Orders of the Day — Emergency Laws (Repeal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1958.

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Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , City of York 12:00 am, 12th November 1958

I am not saying that. I am thinking that, or rather we were thinking that—[Laughter.]—the foreign crisis. of which one does not get warning or any opportunity of anticipating, is an emergency probably requiring greater speed of action. It is for that reason that we have this reserve power and we do not think that it would be the same in relation to a domestic crisis. That is the distinction.

Hon. Members opposite complain about the fact that we select some of these powers to keep and some not to keep. If one sets about the operation of pruning from time to time those powers which do not depend on legislation going through the House, one has to make a process of selection. One makes it according to one's political line, and we do not expect the Opposition to make the same selection as we would make.

This is not, as someone has said, a fancy hotch-potch. It is a careful selection after working through all the Government Departments to see what we must keep in the form of decretal legislation in order to ensure the good government of the Realm. It is puzzling to hear the argument that all this is presented as some kind of spoiling operation, something which is to hamper the Socialist Government that is to succeed us. That was the phrase used by one right hon. Gentleman.

For the first time in my life I have heard today one of my colleagues chided for not being sufficiently controversial. I do not want to be controversial. I wish to develop the argument. I do not wish to enter into the slightest controversy as to who will be the Government after the next Eleotion or the Election after that or the next Election after that one. But supposing, just for the purposes of argument, that it were in my mind that hon. Members opposite should be voted on to these benches next time. How very inept this Bill would be as a spoiling operation.

I was greatly obliged to the hon. Member for Leeds, West, whom I regret I do not see in his place at the moment. When one of his hon. Friends was developing this point the other way round, the hon. Member for Leeds, West said Ineffective". Why he should assume that the Front Bench would not also have got the point that it would be ineffective I do not know. But how very ineffective it is. It is sometimes very difficult to discover the intentions of hon. Members opposite. I understand that their many pamphlets in certain quarters have been said to make no impact whatsoever and that they are having to produce some shortened document to explain them.