respect for the law, and whatever decision Parliament may come to on this particular question they will accept.

Photo of Mr Thomas Inskip Mr Thomas Inskip , Fareham

The Under-Secretary is no doubt an attractive personality but he must not assume that he can practise the arts of a mountebank. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite must try and cultivate a little less tenderness. They are very fond of attacking everybody else. I say that the Under-Secretary has not given us any statement as to the position in Scotland. I do not blame him for not being able to do so, but whether we have a position in Scotland which is analogous to the Petition of Right in England or not there is no doubt that no more in Scotland than in England can the subject sue a Minister of the Crown without going through a very cumbrous process. The Under-Secretary uses language about a love of liberty in Scotland, but I am sure he does not intend to suggest that the subject is free to sue a Minister of the Crown in Scotland any more than he is in England.

Photo of Mr Edward Marjoribanks Mr Edward Marjoribanks , Eastbourne

The Under-Secretary has really got himself into a deplorable situation. He has said that Scotsmen have the profoundest respect for the law. A Scotsman has very little respect for anything of which he is ignorant and the Under-Secretary is profoundly ignorant of the plain Scottish law on this subject. I fail to believe that it is a tradition among Scotsmen to look with honour upon the law as some mysterious background to his existence to which he must be faithful until death takes him away. A Scotsman has an inquiring and metaphysical mind and wants to get to the bottom of things. [Interruption.] My Scottish blood has aroused in me a certain curiosity as to what is the analogous position in Scotland in regard to a Petition of Right. It may be that a Scotsman has a more difficult path to travel than an Englishman who goes by a Petition of Eight, and before we Scotsmen can go to a Division we must know what is the law in Scotland on this point.

Photo of Mr John Llewellin Mr John Llewellin , Uxbridge

The Under-Secretary for Scotland has told us that the Scottish people are very law-abiding, but surely we are entitled to know what is the remedy of the individual Scot in this matter? I have not the slightest doubt that the Under-Secretary is completely ignorant as to the answer. It should be a matter of interest to all of us to see that any humble subject of His Majesty has access to an easy remedy at law. I suspect that the Scot has no easier remedy than the Englishman.

Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Peebles and Southern

I am advised that there is the ordinary remedy to the citizen in Scotland of getting his rights considered through the Court of Session. He has the right to sue, if he feels that an injustice has been done to him; he can sue a Minister of the Crown through the Court of Session in the ordinary way.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I would like to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again" in order to secure the presence of the Lord Advocate. Here we are dealing with a question of vast importance to subjects in Scotland and we have had only one short observation from the Under-Secretary. Where is the Lord Advocate? He ought to be here to defend the Government's attitude towards this Amendment; he ought to be here to interpret to us the law of Scotland on this reasonable and very grave Amendment. But he is not here. Is he sitting over the haggis and the flowing native beverage of Scotland? Where is he?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) no doubt is a good judge of indecency. We are asking a perfectly fair question. Any Scottish Member would say that it is the duty of the Lord Advocate to be here tonight. He is the spokesman of the Government on all legal questions affecting Scotland. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you will accept a Motion for the Adjournment in order that the Lord Advocate may be here. The Lord Advocate, who is a privileged Member of the Administration and who ought to give the Committee some advice on this point, is absent. The members of the Socialist party who are interrupting me know that it is the duty of Ministers to be present in the House and to explain every question which affects the administration of their Department. The Lord Advocate treats the Committee with the utmost contempt. The Eleven o'Clock Rule has been suspended and the Lord Advocate is not here. The Lord Advocate is enjoying himself, whereas we in this Committee have a perfect right— [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) interrupts me, but there never was a more determined exponent of the duties of Ministers to this House than the right hon. Gentleman. When the right hon. Gentleman has achieved his ambition to sit on that side of the House, perhaps he will be able to deal with the Lord Advocate. I ask you, Sir, to accept this Motion because this is a matter on which I feel we must have advice from the Lord Advocate. We have the greatest respect for him, but his dereliction of duty is extremely grave, and, with all respect, the Minister of Health and his charming Under-Secretary are no substitutes for the great legal ability of the Lord Advocate. If they will search the West End and find the Lord Advocate and put him on the Front Bench it would be well for the proceedings of this Committee.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 82; Noes, 163.

