Orders of the Day — Second Schedule. — (Section 1 (2) of and the Schedule to the Principal Act as amended by this Act.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 1946.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this he the Second Schedule to the Bill."

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

There are one or two small points on the Second Schedule which I think should be raised before we part with it, because I hope the right hon. Gentleman will deal with them on the Report stage. The first question is that of rates. Under Part II of the Schedule it is said that these higher officers shall receive: The like exemption or relief from taxes and rates as is accorded to such an envoy. The right hon. Gentleman said on the last occasion upon which we debated this that the individual diplomat does pay full rates on his residence, and I ask him to consider between now and Report stage whether the words "and rates" on page 6, line 2, of the Bill, are necessary. Quite clearly the organisations have offices here which will be free from rates under Part I of the Schedule and, therefore, as I see it, there will be no need to provide that the words "and rates" shall be inserted in Part II. In fact, if the right hon. Gentleman is right in what he said in column 824 of HANSARD, the words have no significance or meaning at all. I hope he will say that he will look into that point.

Another point is the omission of the word "minor" before "children" in Part IV. There has been some observation about the interpretation of the word "children" and it has been given different interpretations in different statutes. The Convention contains the words "minor children" in Section 19, and I again ask the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance that for the sake of clarity and precision he will insert on the Report stage the word "minor" before "children" in this case. Those are two small drafting Amendments which do not affect the spirit of the Bill and I hope the Minister will meet us. The third point with which I should like him to deal, if he will be so good, is precisely what is meant by the first line on page 6: The like inviolability of residence as is accorded to such an envoy. I am not quite sure what the case is for that with regard to individuals. Individuals over here——

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

(Major Milner): I am sorry to interrupt but the points raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman are not points of substance that can properly be discussed on the Second Schedule. The First Schedule is merely a reprint incorporating the Amendments which were made to the First Schedule and are of a consequential nature.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

With great respect to your Ruling, Major Milner, I would submit that there are points on the Second Schedule which are not purely consequential because the Second Schedule contains words which do not appear in the First Schedule. For instance, in the Second Schedule, on page 2, we have the words: The like exemption or relief from taxes and rates as is accorded to such an envoy. Those words do not appear in the First Schedule and, as I understand, Major Milner, you are now discussing whether the Second Schedule shall stand part in its present form. We are not discussing any particular Amendment. Therefore, I submit that we are entitled, before we part with the Second Schedule, to ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the advisability of making minor alterations in drafting, and are also entitled to ask him for an explanation of the meaning of a sentence which he, and the Govern- ment, desire to have included in the Second Schedule.

9.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The Second Schedule, as I understand it, embodies Amendments which have been decided upon by the Committee, and everything in it must be consequential upon the First Schedule. The Second Schedule incorporates Amendments which have already been passed and, therefore, there is nothing which can be discussed upon the Second Schedule as any alteration therein would be inconsistent with decisions already taken.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

The heavy type incorporates Amendments made in the First Schedule, of course, but the part which is in black type but not in such thick black type, is part of the Second Schedule, and we are discussing whether the Second Schedule should be part of the Bill. On that question I should have thought it was in Order to put the questions which I am putting to the Minister for clarification. They will not take me long. I want to know the precise meaning of something in the Second Schedule.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Those points have already been decided or are in the original Act.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I am not talking about the words in thick black type.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Then the hon. and learned Member is talking about something which is in the original Act which has been amended and settled in the form appearing in the Second Schedule, which is a mere reprint for convenience. I do not think anything more than the question as to whether the Schedule shall in fact be incorporated is discussable.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

With great respect, Major Milner—and I will not pursue this argument—I should have thought that as we are being asked to put a Second Schedule into the Bill we were entitled, on the Question whether that Schedule should be part of the Bill, to put certain questions to the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I am sorry but, as I understand it, the Second Schedule is a restatement of something in the principal Act, as amended by the Committee. Those Amendments have been set out, and have been approved in the First Schedule, and it, therefore, does not seem to me that there can be anything further in the Second Schedule which can be discussed.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

May I call your attention, Major Milner, to the heading of the Bill? There it is stated: In the enactments set out in the Second Schedule to the Bill words to he inserted by the First Schedule are printed in heavy type. Surely the purpose is to differentiate one part of the Second Schedule from another?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I do not disagree with the noble Lord, but the Amendments in the heavy type are now incorporated in the First Schedule, and in my view, the Committee having incorporated them, they cannot be debated on the Second Schedule.

