HC Deb 29 June 1938 vol 337 cc2018-27

8.22 p.m.

Mr. Ramsbotham

I beg to move, in page 2, line 37, at the end, to insert: Any power of the Development Board to give directions to a Marketing Board as respects the exercise of the Marketing Board's functions shall be deemed to include power to direct the Marketing Board to abstain from exercising its powers to such extent as may be specified in the direction. This Amendment deals with a very small point. The Marketing Board may wish to do something which the Development Board thinks is inopportune, unwise or inconsistent with the directions which it has given to the Marketing Board. As the Bill now stands, it is possible that it might be held that the Development Board would not have express authority to direct the Marketing Board to refrain from exercising a particular power. This Amendment makes it clear that the Development Board will have that authority, and that if there is any doubt whether the Marketing Board is properly carrying out the directions of the Development Board, the will of the Development Board will prevail.

Amendment agreed to.

8.23 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, to leave out "acting independently of the Development Board."

This Amendment and the following one are drafting Amendments to make clear the wording of the Clause. This is one of the points to which attention was called during the Committee stage by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander), to whom I am obliged for having assisted in this matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 7, at the end, insert: Any decision of a Marketing Board whether or not to join with the Development Board in making a request under this Subsection shall be taken by the Marketing Board independently of the Development Board."—[Mr. Ramsbotham.]

8.24 p.m.

Mr. Ramsbotham

I beg to move, in page 3, line 23, to leave out from "that," to "transferred," in line 25, and to insert "where a power has been."

This Amendment, and the three following Amendments, have been put on the Paper in consequence of a suggestion made during the Committee stage by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage). In the Bill as it now is, it is provided that, in the event of the Marketing Board disobeying the instructions of the Development Board, its power shall be transferred to the Development Board and cannot be retransferred. It was pointed out with reason that that perhaps was rather too drastic, that it was a death sentence with no question of a reprieve. The Amendments provide that retransfer shall be possible after five years, and that it will not be impossible for all time to retransfer the power.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Alexander

I much regret that the Minister has gone as far as he has gone in these Amendments to meet the request of the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) and his hon. Friends. I pointed out in Standing Committee that it was very desirable that the Development Board should be of a far more independent character than is proposed in the Measure. If we are not to get the degree of independence in the board which we on this side desire, and if there are misdemeanours on the part of the marketing boards as a result of which they are deprived of their powers, I strongly object to those powers being restored. I think the whole experience of the Government in the last two years has been of a kind to move them, more and more, in the direction of independent commissions. We are now dealing with a completely independent commission in relation to the sugar industry. There is an independent commission in the case of the important livestock industry and it is obvious from the fact that it has been found necessary to enlarge the independent membership of the Development Board, in the case of the pigs and bacon industry, that the Government in this case are moved by the same consideration.

We have not, however, been able to persuade the Government in this case to make the board a completely independent body, and in those circumstances I strongly object to the proposal that if either of the marketing boards should lose its powers as the result of any misdemeanour, those powers should thereafter be restored to them. I notice that there is on the Paper an Amendment to one of the Minister's Amendments in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon (Sir E. Ruggles-Brise), who wants to reduce the period from five years to two years. I do not know whether I should be in order in dealing with that Amendment now—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Captain Bourne)

I understand that Mr. Speaker proposes to call the Amendment to the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman refers and it would be better to wait until we reach it.

Mr. Alexander

I will only say that I should of course be even more strongly opposed to that proposal. At the moment I confine myself to the expression of my regret that the Minister has given way to importunities of this kind, which I think are unjustified, to the extent represented by his own Amendments.

8.28 p.m.

Colonel Sir Edward Ruggles-Brise

It is evident from the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that he has misconceived the effect of the Amendments of my right hon. Friend the Minister and also the Amendment to one of those Amendments which I intend to move later.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We have not yet reached the point at which the hon. and gallant Member will be called upon to move his Amendment, and the matter does not arise on the Amendment at present before the House.

Sir E. Ruggles-Brise

May I deal with what the right hon. Gentleman has said and point out that he has overlooked the true meaning of these Amendments—both the Amendments of my right hon. Friend and the Amendment to one of those Amendments which I hope to be permitted to move later. There is nothing in the Minister's Amendments which says that the Development Board, having once taken over powers from either of the two Marketing Boards, need ever give back those powers. All the Minister's Amendment says is: Nothing in this Section shall authorise the re-transfer of that power until five years have elapsed.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We have not yet reached that Amendment. We are still on the Amendment to line 23 and the discussion must be confined to it.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 3, line 26, leave out "had" and insert "has."

In line 28, leave out "was" and insert "is."—[Mr. Ramsbotham.]