Division No. 399.]AYES.[12.12 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelGlassey, A. E.Rathbone, Eleanor
Albery, Irving JamesGlyn, Major R. G. C.Remer, John R.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Greene, W. P. CrawfordRothschild, J. de
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGriffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Gritten, W. G. HowardSandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bracken, B.Gunston, Captain D. W.Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Broadbent, Colonel J.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenrySmith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Haslam, Henry C.Smithers, Waldron
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Southby, Commander A. R. J
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur p.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Campbell, E. T.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Thomson, Sir F.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Inskip, Sir ThomasTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Christle, J. A.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Train, J.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Kindersley, Major G. M.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Colville, Major D. J.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Warrender, Sir Victor
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)Wayland, Sir William A.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Llewellin, Major J. J.Wells, Sydney R.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)Lockwood, Captain J. H.White, H. G.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Long, Major Hon. EricWilliams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Edmondson, Major A. J.Mander, Geoffrey le M.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Elliot, Major Waiter E.Marjoribanks, EdwardWomersley, W. J.
Everard, W. LindsayMerriman, Sir F. BoydWood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Foot, IsaacMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Ford, Sir P. J.Nall-Cain, A. R. N.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)Sir George Penny and Captain
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. HamiltonOliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Austin Hudson.
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Mathers, George
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Matters, L. W.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherGrundy, Thomas W.Maxton, James
Alpass, J. H.Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Messer, Fred
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Middleton, G.
Arnott, JohnHall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Morley, Ralph
Aske, Sir RobertHall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Ayles, WalterHardie, David (Rutherglen)Mort, D. L.
Barr, JamesHardie, G. D. (Springburn)Muff, G.
Batey, JosephHaycock, A. W.Murnin, Hugh
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Hayes, John HenryNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Benson, G.Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Noel Baker, P. J.
Bowen, J. W.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Palin, John Henry
Broad, Francis AlfredHerriotts, J.Paling, Wilfrid
Brockway, A. FennerHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Bromley, J.Hoffman, P. C.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Brothers, M.Horrabin, J. F.Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Potts, John S
Buchanan, G.John, William (Rhondda, West)Price, M. P.
Burgess, F. G.Johnston, Rt. Hon. ThomasQuibell, D. J. K.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Kelly, W. T.Raynes, W. R.
Charleton, H. C.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. ThomasRichards, R.
Chater, DanielLansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Clarke, J. S.Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)Ritson, J.
Cluse, W. S.Law, Albert (Bolton)Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLawrence, SusanRomeril, H. G.
Compton, JosephLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cripps, Sir StaffordLeach, W.Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Daggar, GeorgeLee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Sanders, W. S.
Dalton, HughLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Sawyer, G. F.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)Lees, J.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Leonard, W.Sherwood, G. H.
Duncan, CharlesLewis, T. (Southampton)Shillaker, J. F.
Ede, James ChuterLindley, Fred WSimmons, C. J.
Edge, Sir WilliamLongbottom, A. W.Sinkinson, George
Edmunds, J. E.Longden, F.Sitch, Charles H.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lunn, WilliamSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Egan, W. H.MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)McElwee, A.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)McEntee, V. L.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gibbins, JosephMcKinlay, A.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Gill, T. H.McShane, John JamesSnowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Gossling, A. G.Mansfield, W.Sorensen, R.
Gould, F.Marley, J.Stephen, Campbell
Gray, MilnerMarshall, FredStrauss, G. R.
Sullivan, J.Wallace, H. W.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Thurtle, ErnestWellock, WilfredWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Tinker, John JosephWelsh, James (Paisley)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Toole, JosephWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Tout, W. J.Westwood, Joseph
Townend, A. E.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Vaughan, DavidWilkinson, Ellen C.Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. William
Viant, S. P.Williams, David (Swansea, East)Whiteley.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 59.

