I must confess to being in some difficulty, not being sure that I am in order in the sense that I have some general complaint about the Bill which I did not raise on Second Reading last week. As most of my difficulties arise on specific points, I thought better to wait until Committee Stage. Frankly, my chief difficulty is that I have not an idea in the wide world what Section 3 means. I would not mind so much, because it is a highly complex Bill and a layman like myself is not meant to know, except that, I take it, its purpose is to assist in the interpretation of the Bill.
I have read Section 3 so many times that I have lost count. Instead of helping me to interpret the Bill, it certainly makes confusion worse confounded. This business of saying that "Except in so far as the context otherwise requires any reference" means so and so, and then "Provided that, for the purposes of the following provisions of this Act" it does not affect it. Again, we have "with regard to publication, the provisions of this subsection shall have effect". Then you find in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) that that is true except in so far as, oddly enough, it may deal with what I thought the Bill would deal with— copyright.
I know very well that a lot of my difficulty results from my not being a lawyer and, therefore, not being conversant with these phrases. I thought the general purpose of this particular type of legislation—something which is tidying up, bringing together, clarifying —would be to prevent litigation, that is, to make the law so clear that people would not be provoked into courts of law to get something interpreted. I also think it would be desirable that legislation should be reasonably clear to legislators. It is not very nice to find oneself in the position of helping the passage of a Bill through the House and realising that most of it is incomprehensible.
In paragraph (b), subsection (2), there is a phrase "a publication which is merely colourable". What that means I should like to know. I would have thought that legislation demanded fairly distinct descriptions. I cannot think of anything more vague and more readily interpreted in probably a dozen ways than a phrase like "merely colourable". "Colourable" alone would be bad enough but what "merely colourable" means I do not know. If I say that something is a colourable imitation of something else I would intend to mean that it was a fair imitation, a recognisable imitation; but when I say "a merely colourable imitation" I do not know what I mean.
I think the Minister will probably agree with me that it would not be very difficult to envisage the probability that this one phrase could give rise to endless litigation in the sense that a great deal would depend on the court hearing it and the interpretation the court would put on vague phrases like "merely colourable". I should be glad, in relation to the whole section, if the Minister would not mind giving some résumé of what the intention is. I should like, in particular, to know what "merely colourable" is intended to mean.