HC Deb 15 May 1946 vol 422 cc1842-2046

As amended (in the Standing Committee and on re-committal) further considered.

CLAUSE 4.—(Consumers Councils.)

3.58 p.m.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Shinwell):

I beg to move, in page 4, line 17, after "coal," to insert : coke and manufactured fuel, respectively.

There are several Amendments on the Paper of a like character and what I have to say will cover them all. In the course of the discussions on the Committee stage, we gave an assurance that the Clause would be amended so as to provide for the representation on consumers' councils of the interests of consumers of coke. This. in our view, is a very desirable Amendment and, I understand, will meet with the wishes of other hon. Members.

Major Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Ecclesall):

I agree with the Minister that this Amendment, and the other similar Amendments on the Order Paper, meet the point I raised in Committee. But before we pass from it, I would point out that the very fact that it is put forward at this stage shows there was a glaring omission from the Bill as first drafted, an omission which refers to the coking industry. I would remind the House that, as regards coke, it has been tacked on to this Bill in a hurried way, and I think, with regard to the Amendments which are coming forward, that the Minister is going to have a great deal of difficulty in administering the coke ovens in this way. I feel not only for the Minister, but for the poor officials under him who will have to try to run the coking industry, tacked on, as it has been, to the Coal Bill in this way. This Amendment brings forward a significant principle to which I should like to draw the attention of the House.

Mr. Speaker:

This Clause relates to consumers' councils, with which the Bill has to deal, but the point the hon. and gallant Member is making seems to me to be outside the organisation of the industry completely.

4.0 p.m.

Major Roberts:

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. If I may I will turn to the question of whether the consumers' councils, as such, are to be applicable to consumers of coke. The point I wish to make is that the consumers' councils are considered to be a safeguard against State monopoly, first of all, in the coal industry. Now, because coke has been included, they are also considered to be a safeguard for consumers of the products of coke ovens. Up to now, the State monopoly of coal is an absolute one. Now, we are dealing with coke ovens, and coke ovens are not an absolute State monopoly, because, in fact—

Mr. Speaker:

Coke ovens could not be discussed on this Amendment.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough):

With all respect, Mr. Speaker, may I put it to you that we are here dealing with the first four Amendments, which look exactly the same? The Minister has to get on the council representatives of those concerned in "organising or effecting the sale or supply" of fuel. I think that the point which my hon. and gallant Friend was making is that there was some confusion about those who would be supplying coke, because some would come under the Minister, and some would be outside.

Mr. Speaker:

That discussion would seem to me to have been far more appropriate on the last Amendment.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

May I ask how far this Clause goes? I feel sure that the Minister would like to help me on this matter. I am not sure—and I have looked at further Amendments to try to find out—whether the fuel substances here mentioned would include peat, and whether it is the Minister's intention that peat should be included. I will not deal with a subsequent Amendment, which is a definition Amendment, but the House will know that some fuels are produced by a high pressure process, while others are not.

Mr. Speaker:

The whole speech of the hon. Member is outside the question.

Mr. Williams:

May I ask if the Minister will give a definition of fuel?

Mr. Speaker:

That is far too hypothetical a question for him to answer.

Amendment agreed to.

Consequential Amendments made.

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move, in page 5, line 24, at the end, to insert: (8) In this Section the expression 'manufactured fuel' means any manufactured fuel (including carbonised briquettes and ovoids) of which coal or coke is the principal constituent.

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, at the end, to add: and other products of coke oven carbonisation of coal.

Major Roberts:

So far, coke, which is a product of coke ovens, is accepted as something with which the consumers' councils can deal. This Amendment proposes to go wider than that, because there are basic materials other than coke which come out of coke ovens. May I explain the drafting? We could have added, after "coke and manufactured fuel," in all the Amendments we have just dealt with, "other coke oven products of the carbonisation of coal," but, rather than do that, which we considered to be rather clumsy, we propose to add the words, "other products of coke oven carbonisation of coal."

The argument to which I wish to address myself is that coke ovens produce many basic materials other than coke, such as toluol, naphthalene, pitch, tar and a number of other things. In so far as consumers of coke are to be protected by the consumers' councils, in so far as consumers' councils under this Clause are a protection to consumers of coke, it seems to me to be in line with the protection already afforded that people who are aggrieved by the discriminatory or dictatorial methods which the Board may use regarding the sale or distribution of those other products, should be able to bring such matters before the consumers' council. It has been accepted that those who use coke and who feel themselves aggrieved can bring their complaints before the consumers' council. I cannot see how, if the Minister is to be consistent with his previous principles, he can refuse this Amendment, which simply provides that, where a manufacturer in these other cases feels himself hardly treated by the Board or their servants, he should be able to bring the matter before the consumers' council. This only deals with the basic stage. I am not talking about the consumers of the products of coke ovens after they have got into the manufactur- ing stage. I am talking about the bulk allocation of such things as toluol, naphthalene and many other products, and I feel that, if the Minister accepted the argument in the case of coke, he should also accept this Amendment.

Mr. Shinwell:

The difficulty about this Amendment is that the hon. and gallant Member for Ecclesall (Major Peter Roberts) wants the consumers' councils to deal with the products of coke oven carbonisation of coal. The products vary. They include, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated, sulphate of ammonia, benzole and tar, and the production of these by-products is not confined to coke oven activities. They are produced at the gas undertakings of the country, at low temperature carbonisation works and so on, and it would be impossible for these matters to be dealt with adequately by the consumers' councils which are primarily designed to deal with coal, coke and manufactured fuel. The Amendment would take us too far and it is doubtful whether we could appropriately call upon the consumers' councils to undertake activities of this kind. Therefore, I must ask hon. Members to reject this Amendment.

Colonel Clarke (East Grinstead):

The Minister has stated that it is impossible for these matters to be dealt with by the consumers' councils, but he has given no reason. Does he mean that in all cases in which the State produces articles—and in the future this will become increasingly common—which will also be produced by private manufacturers, it will be impossible for the consumer of the national product to have any means of complaining about what he receives? The Minister gave no reason, but merely said that it was not possible.

Mr. Shinwell:

There never was at any time any demand that we should proceed beyond the subject of coal and manufactured fuel To set up a consumers' council to deal with byproducts such as benzole, tar, pitch, creosote and sulphate of ammonia, as I say, would take us too far, and I can hardly ask the consumers' councils to undertake these tasks.

