§ Sir M. Havers
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I now amplify the point of order of which I gave you notice last night? It arises from the construction of Section 2(4) of the Parliament Act 1911 in relation to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. That Act provides in that section:A Bill shall he deemed to be the same Bill as a former Bill sent up to the House of Lords in the preceding session if, when it is sent up to the House of Lords, it is identical with the former Bill or contains only such alterations as are certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons to be necessary owing to the time which has lapsed since the date of the former Bill or to represent any amendments which have been made by the House of Lords in the former Bill".So we face three situations. They are that the Bill is identical with the Bill as it left this House at the end of Third Reading on its first occasion; or, for example, the date of 1976, because of the delay, has now to be made 1977; or the third case, in which the new Bill now before this House represents any amendment which is otherwise identical to an amendment which had been made by the House of Lords.
In my judgment this Bill does not comply with these requirements in the sense that in one case a Lords amendment has been amended by this House and is in the new Bill, and in three cases Lords amendments were rejected by this House, and then this House made amendments in lieu which are in the Bill. I must tell you, however, Mr. Speaker, that in all these cases, when these amendments were sent back to the other place, the other place agreed to the amendments made by this House. All these amendments are now in the new Bill which was before this House and which received its Third Reading last night.
It seems to me that the question is this: can a Commons amendment in lieu of or varying a Lords amendment, and then subsequently agreed to by the Lords in a previous Session, be in accordance with the 1911 Act and be, to paraphrase that section, such an alteration as is certified by you, Mr. Speaker, as to represent any amendment which has 452 been made by the House of Lords in the former Bill in the previous Session?
Amendments made by the Lords cannot in my view be amendments made by the Commons and agreed to by the Lords. The very wording of the Act prevents that. That must mean an amendment originating in the Lords, not one originating here and subsequently agreed by the Lords. Commons amendments are not made by the Lords; they are merely agreed by the Lords. That was clearly in the minds of the draftsmen when they prepared the Act, because, in the proviso, provision is made for the occasion on which the Bill comes back to this House in the succeeding Session, and there suggested amendments are provided for. If these amendments are agreed to by the Lords they are treated as being amendments made by the House of Lords in those special circumstances.
Thus, any amendment by the Commons and agreed to by the Lords in a previous Session can be put forward as a suggested amendment the second time around, and if that is done it avoids the difficulty which has arisen in the Bill as it is now drafted. If the Lords' agreement to a Commons amendment in the previous Session had been intended, when the 1911 Act was drafted, to be covered by the statute, that Act would have read, notto represent any amendments which have been made by the House of Lords in the former Billbutto represent any amendments which have been made or agreed by the House of Lords in the former BillThis in my view completely clinches the argument, since the passing of an amendment is in each case a separate step in the progress of the Bill. One step in the progress of the Bill is the passing of an amendment by one of the two Houses of Parliament. This requires the other House to adopt one of four courses. It must accept the amendment as it stands, reject it out of hand, amend it by another amendment, or substitute it by an amendment in lieu of the amendment which was passed by the other House.
If that amendment is not accepted or agreed to it becomes another amendment by the House which passes it—in this case, in respect of these four amendments, the House of Commons. If it is by the House of Commons, I come back to the 453 easy point that it cannot be an amendment by the Lords, even though they later agreed to it.
It follows, therefore, in my submission, that this Bill does not comply with the requirements of the Parliament Act. It should not be so certified by you, Mr. Speaker, under the Parliament Act, and for you to certify it would strain the language of the Act by going outside the plain and ordinary meaning in the Act itself.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Wimbledon (Sir M. Havers) and to his colleagues for having given me notice last night and again this morning of the substance of the matter that he has just raised in the House. It has enabled me to give full and careful consideration to the important issues involved.
The submission by the hon. and learned Member is based on the construction to be given to Section 2(4) of the Parliament Act 1911 as amended by the Parliament Act 1949 which, for the convenience of the House. I shall quote in full:A Bill shall be deemed to be the same Bill as a former Bill sent up to the House of Lords in the preceding Session if, when it is sent up to the House of Lords, it is identical with the former Bill or contains only such alterations as are certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons to be necessary owing to the time which has elapsed since the date of the former Bill, or to represent any amendments which have been made by the House of Lords in the former Bill in the preceding Session, and any amendments which are certified by the Speaker to have been made by the House of Lords in the second Session and agreed to by the House of Commons shall be inserted in the Bill as presented for Royal Assent in pursuance of this section:The hon. and learned Member contends that in the case of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, which was given its Third Reading last night, it would not be proper for me to give my certificate under the Parliament Acts to a form of the Bill which included in it three amendments made by the Commons in lieu of Lords amendments and agreed to by the Lords, and one amendment made by the Commons to a Lords amendment and agreed to by the Lords.
The question I have had to decide is whether such amendments made by the Commons either in lieu of or to Lords amendments, and subsequently agreed to by the Lords, represent Lords amendments 454 for the purposes of the Parliament Acts. In this matter—as in so many of the matters connected with this Bill—I have no precedent to guide me, and I must apply common sense to the construction of the statute.
I must point out here that "represent" is the operative word used in the subsection. I am of the firm view that if the Lords accept a Commons disagreement to one of their amendments and at the same time accept a Commons amendment in substitution, or if the Lords accept a Commons amendment to one of their amendments, then there is no doubt that the Commons amendment so accepted, or the Lords amendment, as amended so accepted, represents in the fullest sense the original Lords amendment.
What must be borne in mind is that whether the Commons seek to make an amendment in lieu of a Lords amendment, or seek to amend a Lords amendment, it is part of a continuing process of the consideration of Lords amendments. In other words, a Commons amendment in lieu of a Lords amendment, or a Commons amendment to a Lords amendment, could not exist without the original Lords amendment. In the final stage of agreement by the Lords it represents the Lords amendment and is therefore proper to be covered by my certificate under the Parliament Acts.
The hon. and learned Member referred to the proviso under Section 2(4) of the 1911 Act whereby the Commons may suggest further amendments to the Lords. I accept that this machinery could have been used to cover the disputed amendments in this case, but I am of the opinion that it was not necessary to do so in as much as the amendments are fully covered by the preceding words of the subsection.