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move in page 3, line 29, at the end, to insert: Nothing in this Section shall authorise the re-transfer of that power until five years have elapsed from the date of the order effecting the transfer.

8.30 p.m.

Sir E. Ruggles-Brise

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out "five," and to insert "two."

I am sorry if I was premature in endeavouring to make some remarks on this point but I thought all these Amendments were consequential and were being considered together. I was pointing out that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) has misconceived the effect of this Amendment and the other Amendments on this point. He seems to assume that these words will make it obligatory on the Development Board to retransfer powers to either of the Marketing Boards within five years after such powers had been transferred, Of course, the words have not that effect at all. They merely say that such powers can not be retransferred until five years have elapsed. Personally, I' am not satisfied with that period, and while I do not propose to repeat the arguments which I addressed to the Standing Committee on this question, I must, in view of what has happened, allude to them again.

There are three major reasons why it is unwise to allow too long a period during which the Development Board will be compelled to assume and retain powers where powers have been transferred. We have to remember that as regards the personnel of the Marketing Boards, the elected members are subject to election not once in five years, as we are, but every year. If either of the two boards does not conduct its business satisfactorily in the opinion of the constituents of those members, then they will be turned out, and therefore there is no need to make the statutory period for this purpose so long. Secondly, should one or other of the Marketing Boards fail to act in accordance with the wishes and direction of the Development Board or prove recalcitrant, the Development Board might consider it desirable to take the power into their own hands. But they might be deterred from doing so for the very reason that they did not wish to be burdened with the responsibility of carrying out functions which properly belonged to the Pigs Board or the Bacon Board. It might be very inconvenient to them to exercise a power which rightly belonged to those executive bodies. So you might reach this position, that the Development Board, while wishing to deal with one or other of the boards and feeling that it was almost their duty to assume one or other of their powers, might be deterred from so acting by the very fact that once they had taken over the transferred power, they could not then rid themselves of it for a period of five years.

Mr. Alexander

I think the hon. and gallant Member has overlooked my point, that where there were two boards in existence, they had to be amended instead of removed.

Sir E. Ruggles-Brise

There is nothing in this Amendment or in mine which will make it obligatory for the Development Board ever to retransfer a transferred power to either of the boards. Therefore I cannot see the point of the right hon. Gentleman's objection. I was saying that in the event of my right hon. Friend accepting my Amendment, then again I would say that there is no compulsion, because two years instead of five are put in the Bill, on the Development Board to divest itself of the transferred powers which it has taken over. I admit that my right hon. Friend has gone some little way, and I agree that the situation is vastly improved and that now at least we have a period of years instead of eternity, as under the Bill originally, but I would seriously ask my right hon. Friend to consider whether, from his point of view, the two years would not be just as effective as the five, in view of the fact that neither one period nor the other makes it obligatory on the Development Board to divest itself of the transferred powers.

Colonel Ponsonby

I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

The case has been so clearly put by my hon. and gallant Friend that I will not do more than formally to second the Amendment.

8.38 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

Hon. Members who were on the Standing Committee will remember what took place upstairs on this question. As the Bill was originally drafted, it provided that, should a Marketing Board fail to carry out the directions of the Development Board and should the Development Board assume the power which was abused, never again could the Marketing Board perform the functions transferred from it. That was put in for the purpose of providing an adequate deterrent against any light shifting of responsibility, and when one remembers that, in order to make such an order, the Minister has to come to Parliament, and all the ponderous machinery of getting an order through both Houses has to be gone through, one will see that the House does not want these orders to be rendered nugatory too easily by any quick reversal of policy. As the Bill was originally drafted, it meant that if a Marketing Board failed to carry out the directions of the Development Board, that function should be removed from it for ever; but in the course of our discussions upstairs the case was put that perhaps for some temporary cause a Marketing Board might momentarily fail in its duty and might be succeeded on a fresh election by another body which desired to do its work properly, and that therefore it was impolitic to place this ban upon its resuming its lost function. It was urged that "never" is a long time. I was indebted to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) for the suggestion that perhaps the difficulty might be got over if a time limit were imposed within which the transferred powers could not be restored. I promised to consider it, and this Amendment is the result. But it is clear that the time limit must be sufficiently long to provide an ample deterrent, both to the Marketing Board and to the Development Board from seeking the transference of these powers.