Mr. C. Williams:

I am rather glad to hear what the Minister has just said. It seemed to me that he was lessening the scope of this Amendment. However, I am rather uncertain because I had not the pleasure or otherwise of having listened to the discussions upstairs. When he uses the words "of which coal or coke is the principal constituent," I think the House has some right to know precisely the proportion which the word "principal" indicates. Does it mean that in this connection, coal or coke has to be of a very high proportion or a low proportion? The Minister should answer that question because I do not think we ought to leave this point until we are assured that we shall not have too much of that other stuff which is better known as "Shinwells." I think we might have an assurance that in no circumstances will that sort of stuff—

Mr. Speaker:

I must ask the hon. Member to state which Amendment he is discussing.

Mr. Williams:

I understood you had called the Minister's Amendment, Mr. Speaker, and that you had further called the Amendment to that Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) at the bottom of the page.

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. Member is not discussing "other products of coke oven carbonisation of coal." He is discussing matters which are outside the scope of the Amendment.

Mr. Williams:

I much regret it if I was doing so. I was not clear whether we were discussing the Amendment to the original Amendment. I thought we were discussing the Amendment to the original Amendment, and the original Amendment with it, but if we are to have a separate discussion later on the original Amendment I will leave my remarks until then. I thought you were taking the two Amendments together, Mr. Speaker. I will not add anything other than that if the Minister can give me an assurance on the point I have made, he will give me great satisfaction.

4.15 p.m.

Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)

I wish to put a question to the Minister on a point which has interested me very much in the past. The gas which is derived from coke ovens is not by any means always used by the owners of the coke ovens. I have frequently come across cases in which coke oven gas is used in the production of electricity, and, so far as I know, some of those concerns are still in operation. Moreover, there are other cases in which the very rich gas which comes from these coke ovens is most valuable to supplement sources of supply of gas undertakings, whether owned by companies or by municipalities, and they represent any amount of consumers. Is any provision to be made whereby the interests of those important people who take one of the products or by-products of coke production, will be safeguarded on the industrial consumers' council? If not there should be such provision.

Captain Crookshank:

I am sorry that the Minister does not see his way to accept this Amendment to the Amendment. He says there has never been any demand for it. I do not know on what he bases that statement, but it was not until we passed the Schedule that the Committee decided that the Minister would have power to take over certain of these coke ovens. Of course, we cannot go back on the Committee stage and, therefore, this is the first opportunity for raising this point. The Minister said the matter could not be dealt with adequately by a consumers' council. I do not quite see why not, because the consumers' council is to be charged with the duty of dealing with complaints of all kinds from the consumers. The Minister having taken over the coke ovens, it seems to me that consumers of these by-products should have some right of access, somewhere to lay their complaints. I know the Minister will not agree with what I am about to say, but it is the fact that, so far, the products of all nationalised industries are more expensive than those of other industries. That is the general experience. In this case there will be some coke ovens under the control of the Minister because he has opted to take them over, as being subsidiary to colliery undertakings, and there will be others which he will not take over. There will be one kind remaining more or less as they are now, under the private enterprise system, and there will be others which come under the National Coal Board because they have opted to take them.

In the case cited just now, certain industrial undertakings have to use coke oven gas from a particular place, owing to the propinquity of the place where coke oven gas is produced. They have no alternative. If the fact that it is run by the State is going to make it more expensive—which is a reasonable assumption, taking into account past experience—there ought to be some tribunal or some method by which, if the consumers feel they are being overcharged or are getting the wrong kind and quality of product, they could make their case. The Minister provides the tribunal for making a case in the consumers' council. Therefore, it does seem a little ungenerous, to put it no higher than that, that he should not extend the scope of the consumers' council in the direction which we have indicated. The Minister has not adduced any reason for not doing so. All he has said is that it cannot be adequately dealt with by the council. All I say in reply is: Why not?

Question, "That those words be there added to the proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.

Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.

CLAUSE 5.—(Transfer to the Board of assets generally.)

The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross):

I beg to move, in page 6, line 7, to leave out from the beginning, to the end of line 22, and to insert: In considering any question which is to be determined by arbitration under this subsection the arbitrator shall have regard to all the circumstances, and in particular, where the exercise of the option in question is by the Board, to the importance to the Board, for the purposes of any activities which they are required or authorised to carry on, of the assets being vested in them, and, where the exercise of the option is by the owner, to the extent to which the severance of the assets in question from other assets of his which are vested or to be vested in the Board affects the usefulness to him of the assets in question.

I rise with a particularly humble and contrite heart to deal with this Amendment. A very sad story attaches to the Proviso which at present finds itself in the Bill. It found its way there by means of an Opposition Amendment. Of course, there is nothing sad in that; we are always ready to accept Amendments which improve the Bill, and we are predisposed to accept those coming from the Opposition which do so, if they ever do. But we had not contemplated accepting the particular Amendment which was eventually adopted. When the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas- Tooth) finished moving the Amendment, I am afraid I did not at once rise. I do not know whether I was spellbound by his oratory, or whether I was contemplating the advantages of hurrying slowly, or whether I did not understand what it was all about, or had lost my brief, or whether I was asleep. At all events, I did not rise. The Chairman immediately collected the voices and for once, oddly enough, the Government voices were silent. The matter must be put right.

Before the Bill was amended the arbitrator was not given any particular guidance as to the considerations to which he was to have regard to deciding the questions which might be submitted to him. He was left with a completely free hand and an unfettered discretion. In that, we had followed the precedent set by quite a number of other Statutes, so that he was able to do what he thought to be right and best in the circumstances of the particular case with which he was dealing. The proviso that was inserted in the Bill by way of the Opposition Amendment does not really help. It requires the arbitrator to have regard to various conflicting considerations, without indicating the weight to be attached to any one of them; it makes the owners' profits a criterion, which we think they ought not to be; and it also refers to the relative advantages to the Board and to the owners which, in view of the totally different scale of their respective operations, is inappropriate. Moreover, paragraph (b) appears to be very difficult to understand, to us at least. Paragraph (b) refers to the practicability of the owner continuing a business in the event of having that business taken away from him. I have puzzled over what that means a good deal and been unable to ascertain.

