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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South 12:00 am, 11th July 1952

I would point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) that either there is a gap in the Bill, in which case it is in order to discuss the gap, or there is no gap and "the following words" then precede the gap and next words which follow, in which case a substantive Amendment to 12 Acts of Parliament is made, and I should not find it difficult to speak for a considerable time on that.

I was trying to address a serious argument to the House when the points of order were raised. We know what has happened, but it would be deplorable if, when the House has indicated its desire that a Measure of this nature should go forward, the Bill should not go to another place where no doubt the ingenuity of the Members of that place would insert words acceptable to this House.

I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields, who said that it was not appropriate that the Bill should go forward on Third Reading because it affected the liberty of the subject and that that was peculiarly a matter for this House. It is a matter on which the House must always hold very clear and carefully considered views, but I should not describe it in the way one describes financial business, as something peculiarly within the purview of this House.

Indeed, throughout recent history another place has shown the very keenest interest in Bills of a legal character like this. It is in relation to Bills which might be described as legal Bills that another place has made some of its most valuable contributions to our legislation. I submit that this is peculiarly the sort of Bill in its present form which ought to go forward to another place which will have almost unfettered discretion as to what it will put into the Bill. We have indicated by the long Title of the Bill and by the framing of the Clauses that we consider that an Amendment of the law respecting the prosecution of directors is desirable. That is in the Bill, and we have—