Clause 3. — (Additional powers exercisable by proclamation.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Coinage Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 1946.

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Photo of Sir Arthur Salter Sir Arthur Salter , Oxford University 12:00 am, 18th October 1946

I should like to support very strongly what my right hon. Friend has just said about the procedure proposed in this Clause. I think that there is hardly any task of this Parliament more important than that of seeing that under the accelerated and extended legislation now taking place, very largely of necessity in the form of delegated legislation, the essential liberties and rights of this House are maintained. In this Bill I think that the procedure is perhaps more important than the actual substance of the problem of the change in our currency which is under consideration, I very earnestly press upon the Government that when introducing Measures which provide for delegated legislation they should pay the closest regard to the recommendations which have been made by important bodies such as the Donoughmore Committee, to which my right hon. Friend has referred. At the present time, delegated legislation must extend very widely, and if Parliament is not to abdicate its functions altogether it is of the utmost importance that every practical safeguard should be preserved, in particular those which have been recommended after careful consideration by such Committees.

While I do not propose that we should divide on this Clause, I am a little nervous about the reason for not dividing given by my right hon. Friend, namely, that he is satisfied, no doubt rightly, that the present Chancellor will not make foolish use of the powers given to him under this Clause. I am very much disturbed in this Parliament at the frequency of the cases in which a particular blank cheque, or very widely drawn cheque, is provided in a Bill and is then defended by a statement that the particular Minister who happens to be in Office at the moment has no evil intentions and is not likely to act unwisely. A blank cheque, subject only to the safeguard of such assurances, even when Parliament entirely believes in the sincerity of those assurances, is not true legislation, and Parliament is not fulfilling its legislative function. I would therefore urge very careful consideration of the point of procedure to which my right hon. Friend has called attention.