In view of the strong desire of the Opposition that some guidance should be given to the arbitrator in these circumstances, we have proposed the deletion of the existing proviso and the substitution of what is an addition to the Bill as it originally stood, in the terms of the Amendment now appearing on the Order Paper. The result of the adoption of this Amendment will be that, whilst the arbitrator will still be quite unfettered and be entitled to have regard to all the circumstances and to do what he thinks right, if the option has been exercised by the Board he shall, amongst other general considerations, have regard to the importance of the particular asset in respect of which the option is exercised from the Board's point of view, and he shall weigh that against the disadvantage to the owner consequent upon a transfer taking place. If, on the other hand, the option is exercised by the owner, the arbitrator, looking at the circumstances generally, shall pay particular regard to the extent to which the asset, if it were left in the hands of the owner, would be useful to him. If the arbitrator comes to the conclusion that the asset would be of no use to the owner, then he may decide that it should be transferred to the Board although the Board does not particularly want it. Having regard to those particular considerations, and looking at the matter in the light of them and of the general position, he will be free to do what seems right and just.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

The learned Attorney-General prefaced his remarks by saying that he, and, I think, the Government, are always willing and ready to accept Opposition Amendments.

The Attorney-General:

If they improve the Bill.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

I think the present condition of the Order Paper indicates fairly clearly that the Government have seen their way virtually to accepting a very large number of Amendments which were moved by my hon. Friends upstairs in Committee. There is fairly clear indication from what has happened that, not only were the objects of our Amendments not in the original intention of the Government, but also that the Bill was brought before the House before quite a number of aspects of policy had been settled. As this Clause originally came before the House, the question whether assets included in Parts III and IV of the First Schedule should be transferred was left entirely open to the arbitrator to decide, without any guidance at all. It is all very well for the learned Attorney-General to make a statement to the effect that that would leave it open to the arbitrator to consider the matter in general. In fact, there is no indication what is to be the criterion which the arbitrator is to take. The question whether or not the assets are to be trans ferred is, on the face of it, a question of policy. It is a question whether or not the assets are required for this new monopoly enterprise. That is a question of policy which must be determined by the Board, which will make up its mind on this sort of question.

In moving the Amendment upstairs I ventured to suggest that it was essential to give some indication to the arbitrator as to what was required. The Amendment which we proposed made three suggestions. It suggested that the arbitrator should look, first, at the advantage to the Board in the conduct of its business; secondly, to the advantage to the owner in the conduct of his business, such of it as remained to him; thirdly, to the relative financial advantage or hardship to both parties. I would submit that these are very properly indications of the circumstances which the arbitrator will have to take into account when he considers whether these particular assets are to be transferred or not.

4.30 p.m.

It is true that the Amendment was not altogether satisfactory in form, and indeed, in moving it, I submitted that it would no doubt require to be further considered and said that, if the Government were willing to accept it in principle, it could be withdrawn and a suitable alternative put before us. Now the position is that the Government are moving to delete the Amendment which was then accepted and are suggesting an alternatve, but I am afraid I cannot agree that the alternative is altogether satisfactory. It directs the arbitrator to have regard to all the circumstances, and that is quite clear and fair, but, on the other hand, it goes on to direct him, in particular cases, to have reference to particular circumstances, and I note that those words so beloved by the Parliamentary draftsmen, "without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing," in this case, are omitted. From that I assume, to quote a phrase commonly on the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, "inclusio unius est exclusio alterius," which in this particular case means that the exclusion of those words would indicate that all the circumstances are not to be considered, but that these particular circumstances are to outweigh anything else that may be put forward. Be that as it may, I do riot think that the wording of the Amendment which the learned Attorney-General has moved is in accord with what he said. It is really a little difficult to say precisely what the last few lines of the Amendment mean: The arbitrator shall have regard … in particular, … to the importance to the Board, for the purposes of any activities which they are required or authorised to carry on, of the assets being vested in them, and, where the exercise of the option is by the owner, to the extent to which the severance of the assets in question from other assets of his which are vested or to be vested in the Board affects the usefulness to him of the assets in question. I cannot read these words as meaning that the arbitrator has to take into account the advantage which the owner would gain if he were entitled to retain the assets against the wishes of the Board. It does not seem to me that those words have that meaning at all, though I understood that that was the intention which was expressed by the learned Attorney-General in moving this Amendment. I am not absolutely certain what effect they do have, they are extraordinarily obscure in their construction. In the phrase: affects the usefulness to him of the assets in question, I should have thought that the "assets in question" are the assets which are being transferred, and clearly, if the assets are in fact transferred, they can no longer be of any use whatever to their original owner. I cannot see how in those circumstances it is possible to make those words mean "the usefulness which they would have to the original owner together with his other assets if in fact he retained them," and that, I should have thought, was essentially a question to be considered in a case of this kind.

For that reason, I am afraid that I do not find the Amendment as satisfactory in intention as the original Amendment which is now incorporated in the Bill. It may be that if the learned Attorney-General can clear the matter up, or give some assurance that indeed the effect of the words is that the arbitrator has to have regard to the advantage of the assets in question to the owner, if they remain with him, in the continuance of his business—if that is the meaning of the words, or if they can be amended on some future occasion so as to have that meaning, I shall be content with the Amendment as it stands. As it is I am afraid I cannot altogether thank the Government because they have not quite met the point we raised.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

In moving this Amendment the learned Attorney-General was a little harsh upon the provision of the Bill which it is designed to excise. When one remembers that the learned Attorney-General, if not the legitimate parent, was at any rate the putative father of these very words, he seems to lack a certain degree of paternal affection towards them. But, as has been so lucidly pointed out by the hon. Baronet, the words which he now proposes to put in their place are no better, and in one particular respect are somewhat worse, than those now in the Bill. In particular there is the fact, as the hon. Baronet has pointed out, that the arbitrator's attention is not directed specifically to the interests and position of the owner of assets in cases where the Board's option is involved. The original provision, as at present in the Bill, did deal in some way with that subject matter. Paragraph (c) of Subsection (3) of the proviso as it now stands, directs the arbitrator to consider: The relative financial advantage and the relative financial loss or hardship which would accrue to the respective parties if the assets in question were to vest in accordance with the notice exercising the option. I do not pretend that those words are drafted with perfection, but they do invite the attention of the arbitrator to this point, which in a good many cases will be one of considerable substance. They envisage a situation in which the option is exercised by the Board and in which the property in dispute is property of really great importance to the owners, the loss of which may involve them in having to close down their business. Surely, in equity, that is a matter of first class importance and, if it is desired in the drafting of this Bill specifically to draw the attention of the arbitrator to any point, one would have thought that that would be a point to which his attention should be directed. It might have been thought that it was unnecessary to direct the arbitrator to consider specific points; it might have been as well to have left it at telling him to consider all the circumstances. That would be a nice broad provision which committed the Government to nothing, but having gone out of their way to select certain subjects it is very significant indeed that they are not directing the arbitrator to consider this subject matter, although in the provision of the Bill as it now stands his attention is directed to it. It leaves in one's mind a shadow of suspicion that the Government do not consider the interests of the owner in these circumstances as of any particular importance. I hope, now that this point has been brought forward, that the assurance asked for by the hon. Baronet beside me will be given by the Government freely, frankly and unequivocally.