Division No. 400.]AYES.[12.21 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hardie, G. D, (Springburn)Price, M. P.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Haycock, A. W.Quibell, D. J. K.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherHenderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Alpass, J. H.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Rathbone, Eleanor
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Raynes, W. R.
Arnott, JohnHarriotts, J.Richards, R.
Aske, Sir RobertHirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Ayles, WalterHoffman, P. C.Ritson, J.
Barr, JamesHorrabin, J. F.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwish)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Hudson, James H. (Hudderefield)Romeril, H. G.
Benson, G.John, William (Rhondda, West)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Bowen, J. W.Johnston, Rt. Hon. ThomasRothschild, J. de
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Broad, Francis AlfredKelly, W. T.Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Brockway, A. FennerKennedy, Rt. Hon. ThomasSanders, W. S.
Brothers, M.Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSawyer, G. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Law, Albert (Bolton)Sherwood, G. H.
Buchanan, G.Lawrence, SusanShillaker, J. F.
Burgess, F. G.Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Simmons, C. J.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Sinkinson, George
Charleton, H. C.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Sitch, Charles H.
Chater, DanielLees, J.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Clarke, J. S.Leonard, W.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLewis, T. (Southampton)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Lindley, Fred W.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Compton, JosephLongbottom, A. W.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Cripps, Sir StaffordLongden, F.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Daggar, GeorgeLunn, WilliamSorensen, R.
Dalton, HughMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Stephen, Campbell
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Strauss, G. R.
Denman, Hon. R. D.McElwee, A.Sullivan, J.
Duncan, CharlesMcEntee, V. L.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Ede, James ChuterMcKinlay, A.Thurtle, Ernest
Edge, Sir WilliamMcShane, John JamesTinker, John Joseph
Edmunds, J. E.Mander, Geoffrey le M.Toole, Joseph
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Mansfield, W.Tout, W. J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Marley, J.Townend, A. E.
Egan, W. H.Marshall, FredVaughan, David
Foot, IsaacMathers, GeorgeViant, S. P.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Matters, L. W.Wallace, H. W.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Maxton, JamesWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Messer, FredWellock, Wilfred
Gibbins, JosephMiddleton, G.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Gill, T. H.Morley, RalphWalsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Glassey, A. E.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Westwood, Joseph
Gossling, A. G.Mort, D. L.White, H. G.
Gould, F.Murnin, HughWhiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gray, MilnerNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Noel Baker, P. J.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Grundy, Thomas W.Palin, John HenryWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Paling, WilfridWilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)Phillips, Dr. MarlonTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hardie, David (Rutherglen)Potts, John S.Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. William Whiteley.
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelBracken, B.Colville, Major D. J.
Albery, Irving JamesBraithwaite, Major A. N.Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Broadbent, Colonel J.Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftCampbell, E. T.Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Elliot, Major Walter E.
Everard, W. LindsayLamb, Sir J. Q.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Ford, Sir P. J.Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. HamiltonLlewellin, Major J. J.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Long, Major Hon. EricWard, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Greene, W. P. CrawfordMarjoribanks, EdwardWarrender, Sir Victor
Gritten, W. G. HowardMerriman, Sir F. BoydWayland, Sir William A.
Gunston, Captain D. W.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wells, Sydney R.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryNall-Cain, A. R. N.Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Haslam, Henry C.Remer, John R.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)Womersley, W. J.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Shepperson, Sir Ernest WhittomeTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Inskip, Sir ThomasSmith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir
Kindersley, Major G. M.Smithers, WaldronGeorge Penny.

Bill read the Third time, and passed with an Amendment.