Mr. Noel-Baker:

Perhaps I may, with great respect, say that I am in agreement, Major Milner, with the interpretation which you have given. The Government's intention in printing the Second Schedule was to help hon. Members to understand what would be the effect of decisions made on the First Schedule to the Bill. If, therefore, we were to reverse anything on the Second Schedule, that would be reversing a decision which has already been taken on the first two parts of the Bill. I think that discussion of substance is not now in place. However, I have taken the hon. and learned Member's points, and, with your permission and that of the Committee, I will answer them, if that is agreeable.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

If I were to allow the right hon. Gentleman to deal with those points, which are not properly discussable, it would be opening them to Debate in all parts. The right hon. Gentleman said there was nothing of substance to be discussed on the Second Schedule. In my view, there is nothing at all which can be discussed upon the Second Schedule, which is a mere restatement of the decisions which have been arrived at by the Committee.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

If there is nothing which can be discussed on the Second Schedule, and if that Schedule is merely printed in the Bill for the convenience of Members as a White Paper or as a leaflet for the guidance of Members, may I ask you, Major Milner, what was the purpose of the Question which you have proposed "That this Schedule be the Second Schedule to the Bill"?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The effect of my argument is that the Second Schedule is a mere reprinting, and has to he formally incorporated, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, in the Act.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Further to that point of Order. If we had a Motion on which it is impossible either for the Opposition to raise a point or for the Minister to answer a point, there does not seem much reason for our having the Motion. So far we have reached very good arrangements with the right hon. Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman could be allowed to say that he will take note of the points raised and refer to them at a later stage of the Bill, it might solve the problem. I quite see your difficulty about allowing a Debate, Major Milner, but we do not wish that. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could say that he will take note of the points and at a later stage say whether he considers they are relevant or not.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

If the Committee are in agreement with that course, I have no wish to stand in their way. The right hon. Gentleman may give clarification and answer one or two of the questions put by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller). I have no objection to that if it is the Committee's wish, but on the clear understanding that there is no Debate on the Second Schedule.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

In order to emphasise what I think is a rather important constitutional point, surely it is always in Order when discussing the merits or demerits of a Schedule, when the Question has been put from the Chair, to ask the Minister what is the meaning of a particular phrase if that particular phrase has not occurred in a previous Schedule? It is important that that point should De cleared up.

Mr. Noel-Baker:

I will seek not to abuse your indulgence, Major Milner, and will speak very briefly—[Interruption.]

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I said that the only people who were completely ignorant were the supporters of the Government below the Gangway who were engaged throughout our points of Order in disorderly interruptions.

Mr. Noel-Baker:

I will not on this occasion follow the noble Lord in view of your Ruling, Major Milner. I will look into the matter of rates and see if there is more to be said. I will only call the hon. and learned Member's attention to the fact that this was in the Act of 1944 and we thought it better not to change it. With regard to the inviolability of residence, that means that the police or other State authorities shall not enter the envoy's residence except with the envoy's permission. If we have one of these, high-ranking international officials resident in this country and want to put him on the same footing as an envoy, we think it right that he should have that inviolability.

With regard to minor children and the reason why we left the word "minor", which is in the Convention, out of the Bill, it was because we desire to apply the Bill to the whole of the United Kingdom and it so happens that the phrase "minor children" has in Scottish law a particular significance. It means children between the ages of 14 and 21. On the other hand, Scottish law does not know the word "infant" and we could not cover it in that way. We might perhaps have found some other phrase, but since in fact it is well established that the giving of immunities to diplomatic envoys for their children here is restricted to children under 21, we thought that if we had it in this form it would be perfectly clear.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

Without, I hope, being out of Order; will you permit me, Major Milner, to thank the right hon. Gentleman for dealing so clearly and shortly with the points I have raised?

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

What we are really allowed to debate now is just the simple question whether this Schedule, which is in the form of consolidating legislation, shall be added to the Bill or not. I welcome the procedure adopted in this Bill of setting up a consolidating Schedule. I welcome it very warmly indeed, and offer my congratulations to the Parliamentary draftsmen or the Minister or whoever it was who thought of this excellent way of clarifying the whole issue.

I hope it will become a precedent, for it really is a legislative step forward of the first magnitude towards making Acts of Parliament more easy to understand, and I welcome it.

Preamble agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be reported to the House."

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I want to say a word on behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the Committee to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the courtesy with which he has met our points on the Committee stage. It was in striking contrast to the gross discourtesy of his supporters below the Gangway.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

Major Milner, may I ask how hon. Members below the Gangway can be protected from these attacks by the noble Lord? I have been here on several occasions when I have heard statements made by the noble Lord and I do not think such accusations should be made against hon. Members below the Gangway.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It statements are made which are unparliamentary, it is the duty of the Chair to deal with the matter, whether they are made by the noble Lord or any other hon. Members. An accusation of discourtesy, however, is not unparliamentary.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Further to that point of Order, Major Milner. In view of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), is there nothing in the Rules of the House that would allow us to give to the noble Lord and his associates a little proletarian agitation?

Mr. Noel-Baker:

I would like to say how much I appreciate what the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was good enough to say about me. I would also like to say this: Many of us have known him for many years and those who have done so have a great affection for him and understand his moods. They all know that in a certain state of inspiration he thinks bad manners a substitute for good arguments. I think it must be said that hon. Members on this side have endured long and painful Debates with great patience. I hope we have enjoyed a great deal of them and, in any case, I hope we are reaching a satis- factory conclusion and that this Bill will shortly be on the Statute Book.

Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended, to be considered Tomorrow.