Captain Crookshank:

I, too, hope that will be the case, because what the Government have done is to agree that there should be some yardstick by which the arbitrator should be guided. In the Bill as it was originally introduced there was nothing; it just said that this matter was to go to arbitration and left it at that. My hon. Friend proposed the words which are now in the Bill and which it is sought to exclude not in any dogmatic way, as he specifically said when moving the Amendment, but in order to indicate the sort of line which we thought ought to be put to the arbitrator. That major point, that something should be put into the Bill, has been conceded by the Government. We are very grateful for that.

The second point is whether the proposals now suggested by my hon. Friends are apt for the purpose. I am not competent to take the legal points which my hon. Friends have put before the Attorney-General, but I do hope he will consider them, even if he cannot make any modification now, because to the layman there seemed to be a case in what they said. To the layman it is a little difficult to understand what exactly the import of the word "importance" is. The arbitrator is, in particular, to have regard "to the importance to the Board." Well, "importance" is an extremely wide term. It might be financial importance, or it might be geographical importance, or it might be importance from the point of view of management, the employment of work people in a certain way, or many other things like that. I do not know whether it is intended to specify it a little more directly, as we originally did in the Amendment we had in Committee.

I hope that, having conceded the point, the hon. and learned Gentleman being now, as he admits, awake to the issue, will browse over it in any leisure time his colleagues allow him between now and subsequent stages of the Bill, and will consider what my hon. Friends have said, to see whether any further advance can be made towards what we all want—fairly clear directions, if that is the right word, to the arbitrator of the general usefulness and other aspects of these transfers. I hope, therefore, that the learned Attorney-General, though I know he will not be able to say anything now, will not close his mind on this point in view of the rather chequered history of the whole problem, so that there will be some guidance to the arbitrator.

Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford)

There is one small suggestion I would submit to the Attorney-General. It seems to me unfortunate that in one part of the Clause the word "importance" should be used and that in a later part of the Clause the word "usefulness" should be used. It seems to me the same word should be used in both cases. Either "importance" or "usefulness" should be used in each case. It seems to me essential that the two should be the same.

Amendment agreed to.

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, in page 6, line 35, to leave out "primary vesting date," and to insert "date of receiving notice to exercise option."

4.45 p.m.

Major P. Roberts:

As the Clause is drafted, and as I understand it, there will be an option of the Board to bring into its orbit as an ancillary asset various undertakings—companies, or businesses of private persons—which are ancillary to the coal industry; and also, as I see it, of the people who are running those businesses, companies or private persons, some may be opted in by the Board, and others may be left out. This Clause, as drafted, covers all people who may conceivably, within the first year or so, as the regulations may say, be opted into the Board's activities. These people will have to act as agents for the Government. The agency will be a retrospective agency, as the Clause now stands, back to the vesting date. I admit that where and when the option is exercised, then those people will know where they stand. They have to be opted as retrospective agents. But the trouble in the industry as a whole will be the large number of other businesses that will be kept waiting, possibly for a year, not knowing whether they are to be opted or not, while the whole time having to say, "The business must be kept running in case we should become retrospective agents." That is the way the Clause is drawn, and the Amendment which I am supporting says that the agency shall start only as and when the Board say, "We want to take over the business." I think it will lead to a lack of production and enterprise if people are kept waiting for a period, not knowing whether they are to be called to account for what they are doing.

The Attorney-General upstairs used two arguments in support of the Clause as it now stands, both of which, I submit, are not good ones. The first was that although, admittedly, the person who is opted upon may have to hand over profits, the thing may work the other way, and the Board may have to make up losses. I maintain it is not part of the Board's duty to act as a lottery crgambling enterprise and to say that it may win on some and lose on others. We do not want that at all. We want the thing practically, fairly cut and dried, and to know from what time the agency is to start. The second point the hon. and learned Gentleman raised was that it had been agreed with the Mining Association. As I see it, this does not affect in any way the interests of the colliery concerns, because it is mainly applied to the ancillary undertakings, small businesses, and so on, which may be taken over by the Board. I submit that the fact that the Mining Association agrees or does not should not affect the decisions of the Government on this subject. It is a little difficult, because throughout the proceedings the Government have been in secret conclave with the Mining Association. Although it has been suggested we represent colliery undertakings, it is very difficult for us, because of the secrecy which the Ministry have put upon the Mining Association, to know exactly what their undertakings are. I do suggest that retrospective agency is bad, in any event. There must be some very good reason for such a thing, and as far as I know, there is no good reason, except possibly, the convenience of certain of the administrators. The Attorney-General should think hard upon this poin to find out whether the maximum benefit is going to the consumers or to the administrators. I, therefore, support this Amendment.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

I desire to support what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend, and, in particular, to ask the learned Attorney-General two questions. As I understand the position, the assets in question here will be, for the most part, substantial assets, either in the nature of a whole business or, at any rate, physical assets which will be largely the assets which go to make up a business. If that business is the property of a company, the company will not know for a period, which may be as long as a year, whether or not it is carrying on the business on its own behalf, or on behalf of the Board. In the meanwhile, the business will be earning profits. The question I wish to ask the Attorney-General is this. If the company puts away profits which have been earned on that business, will it have to account for all or any part of the profits paid away in dividends? I think we are entitled to a clear answer on that point. The other question is whether a company or private individual carrying on the business, either of the asset itself or comprising the asset, will be entitled to any remuneration for the trouble of carrying on the business. This Clause sets up a contract of agency, and a contract of agency may or may not include implied terms. In this case, there must be a number of terms implied in the contract. We asked upstairs what terms the Government regarded as being implied in this agency, but so far we have had no very clear answer. I think we are entitled to a reply from the Government on whether any company or person who uses the asset for conducting his business, devoting time and labour and using his capital for that purpose, will be entitled to any remuneration implied in the contract of agency.

