§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD SIMONDS)
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill, I would remind your Lordships that it is referred to the Committee on Consolidation Bills, a Joint Committee of both Houses, by authority of an Order of this House made last week, on November 4, in terms similar to those which are passed at the beginning of every Session. I will remind your Lordships of the terms of the Resolution which your Lordships passed:That it is desirable that in the present Session all Consolidation Bills, Statute Law Revision Bills and Bills presented under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act, 1949, together with the Memoranda laid and any representations made with respect thereto under the Act, be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament.Accordingly, if your Lordships give this Bill a Second Reading, it will, as a matter of course, under that Order of your Lordships' House, be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses, where, of course, it will be examined in the same way as a Consolidation Bill is examined. I think I need add nothing more. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, noble Lords on this side of the House certainly support the Second Reading of this Bill. It was, I think, in March, 1950, that I moved the last corresponding Bill. As a result of the passing of that Bill the Statutes, which used to be contained in some 45,000 pages, were reduced to some 28,000 pages, and our Statutes down to the end of 1948 are published in that edition. I am glad to see that the Lord Chancellor is going on with the good work, because it is a work that has constantly to be taken in hand. I have no doubt that as a result of this new Statute Law Revision Bill we shall be able further to cut down our 28,000 pages, though, be it remembered, there is at the present time a terrific output of legislation. Even this very day, four of the 203 noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite have risen to introduce new Bills. With this output of legislation, we must take all steps we can to clear the dead wood.
I have read through this Schedule. I do not know whether I may make just one observation about it—I pick out one subject matter which I have noticed. If your Lordships are interested and will turn to page 17, you will find there mentioned the first of the Tithe Acts, the Tithe Act, 1836, and you will see the extent of repeal there proposed—section 3, section 10, sections 13 to 16, and so on. At the bottom of the page you will see another Tithe Act which is repealed in toto. There follow thereafter (I need not trouble your Lordships with them; they run from page 18 on to pages 19, 21, 27, 40, 46, 55 and 62) other Tithe Acts. The net result is that thirteen Tithe Acts are dealt with in this Schedule. Only one of them is being repealed and therefore disappears altogether; all the others are being merely altered or modified—this, that or the other section drops out.
I mention that fact because I most humbly suggest that the Lord Chancellor should perhaps consider, at some time or other, whether it does not indicate that this matter of tithes is one which might usefully form the subject of a Consolidation Statute. It does not seem to me satisfactory that in all these cases we are altering to some small extent these Tithe Acts, instead of dealing with them as a whole. I should like there to be consideration of the question of whether or not we could repeal all these Acts—get rid of them altogether and, in their place, substitute some new and modern Act which contains within itself all that remains of these old Acts. From the point of view of reference, that would be far more convenient for the practitioner dealing with the matter. For the rest, I congratulate the Lord Chancellor on having been able to introduce this Bill to us. As he rightly says, it will go before a Joint Consolidation Committee who have all the skilled advice to go into it most carefully. It certainly receives our good wishes, and will, I am sure, receive the good wishes of the whole House.
§ 2.53 p.m.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am much obliged for what the noble and learned Earl has said. I will 204 only add, in deference to what he has said, that it would seem that the consolidation of the Tithe Acts should stand fairly high in the rank. Unfortunately, as the noble and learned Earl knows as well as I do, the rank is rather a long one, and there are a good many competitors for prior places. But his suggestion will certainly be looked at by the learned Parliamentary draftsman who is in charge of that branch of our business.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.