My hon. and gallant Friend has drawn attention to the case where the Development Board itself might desire to take over a function of a Marketing Board. The intention of the Bill is that the Development Board should not come to such a decision lightly, and the view that I would urge upon the House is that if the Development Board, in coming to the decision that it wanted to take over a certain function, knows that if it does, it cannot get rid of it for five years, that is a salutary check upon any impulsive action in that direction and means that the decision to transfer any such power to itself will be reached only after mature reflection. It is a serious thing if it is not made clear by the House that failure by a Marketing Board to carry out the directions of the Development Board would have a very serious effect on the whole scheme of the Bill. It is no light transgression; it means that the direction of policy vested in the Development Board might be lost or thwarted through such a transgression. I have gone so far as to recognise that there may be the exceptional case wherein it might be advisable, in changed circumstances, to retransfer to a Marketing Board powers which it had lost. I have gone that distance, but I still adhere to making the period sufficiently long to make it a deterrent on the Marketing Board not lightly to refuse to carry out a direction of the Development Board, and a deterrent on the Development Board not lightly to assume a function of a Marketing Board which it might find irksome and wish soon to retransfer. I hope the House will agree that I have gone as far as I can to meet the wishes of both sides.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment negatived.

Question put, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 181; Noes, 115.

Division No. 259.] AYES. [8.45 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Gridley, Sir A. B. Radford, E. A.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Grimston, R. V. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Ramsbotham, H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Ramsden, Sir E.
Aske, Sir R. W. Harbord, A. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Rayner, Major R. H.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Barrie, Sir C. C. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Remer, J. R.
Belt, Sir A. L. Hepworth, J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Birchall, Sir J. D. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Ropner, Colonel L.
Bossom, A. C. Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Higgs, W. F. Rowlands, G.
Boyce, H. Leslie Holmes, J. S. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Hopkinson, A. Russell, Sir Alexander
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Horsbrugh, Florence Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hume, Sir G. H. Salmon, Sir I.
Bull, B. B. Hunter, T. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Burghley, Lord Hutchinson, G. C. Selley, H. R.
Butcher, H. W. Joel, D. J. B. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Cary, R. A. Keeling, E. H Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Christie, J. A. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U.B'lf'st)
Clarke, Frank (Dartford) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E Grinstead) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Somerset, T.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Leech, Sir J. W. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Lees-Jones, J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Collox, Major W. P. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Levy, T. Spens, W. P.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Liddall, W. S. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Lindsay, K. M. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lipson, D. L. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Little, Sir E. Graham- Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Tasker, Sir R I.
Cruddas, Col. B. Loftus, P. C. Tate, Mavis C.
Culverwell, C. T. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Thomas, J. P. L.
Davies, C. (Montgomery) MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Manninaham-Buller, Sir M Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon H. D. R. Turton, R. H.
Deland, G. F. Markham, S. F. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Donner, P. W. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Warrender, Sir V.
Dower, Major A. V. G. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Drewe, C. Morgan, R. H. Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Wayland, Sir W. A
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester) Wells, Sir Sydney
Eastwood, J. F. Munro, P. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Eckerstey, P. T. Neven-Spence, Major B. H H. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Ellis, Sir G. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Elliston, Capt. G. S. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Womersley, Sir W. J.
Elmley, Viscount Owen, Major G. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Errington, E. Perkins, W. R. D. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Petherick, M.
Everard, W. L. Pickthorn, K. W. M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fildes, Sir H. Pilkington, R. Captain Dugdede and Major Sir
Gledhill, G. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. James Edmondson.
Gluckstein, L. H. Perritt, R. W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Broad, F. A. Daggar, G.
Adamson, W. M. Bromfield, W. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Buchanan, G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Burke, W. A. Dobbie, W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Cassells, T. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Bonfield, J. W. Chater, D. Ede, J. C.
Barnes, A. J. Close, W. S. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Batey, J. Glynn, Rt. Hon. J. R. Foot, D. M.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Cocks, F. S. Garro Jones, G. M.
Benson, G. Cove, W. G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Logan, D. G. Sexton. T. M.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Lunn, W. Silkin, L.
Grenfell, D. R. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Simpson, F. B.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) McEntee, V. La T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) McGhee, H. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Maclean, N. Sorensen, R. W.
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Marshall, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Hardie, Agnes Mathers, G. Stokes, R. R.
Harris, Sir P. A. Maxton, J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Messer, F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hayday, A. Milner, Major J. Thorne, W.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Montague, F. Thurtle, E.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Muff, G. Tinker, J. J.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Naylor, T. E. Tomlinson, G.
Holdsworth, H. Oliver, G. H. Viant, S. P.
Hopkin, D. Paling, W. Walker, J.
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parker, J. Watkins, F. C.
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Parkinson, J. A. Watson, W. McL.
John, W. Pearson, A. Welsh, J. C.
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Westwood, J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Price, M. P. White, H. Graham
Kelly, W. T. Quibell, D. J. K. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Kirby, B. V. Ridley, G. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Kirkwood, D. Riley, B. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Lawson, J. J. Ritson, J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Leach, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Leonard, W. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Leslie, J. R. Seely, Sir H. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.