The Attorney-General:

There really are no merits in the Amendment, in spite of the attractive manner in which it has been put before the House. The scheme of the Bill is that the assets which are to be operated by the Board, either on automatic transfer or by exercise of option, should be deemed to be the Board's as from the primary vesting date, and if, as may be the case, the Board has not actually taken over on that date, the owner will manage as if he were acting as an agent for the Board. It would be manifestly inconvenient if that general plan were departed from in the case of these assets, the transfer of which depend upon the exercise of an option. The disadvantages of a retroactive agency cut both ways. The owner who finds his operation of the non-transferred asset is not advantageous, by the exercise of option can make the Board shoulder the burden as from the primary vesting date. It is true that the owner whose operation of the assets has been successful, may have to part from them, but, as I say, it cuts both ways. There is really no difficulty about it. Until the owners of the assets concerned have been notified of the exercise of the option, they will continue to conduct their business just as they would conduct it if there were no question of option being exercised at all. They will treat the matter as if the business were their own property, as it would be at that stage, and they will continue to conduct it to the best possible advantage, and to make whatever profit they can out of it. If in the ordinary course they pay dividends or meet any normal outgoings, they will be entitled so to do.

Is it to be said that because of the possibility of the exercise of such an option, owners subject to the possibility of that exercise will not continue to conduct their business to the best advantage? Of course they will do so, and they will continue to make the greatest possible profit, whether that profit is to inure to their own benefit, or to the benefit of the State The owners are all patriotic people; they are represented by hon. Members opposite. We can rely on them conducting their business to the best possible advantage. As to the question of remuneration, they will get exactly the same as they would get from running their business in the ordinary course. If the profit is dividends, they will get the dividends, and if the profit is a salary, they will get the salaries.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

The Clause specifically says that the owners are to account to the Board for all rents, profits, and other income for that period arising therefrom. If they are to account, how can they keep the profit?

The Attorney-General:

They must account for all the incomings and outgoings of the business in respect of the period over which the retroactive agency operates, but they will conduct their businesses during that period. In the ordin ary course, money comes in from rent and other sources of income, and money goes out by way of salaries or dividends, but the profits of the concern are not the rents and incomings alone. The profits of the concern are paid out to the company, or individual, which conducts the concern by way of dividends or salaries, and outgoings of that kind, paid in the normal course, the owner of the business will continue to get. He will conduct his business in exactly the same way, and, as far as I can see, he will be in no way affected by the exercise of this option in a retroactive manner, except that he will lose his business.

Major Roberts:

Therefore, it is not contemplated that any disciplinary action is to be taken against these people if they do not act quite as agents should?

The Attorney-General:

If they have acted in a normal and proper way in the course of their business, they will not be damnified in any way. That is the reason why the Miners Association, representing as it does the great bulk of the agency affected by this provision, agree that the provision is a proper one.

Amendment negatived.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move, in page 7, line 41, at the end, to insert: (8) Notwithstanding anything in Subsection (1) of this Section, the Minister may by order exclude from the operation of that Subsection an asset described in Part I of the First Schedule to this Act, if an application in that behalf is made to him by the Board not later than the expiration of one year from the primary vesting date and the owner of the asset in question consents. Where an order under this Subsection is made after the primary vesting date, the asset in question, and any easements, property and rights which would otherwise have been vested in the Board therewith, shall be deemed never to have vested in the Board.

Clause 5 (1) provides for the general transfer of the assets referred to in the First Schedule. It is proposed in this Amendment to make exceptions at the option of the Board and with the consent of the owner of the assets. These assets are of a varying character. Some are minor assets, and some are incidental to the working of coal. Perhaps I may give a few illustrations. For example, there are the free miners in the Forest of Dean, who work their own "gales," as they are called, that is to say they operate the gales and do not lease them out to other persons. These gales are of no practical importance, but if on the other hand there are gales worked by companies, they will not come within the scope of the proposed Amendment.

The general position under the Bill, where workings are primarily worked for purposes of getting minerals other than coal, but where some coal is unavoidably worked along with the other minerals, is that such workings will not vest in the Board. That is to say, where the primary object is the working of certain minerals, and the working of coal is purely incidental, these ought not to vest in the Board. There may be, in addition, special cases where coal has only been the primary object of the workings during the war, and, immediately after the war, it may have been no longer regarded as necessary.

There are two Amendments to the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Ecclesall (Major Roberts), and, perhaps, it might suit the convenience of hon. Members if I make a brief reference to both of them. They are in line 9, at the end, to add: and the Minister may by Order include in the operation of that Subsection an asset not described in Part I of the First Schedule to this Act, if an application in that behalf is made to him by the owner of such asset in question not later than the expiration of one year from the primary vesting date and the Board consents. and in line 9, at the end, to add: and the Minister may by Order include in the operation of that Subsection an asset used for coal carbonisation and coal products distillation activities allied with colliery activities, if an application in that behalf is made by the owner, not later than the expiration of one year from the primary vesting date and the Board consents.

As regards the first Amendment, in our view this ought to be rejected, because the purpose of the proposed Amendment is to make it possible for the Minister, in cases where the Board and the owner agree, to exclude from vesting any particular asset which would otherwise compulsorily vest in the Board. The purpose of the Amendment to the Amendment is to enable the Minister, on the application of the owner, compulsorily to vest in the Board an asset which would not otherwise be compulsorily vested. There appears to be no reason for this, because, as the hon. and gallant Member who was familiar with proceedings in Committee will know, there is a mutual option embodied in Part II of the First Schedule which appears to cover that point. Therefore, with regard. to that Amendment to the Amendment I ask that it should be rejected.

The further Amendment to the Amendment has, I understand, been put on the Order Paper because it relates to a special case. There may be, for example, a case with which a colliery coke oven is owned jointly by two colliery concerns, and, as the Bill now stands, such a coke oven could not properly be vested under the Bill, although it may be advantageous to all concerned that it should be so vested. I am unable to accept this Amendment to the Amendment, as it stands, but I am advised that there is a point of substance in it, and although it is my view and the view of my advisers that the drafting is defective—I make no complaint on that score because I appreciate the difficulties of this highly complicated Bill—I think I can give an undertaking that we might consider—I cannot put it higher than that—in another place, dealing with this particular problem, if we find that is necessary.

Major Roberts

I wish to thank the Minister for what he has said, and I am quite satisfied with the assurance which he has given. As the Minister has given an assurance that another Amendment of this kind will be brought forward, I do not propose to move mine.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

A small point arises in the second paragraph of the Government Amendment. Under the Subsection, an asset may be actually transferred and used by the Board for a period up to one year. So far as I can see, the type of assets which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind would not call for any question of compensation, but there may be assets which would be re-transferred under this Amendment, which would be out of the use of the owners for some period up to one year, the loss of the use of which might have worked to the financial detriment of the owner. It is true that the retransfer can only take place with the consent of the owner, and there may be some bargaining as to the terms of the settlement, but I would like an assurance from the Government that, in an appropriate case, the Board would pay compensation where it had the use of an asset which was subsequently returned to the original owner of the asset.

