§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT HALDANE)
My Lords, I rise to explain very briefly the character of this Bill. It originates with the Foreign Office, and its purpose is to bring the enlistment law of this country, as contained in the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870, into harmony with the provisions which were agreed upon in The Hague Convention. A Committee has sat for the purpose of working out the details, and they are embodied in this Bill. I should state that the Bill imposes no restriction, but gets rid of a certain undue severity with which the law presses upon British shipbuilders. The Hague Convention agreed that the law should be that when a ship was being fitted out for merely commercial purposes as distinguished from purposes of war it was quite legitimate that it should be 842 bought and sold in the ordinary way, but the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 was drawn with such stringency that it goes beyond that; and the Foreign Office have prepared this Bill in order to make our law accord with the provisions of the Convention come to at The Hague Conference upon the point. The Bill is in every respect, I think, beneficial to the interests of British shipowners and shipbuilders, and it brings the law, as I have said, into conformity with the law recognised by other nations and by ourselves at The Hague Convention. The point is a very small one, but I think the Bill will prove useful. There is another provision in it to the effect that if a ship has been contracted to be built in time of peace but has warlike equipment connected with it, then the contractor may give notice to the British Government, and the British Government will decide what is to be done. The contractor is not allowed to let the ship leave these shores unless the consent of the British Government has been obtained. I move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Haldane.)
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, I should like to ask the Lord Chancellor a question, with his answer to which I shall be content. I need not remind him that there has been some alteration of late years in The Hague Conventions. I want to know whether this Bill in any respect will bring into operation that to which this House has refused up to the present to assent. I conceive that the object of this Bill is to bring our law into accord with what is vaguely described as The Hague Conventions. If the Lord Chancellor will tell me that the Bill makes no difference with respect to the operation of the one to which this House has refused assent, I offer no objection to the Second Reading.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
As I understand the question which arose when this House refused its assent, there is no connection between the two, and there is nothing in this Bill which impinges on anything which this House has been unwilling to recognise.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Wednesday the 6th of November next.