Evidence on Public Bill procedure, 1967

The following evidence was submitted to the Select Committee on Procedure and printed with its Sixth Report of Session 1966-67, Public Bill Procedure, etc., HC 539, as Appendix 4 to the Minutes of Evidence (pp 96-99).

[Note: Appendix 3 (pp 88-96) consists of the following parts of the SPG memorandum of 1965: the last five paragraphs of the Preliminary Statement, paragraphs 1 to 15 and the two appendices.]


1. In their Memorandum to the Select Committee on Procedure of 1964-65 the Group included the following paragraphs dealing with the content of public bills:

The Content of Bills

Bills are at present extremely detailed–much more so than in some other countries. This means, first, that matters which are really detailed administrative points are subject to full parliamentary discussion, occupying a committee’s time and possibly that of the whole House on report; and secondly, that when a bill has been passed any amendment even on a point of detail requires new legislation with all the lengthy procedure that that involves. It also means that Members spend much time and effort on the legislative processes, while opportunities to bring to bear their special knowledge of how legislation is working out in practice may be unduly limited.

We suggest that the amount of detail included in bills should be reduced. Sections containing considerable detail, for example much of the matter at present included in the schedules to bills, should be excluded from the text of legislation, and left for treatment in statutory instruments. The extent of Ministers’ powers to make statutory instruments should continue, as at present, to be defined in the parent legislation. Memoranda (for information only) should be attached to bills indicating the scope and form of the delegated legislation that is envisaged.

2. The Select Committee have asked the Group to elaborate their proposals on this matter. The Executive Committee of the Group believe this can best be done by preparing an example of the kind of bill the Group had in mind in submitting their original evidence. Accordingly they append a draft bill, prepared by their President, Sir Edward Fellowes, designed to incorporate, in less detailed form, the provisions of the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation Bill of this Session, as originally presented to the House of Commons. It deals with the major purposes of the Corporation, its powers and its functions, while reserving for Ministerial Order the detailed arrangements for implementing these proposals.

3. The Committee of the Group, in submitting this evidence, do so in the belief that a bill on these lines would preserve for Members the opportunity to scrutinise the main content of the legislation when the bill is going through Parliament, while reserving opportunity to scrutinise detailed points at a later stage. If Members wished to have more detail incorporated in the bill itself they could still ensure debate on such matters by moving the necessary amendments in committee.

4. The Group appreciate that the Bill chosen, as presented to Parliament, was not unusually long or detailed. Longer bills might benefit even more from this kind of redrafting. The example they have given is only chosen to indicate the kind of lines on which Parliamentary draftsmen could be asked to draft more intricate or lengthy legislation. The details of the drafting itself must be a matter for such experts, and not all the members of the Group are necessarily in complete agreement on every detail of this suggested redraft.

5. The Group also wish to emphasise that if bills were to be drafted on these lines greater opportunities than at present exist should be provided for examination in detail of delegated legislation and of the operation of legislation in practice. The Committee’s attention is accordingly drawn to paragraph 7(b) and 21(g) of the Group’s original evidence.

ANNEX: Suggested redraft illustrative of paragraph 6 of Section 11, Procedure on Public Bills, of the Group’s Memorandum to the Select Committee on Procedure of 1964-65.


1–(1) There shall be a body to be called the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation (in this Act referred to as “The Corporation”).

(2) The Corporation shall consist of a Chairman to be appointed by the Secretary of State and not less than seven nor more than fourteen other members who shall be appointed by the Secretary of State (after consultation with the Chairman) from among persons who appear to the Secretary of State to have wide experience of and to have shown capacity in industry, commercial or financial matters, administration or the organisation of workers.

(3) It is hereby declared that the Corporation is not to be regarded as the servant or agent of the Crown or as enjoying any status, immunity or privilege of the Crown, or as exempt from any tax, duty, rate, levy or other charge whatsoever, whether general or local, and that its property is not to be regarded as the property of or property held on behalf of the Crown.

2.–(1) The Corporation may, subject to any regulations made by the Secretary of State and to Section 3 of this Act, for the purpose of promoting industrial efficiency and assisting the economy of the United Kingdom or any part of the United Kingdom–

(a) promote or assist the reorganisation or development of any industry or section of industry or

(b) if requested so to do by the Secretary of State, establish or develop, or promote or assist the establishment or development of, any industrial enterprise and in this section references to an industry include references to any description of commercial or financial activity and “industrial” shall be construed accordingly

and the Corporation shall have power to do anything whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere which is calculated to facilitate the discharge of its functions under this sub-section or is incidental or conducive to their discharge.

(2) The Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Corporation, give to the Corporation directions of a general character as to the exercise and performance by the Corporation of its functions, and it shall be the duty of the Corporation to give effect to any such directions.