Mr. Shinwell

That is a new point to me, and there may be substance in it. I should say that as a result of the Board requiring to retransfer an asset to the former owners, any loss sustained by the owners would be a question to be considered as regards compensation. I would like to look into the matter, and see whether there is anything in it.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 6.—(Transfer of rights and liabilities under contracts.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 8, line 1, to leave out from "If," to "entered," in line 5, and to insert: in the case of any of the provisions of such a contract as is mentioned in the Second Schedule to this Act, being provisions so entered into as to render that Schedule applicable to them subject to the limitations contained in this section, the Board are of opinion that that Schedule ought not to apply thereto either at all or to any particular extent, on the ground that they were not reasonably necessary for the purposes mentioned in paragraph that Schedule, or that they were.

There is a series of Government Amendments to this Clause—14 Amendments in all—and they are, substantially drafting Amendments. The first 13 of them relate to Subsection (2) and the last to Subsection (3). With the permission of the House, I may, perhaps, deal with them together Clause 6 provides for the transfer to the Board of rights and liabilities under contracts entered into by outgoing owners, and the general effect of the Clause is to put the Board into the shoes of the departing owners. The Clause is linked with the Second Schedule of the Bill, and when the Schedule reached the Committee, it was fairly drastically altered, and the language in Clause 6 ceased to be appropriate.

Thus the opening words of Subsection (2) refer to the Second Schedule applying to "a contract " and the Schedule itself refers to "the provisions of a contract," and, as a result of that situation, a number of drafting Amendments had to be made in order to bring the two into line. In the first Amendment, the words substituted for those starting on line I are put in as a result of a suggestion made by the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth), and they will enable the Board to modify contracts without repudiating the whole of them. That brings the whole Clause into line with the proviso to Subsection (2). Similarly, the Amendment to line 17 leaves out the words " between that party and the Board," which will permit other parties interested in the contract to come in and be heard by the arbitrator.

Colonel Clarke

There is a point to which I want to draw attention and I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me if I do it in words of one syllable and not in legal language, because I, unfortunately, have no knowledge of the law. It appears to me that Subsection (2), as it stands at present, enables the Board to decline to take over a contract if they feel that such a contract would not be reasonably necessary for the purposes of the activities to which it related, or if those who made it might be considered to have entered into it without due business prudence.

This right, of course, is subject to arbitration except in the case of a contract that has been made since the intention to nationalise was made known on 1st August, 1945. After that date the Board can only be taken to arbitration if the Minister agrees. It is now proposed to alter Subsection (2) and the proposed alterations suggest that the Board instead of giving notice that they reject the contract as a whole—they may give notice that they will reject certain parts of the provisions on the grounds of improvidence, either wholly or to such an extent as they specify. As the Clause stands the Board, as regards any particular contract, have to take it or leave it. They could not divide it up and take part of it and leave part of it.

It appears to me that such a power is a danger. It is very wide and there are dangerous implications in it, particularly as regards the contracts made with employees. It seems that in the proposed Amendment, if it became law, the Board might take over an official or any servant of a colliery, who has got a service contract. As an example, the Board might decide to reject part of a contract, say the amount of salary payable to a servant, on the grounds that such salary was more than he was worth and, therefore, improvident. They may cut it down to say two-thirds of the salary, but at the same time they would honour the contract on the terms stated, but obviously it would be definitely prejudicial. Of course, the employee, provided the contract was made before 1st August, 1945, could take the Board to arbitration, but there are difficulties about that. It may be an expensive thing, it takes a lot of time, and employees do not like taking their masters to arbitration. I may be wrong about this—I hope I am—but I trust I have made clear what my views are. Perhaps the Attorney-General can assure us that that is not the power, or the intention of the proposed Amendment.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

As this Amendment has been moved in response to recommendations made by my hon. Friends and myself upstairs, I should like to thank the Government for having met us, but I am bound to say that I think the Amendment should be given a greater welcome from the other side of the House, because paragraph 2 of this Clause as now drafted makes absolute nonsense. The statement that a contract under any circumstances was not reasonably necessary for the purposes of the activities to which it relates has, in my opinion, no meaning whatsoever and, indeed, that is now acknowledged by the Government in putting down this Amendment to alter it. It is an alteration which strengthens the Bill, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman might have shown some further signs of producing the white sheet here this afternoon. The Amendment covers the points made, and I think we should be duly grateful for the concession.

5.15 p.m.

The Attorney-General

By leave of the House may I deal with the points raised by the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke) and the hon. Member for South Hendon (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) ? I take the latter first. As I said earlier, we are always delighted to be able to accept useful suggestions from the Opposition Members. In fact, we regard useful suggestions from them as gems of purest ray serene. They are all the more valuable because of their rarity and so we snatch at them. We are very glad of the help given on this Clause. I think the fears indicated by the hon and gallant Member for East Grinstead are misconceived. It does not appear to me that there could be any power in the Board to, as the lawyers say, approbate and reprobate in regard to the same matter in any particular contract. They could not take the servant and at the same time not take the liability for the wages for which he agreed to serve. Either they have to take the servant at the agreed wage or not take him at all. What the Board may do, as I understand the position, is to adopt parts of a contract dealing with specific matters, but not adopt the rest.

Colonel Clarke

I thank the Attorney-General for his answer.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 8, line 6, to leave out " they," and to insert "the Board."

In line 10, to leave out " provisions of the."

In line 11 to leave out " contract," and to insert: provisions to which the notice relates, either at all or to the extent specified in the notice, as the case may be.

In line 12, to leave out " rights and liabilities accrued thereunder," and to insert "performance thereof due under the contract."—[The Attorney-General.]

Mr. H. Macmillan

I beg to move, in page 8, line 13, after " notice)," to insert: unless either party aforesaid gives notice of appeal to arbitration under this Section, in which case the contract shall remain in force pending the decision of the arbitrator.

Major Roberts

The object of this Amendment is to safeguard the employees of the Board who may be tyrannised over. I am glad that we have got some support from some of the representatives on the Government side who say that they represent the miners. They have been extraordinarily absent so far, and they have not made their voices heard in the Debate up to the present. In fact, they might almost be boycotting the Debate. The object of this Amendment is to safeguard the man who is wrongfully dismissed from the employment of the Board, and who goes to arbitration and is then reinstated, thus having his innocence proved. Meanwhile, during the arbitration, because of a wrongful decision of the Board, he has been unemployed waiting for the result of that arbitration. I am now talking about a contract made before August, 1945, and not about contracts which come into the second part of the Clause where there may be some suggestion that the contract was brought about fraudulently. The Amendment deals with contracts which the Board may, in their wisdom, decide are against the public interest.

