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 Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare 12:00 am, 18th October 1946

I hope we may now dispose of this Clause without much further Debate because it seems to me that the Committee is under a misapprehension. In this Bill my right hon. Friend is not taking unto himself new and extensive powers. I think we all agree that when it comes to delegated legislation Parliament should be very jealous on behalf of the citizens at large as to what powers it does give in this way to the Government of the day, whatever its complexion. But here all we are wanting to do is to give power to the Government to alter the content of the token coinage, if and when something better than what is contained in Clause 1, namely, cupro-nickel, is found. In these days of widespread research, I, for one, hope that it is a possibility that some new metal, good in appearance and attractive to look at and to use, will be found. We have to make provision for that in the Bill, and I do not think anyone objects to this.

What the Committee objects to is that any change that may be made should be made by Proclamation. It has probably slipped the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) that this is, in fact, a tightening up of the law. Under existing legislation it is permissible in the case of coins composed of metals other than pure silver for the Government of the day to vary them without coming to Parliament at all and without making a Proclamation. It can be done quite silently, without, in effect, telling anybody. No one would do that, of course, but our proposal that it should be done by Proclamation is in fact, as I have said, a tightening up of the existing law.

The question arises why we should want to do it by Proclamation. The answer is that the Royal Prerogative is involved. The Prerogative in this direction has grown up down the ages and all of us are aware of how it has happened. The coinage is in a special class apart so far as the Royal Prerogative is concerned and it is essential, if we are to keep continuity, in this direction at any rate, that the King's right to do these things by Proclamation should not be restricted or altered in any way. Finally, although this is done by Proclamation, it is possible for Parliament to annul by Prayer, if it is so minded, any Proclamation that has been made by the Government of the day in the name of the King. I hope that with that explanation the Committee will be willing to let us have the Clause.