Orders of the Day — Clause 1. — (Transfer of Burden of Proof in Certain Cases.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East 12:00 am, 11th July 1952

I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, to leave out "For," and to insert "In."

I agree that the other two Amendments should be taken with this one. I was indicating that the three taken together do not raise any matter which relates to any particular Act. They deal with a matter of principle which applies to all Acts, and I was indicating that there were two approaches possible to a Bill of this kind. One is the approach of a general principle which is embodied in these Amendments and is applicable to all Acts on grounds of principle; and secondly, the approach that each Act should be looked at in the light of the provisions in that Act, and that one should come to a decision on each Act separately.

I was indicating that when we dealt with this in Committee I regarded it, primarily at any rate, as a question of general principle which was applicable to all the Acts. But I found that the approach of the hon. Members sponsoring this Bill was a different one. Their approach was that each Act must be regarded and examined carefully in the light of the circumstances of that Act and the decision made by the House upon it. It is a fact that the Measures which are included in the Schedule are all of them Measures which were introduced by the Labour Government. There are Measures which include a similar provision to the provision which this Bill seeks to eliminate from these Statutes included in other Statutes.

Obviously the sponsors of this Bill, when they come before the House, are met with a difficulty. If it is a matter of principle, why should one differentiate between the Acts of the Labour Government introduced between 1946 and 1949 and other Acts passed by other Governments at different times, although they include identical provisions? We were met with the answer that each Act had been carefully considered in relation to the onus of proof. The Solicitor-General repeated that time and again in the course of his observations. If that is so, of course each one of these Acts must be considered by the House on its merits in relation to the case put up.