Assume that they decide that a man has been employed under a contract which was not in the public interest. The man may have been employed for five years, 10 years or more. They say, " We terminate your contract. You must leave our employment." The man, in righteous indignation, appeals to arbitration, and his appeal is upheld. It is wrong that, because dictatorial powers have been given to the Board, the man should be deprived of the necessities of life. The object of the Amendment is to lay it down that until a contract is proved bad, the man should have the benefit of the doubt. That is the normal thing that we do in our English courts of justice. Merely because a guilty man may get off does not mean that we assume all guilty before the result of the trial. This Amendment embodies just that principle. I am glad that the Home Secretary is here because I am sure he could give weight to my argument. He must have had these problems to deal with very often and I am sure he would agree that because in the majority of cases before the courts people are guilty, that is no reason to assume all people are guilty before the trial takes place. I admit that there will be some difficulty in administration. There may be cases where men have been rightly dismissed but have to be kept on the books for a certain time, and that may be difficult. That is no reason why we should give away the natural safeguards and liberties of the innocent man, for which we have been fighting for centuries.

To hon. Members opposite who have the real interests of the employees of the mining industry at heart, I suggest that they should look at the Clause again and see whether they do not agree that there is a good deal of justice in the proposition which is put up by us, and that unless the Amendment is accepted there may be injustice. We may have the answer from the Government Front Bench that this is unlikely to happen and that the National Coal Board will be model em- ployers, but that is no reason why such a provision should not be put in.

The Attorney-General

The Amendment is misconceived. The effect of the Second Schedule is that contracts to which it applies shall have effect as if the Board were a party to them, instead of the colliery company. The fact that the Board gives notice under Clause 6 (2) does not itself put an end to those contracts. It may, in practice, frustrate them to some extent, but that depends upon the circumstances. The only effect of the Board's giving notice is that the Second Schedule is not brought into operation, and that therefore the contract is not transferred to the Board. The contract continues to subsist. If it is a contract of employment the person concerned continues as the servant of the other party to the contract, possessed of whatever rights he may have against that party.

Major Roberts

I quite appreciate that point, but a great many people are on a weekly contract and it may be possible for their employers to say, "We shall keep you for a week and then dismiss you."

The Attorney-General

That is not affected by the Clause. The Board will take over the contract under the Second Schedule or they will not. If a colliery company entered into a weekly contract with some employee, the Board will take the contract over, under the obligation to continue the employment for a week. If they thought it not desirable to do so they would have the same liberty as the men's previous employer to terminate the employment. The Clause is intended to deal with contracts of a longer term and it gives the Board an opportunity to consider whether the contracts are advantageous. If they say " No " and they serve the notice which is proper under the Clause, the contract in question is not transferred to the Board. If the arbitration goes against the Board, transfer takes place.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Suppose a man on a weekly engagement is " sacked " by the Board. Has he the right to refer his case to arbitration?

The Attorney-General

He has exactly the same rights as he possesses now under the contract into which he has entered. Whatever the terms of the contract may be he continues to possess exactly the same rights under it. If he is subject to a week's notice he gets it. He is not entitled to go to arbitration against the Board any more than he was against his previous employer.

Mr. H. Macmillan

As I understand this matter. it deals with long-term contracts, of a year, two years or three years, for people like salesmen or managers, and those who are rather more highly paid than workers upon a weekly or monthly contract. The Amendment is related only to contracts made before the guillotine falls, that is to say, made when they could have no relationship to possible nationalisation. If the Board decide not to take over the contract, the man who made it with the company still is the servant of the company under the contract. On the other hand, that position is rather inconvenient and may lead to difficulty because the employee may have contracted to do things which neither he nor the company can do. Suppose he is a sales manager under a five-year contract at so much per year. He goes on being the sales manager because he has made the contract. It is not only a question of whether the contract is fair or not, but of being able to carry it out, because he would be precluded by other parts of this Measure from selling coal. Would it not be reasonable to say that where the subsequent arbitration showed that the contract was one which ought to be carried on, especially in this class of case, pending the arbitration the man should remain and carry on the job and not just be dismissed? It is possible that the company would not be in a position to carry out the contract. Therefore, there might be a number of men whom this Amendment would benefit and who, otherwise, would be left high and dry for six months, or whatever time arbitration might take. I hope that the Attorney-General will see his way to accept the Amendment.

The Attorney-General

I will certainly consider the point. There would be great difficulty involved in it. It might expose the Board to having to continue for a time contracts which were manifestly improvident, and to meet them out of public funds.

Mr. Macmillan

This is a matter of dealing with contracts made perhaps five or 10 years ago. Whether they are good or bad they are certainly not fraudulent or fictitious.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. C. Williams

When I heard the Attorney-General explain his outlook on these contracts I thought I had never heard anyone who regarded a contract between an employer and an employee in quite such a hard-hearted way. His whole outlook was, "Here is a contract, and you can do what you like." A principle of some substance is involved in the Amendment, namely, that if there is a dispute about a contract, and it goes to arbitration, then, during that time of arbitration, the contract should not be stopped. I quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that if there was a ludicrous contract it ought not to be carried on, but where there is an ordinary contract, a long-term contract, I should have thought that it would have been easy to have laid it down in the Bill that such a contract should carry on if the matter of dispute was taken to arbitration. I certainly hope that further consideration will be given to this point, and that the Government will be reasonably considerate.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)

I want to ask the Attorney-General to bear one point in mind. This Subsection deals with contracts which are taken over by the Board. The Board may decide not to take a contract over if it is improvident. Take the case of a sales manager, employed on a three-year contract. The Attorney-General says that if the Board do not want to take that contract over it is all right, because the sales manager can be continued to be employed by the colliery company. But there may be no coal to sell. Surely, in those circumstances, that contract will come to an end; surely, defunct colliery companies, whose whole business is to come to an end, and who will no longer, perhaps, receive any revenue, are not going to be saddled for some years with contracts the purposes for which have wholly ceased. I want to ask the Attorney-General whether those contracts will be enforced, or whether nationalisation will bring them to an end.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

In a case of that kind, where there is a measure of relief to go to someone who has a contract which cannot be carried on by the company, and the Board do not want to take it over, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the money which should be paid to the employee should come from compensation, and not from the Board?

Mr. H. Macmillan

If I may speak again by the leave of the House, I want to say that we should not press the Amendment if the Attorney-General would say that he intended to meet the point in substance.

The Attorney-General

I said we would look at it.