(3) (a) The Secretary of State may by regulation make provision regarding the terms and conditions of membership of the Corporation, for the operation of the powers of the Corporation, and with regard to its staff: Provided that no regulation regarding payment to a member of the Corporation or regarding a pension or a gratuity to any member of the Corporation or of its staff may be made without the approval of the Treasury.

(b) Regulations made under this section may make such minor amendments to existing statutes as may be required for the proper and efficient working of the Corporation.

(4) The power to make Regulations under this section shall be exercisable by Statutory Instrument requiring an affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament.

3. (1) The Corporation may borrow–

(a) temporarily by way of overdraft or otherwise from any person:

Provided that such sums in the aggregate shall not exceed such limit as the Secretary of State may for the time being have imposed the Corporation for the purposes of this paragraph by a direction given to the Corporation with the approval of the Treasury

(b) otherwise than by way of temporary loan only from the Secretary of State

such sums as the Corporation may require for meeting its obligations or discharging its functions under this Act.

(2) The Treasury may guarantee, in such manner and on such conditions they may think fit, the repayment of the principal of and the payment of interest on any borrowing under paragraph (a) of the last sub-section and shall as soon as may be after any such guarantee has been given lay a statement of such guarantee before each House of Parliament.

(3) Any sums required by the Treasury for fulfilling any guarantee under sub-section (2) of this section shall be charged on and issued out of the Consolidated Fund and where any sum is so issued, the Treasury shall as soon as possible at the end of each financial year, beginning with that in which the sum is issued and ending with that in which all liability in respect of the principal of the sum and in respect of interest thereon is finally discharged, lay before each House of Parliament a statement relating to that sum.

(4) If any sums are issued in fulfilment of any guarantee given under sub-section (2) of this section, the Corporation shall make to the Treasury, at such time and such manner as the Treasury may, from time to time, direct payments of such amounts as the Treasury may so direct in or towards the payment of the sum so issued and payments of interest on what is outstanding for the time being in respect of sums so issued at such rate as the Treasury may so direct, and any sums so received by the Treasury shall be paid into the Exchequer.

4. (1) The Secretary of State may with the approval of the Treasury make loans other than temporary loans to the Corporation and the Treasury may issue out of the Consolidated Fund to the Secretary of State such sums as are necessary to enable him to make such loans and any securities created and issued to raise money under this sub-section shall be deemed for all purposes to have been created and raised under the National Loans Act 1939 and any such loans shall be repaid to the Secretary of State at such times and by such methods, and interest thereon shall be paid to him at such rates and at such times as the Secretary of State may with the approval of the Treasury from time to time direct.

(2) Any sums received by the Secretary of State whether in repayment of capital or as interest on any loan outstanding shall be paid into the Exchequer and shall be issued out of the Consolidated Fund at such times as the Treasury may direct and shall be applied

(a) as to so much thereof as represents principal in redeeming or paying off debt of such description as the Treasury think fit and

(b) as to so much thereof as represents interest in meeting such part of the annual charges for the National Debt as represents interest.

(3) (a) The Secretary of State may, with the approval of the Treasury, pay to the Corporation such sums as he may think fit but in the aggregate not exceeding a total which the Secretary of State may from time to time by order specify and any such order the Secretary of State may specify the method by which any sum paid to him by the Corporation in consideration of the repayments made by them under this sub-section shall be calculated.

(b) any sums required by the Secretary of State for making payments under this sub-section shall be defrayed out of monies provided by Parliament, and

(c) any sums received by the Secretary of State under this sub-section shall be paid into the Exchequer.

(4) The power to make any order under this section shall be exercisable by Statutory Instrument but the Secretary of State shall not make any such order less a draft of that order has been approved by the Commons House of Parliament.

5. The aggregate of the amounts outstanding in respect of–

(a) the principal of any loans in respect of which guarantees may have been given by the Corporation

(b) the principal of any money borrowed by the Corporation under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of this Act

(c) the sums paid to the Corporation under sub-section (3) of Section 4 of this Act and

(d) the sums issued by the Treasury under section 3 (3) and not repaid under section 3 (4)

taken together shall not exceed £150 million.

6. (1) The Secretary of State may make regulations to provide for the proper keeping of records and accounts by the Corporation, for the audit of such accounts and for rendering reports by the Corporation to the Secretary of State, who shall present any such report to each House of Parliament as soon as may be after its receipt.

(2) The power to make regulations under this section shall be exercised by Statutory Instrument subject to annulment by either House of Parliament.

7. Nothing in this Act shall operate to preclude the Parliament of Northern Ireland from enacting legislation for purposes similar to the purpose of this Act.

8. This Act may be cited as the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation Act 1966.

© 1967, Study of Parliament Group

Prepared by Simon Patrick, 1 August 2001