Mr. Macmillan

Can I press the hon. and learned Gentleman to go a little further? I do not want to press the words as they are drafted, but will he meet the substance of the point?

The Attorney-General

I cannot give an undertaking that we will move any particular Amendment in another place, but I will consider the Clause again in the light of the observations that have been made by Members opposite

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made:

In page 8, line 15, leave out " given," and insert " served"

In line 16, after the first " the," insert " next."

In line 17, leave out " between that party and the Board."

In line 19, leave out " contract was," and insert " provisions in question were."

In line 20, leave out "was," and insert "were."

In line 21, leave out from the first " the," to the end of line 22, and insert:

"Second Schedule to this Act is to apply to them."

In line 23, leave out " contract providing," and insert " provision."

In line 24, after "services," insert: or for the giving of consideration therefor, being a provision.

In line 26, leave out from "date" to "a," in line 28.—[The Attorney-General.]

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

The Attorney-General.

Mr. Macmillan

On a point of Order. Are you not selecting, Sir, the Amendment in my name—in page 8, line 28, to leave out from " provision," to the end of the Subsection, and to insert: and as to which the Board are of opinion that the provisions of the Second Schedule to this Act ought not to apply, on the grounds or either of the grounds set out in the foregoing Subsection they shall serve upon the person liable under the contract to render such personal services a notice stating that they are of such opinion, and setting out the grounds for such opinion, and a reference to arbitration as aforesaid shall not be made unless that person gives notice in writing within such time as may be specified in such statement, not being less than fourteen days from the service thereof, that he requires the matter to be referred to arbitration as aforesaid.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

No. It has not been selected by Mr. SPEAKER.

CLAUSE 7.—(Vesting in the Board of certain rights to use land.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 8, line 43, at the end, to insert: and that Section shall extend so as to confer on the Board, in relation to minerals other than coal, being minerals interests in which vest in the Board by virtue of Section five of this Act or are otherwise acquired by them, the like rights and powers as respects operations for the like purposes as are mentioned in the said Section fifteen.

This Clause is consequential on the transfer to the Board of the assets of the Coal Commission. Section 15 of the Coal Act, 1938, confers on the Coal Commission, in relation to underground land, power to do various things in the course of operations carried on for the purpose of coal mining. Section 32 of that Act extends these powers to have effect in relation to other minerals than coal, if the Coal Commission acquires them. This is a drafting Amendment to bring the provisions of the Bill into line with those of the Coal Act, 1938.

Mr. C. Williams

I have not an intimate knowledge of the law on this matter, and I would like an assurance that this does not apply to other mines, of which I have knowledge but with which I am not connected, for instance, tin mines in Cornwall, or slate quarries, or anything of that sort.

Sir A. Gridley

Would this Amendment, if carried, extend the rights of the Minister to take over ironstone mines, under the words "minerals other than coal "?

The Attorney-General

This Amendment does nothing to extend the powers which already exist and which are vested in the Coal Commission. Of course, if it happened that, in the course of our mining operations, we discovered in a particular coal mine a vein of gold, we should not neglect to work it.

Mr. C. Williams

Do the Government intend to go outside the coal mining area for other minerals?

Mr. H. Macmillan

The Attorney-General told us this was a drafting Amendment, and in a sense it is, to the extent that, had it been thought of, the Clause would have been differently drafted, but it would help us if the Attorney-General would tell us what are the minerals which are now vested in the Coal Commission by Section 15 of the Coal Act, 1938. I think the illustration he gave was not a correct one, because gold, if it were found, would belong to the Crown in any case, and would not be handed over to the Coal Board. Certain minerals belong to the Crown and others have been handed over to other bodies; for instance, oil is vested in another body. It would clear our minds if we could know what are the minerals mentioned in Section 15 of 1938 Act.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 311; Noes, 148.

Division No. 166.] AYES. [15.42 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Daggar, P. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Daines, P. Hardy, E. A.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Edward (Burslem) Harrison, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Haworth, J.
Allighan, Garry Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Herbison, Miss M
Alpass, J. H. Davies, Harold (Leek) Hicks, G.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hobson, C. R.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Holman, P.
Attewell, H. C. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Awbery, S. S. Deer, G. Horabin, T. L.
Ayles, W. H. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hoy. J.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Delargy, Captain H. J. Hubbard, T.
Bacon, Miss A. Diamond, J. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Balfour, A. Debbie, W. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Dodds, N. N. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Barstow, P. G Donovan, T. Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.)
Barton, C. Driberg, T. E. N. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Battley, J. R. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Dumpleton, C. W. Irving, W. J.
Bechervaise, A. E Dye, S. Janner, B.
Benson, G. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Berry, H. Edelman, M. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Beswick, F. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) John, W.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Edwards, John (Blackburn) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Binns, J. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Blyton, W. R. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Keenan, W.
Boardman, H. Ewart, R. Kenyon, C.
Bottomley, A. G. Fairhurst, F. King, E. M.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Farthing, W. J. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Bowen, R. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Kinley, J.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Follick, M. Kirby, B. V.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Foot, M. M. Lang, G.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Forman, J. C. Lavers, S.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Foster, W. (Wigan) Lee, F. (Hulme)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Lee, Miss J.(Cannock)
Brown, George (Belper) Gaitskell, H. T. N. Leslie, J. R.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gallacher, W. Lever, FI. Off. N. H.
Buchanan, G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Levy, B. W.
Burke, W. A. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Gibbins, J. Lindgren, G. S
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Gibson, C. W. Lipson, D. L.
Callaghan, Jamas Gilzean, A. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Castle, Mrs. B. A Glanville, J. E. (Conselt) Logan, D. G.
Chamberlain, R. A Goodrich, H. E. Lyne, A. W.
Champion, A. J. Cordon-Walker, P. C. McAdam, W.
Chater, D. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) McAllister, G.
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) McEntee, V. La T
Clitherow, Dr. R. Grenfell, D. R McGhee, H. G.
Cooks, F. S. Grey, C. F. Mack, J. D
Coldrick, W. Grierson, E. McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Collindridge, F. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.M.)
Colman, Miss G. M. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Lianelly) McKinlay, A. S.
Cook, T. F. Griffiths, Capt. W D. (Moss Side) Maclean, N. (Govan)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Gunter, Capt. R. J. McLeavy, F.
Corlett, Dr. J. Guy, W. H. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Corvedale, Viscount Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Cove, W. G. Hale, Leslie Mainwaring, W. H
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Mallalieu, J P. W.
Mann, Mrs. J. Pursey, Cmdr. H Symonds, Maj. A L.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Ranger, J. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Rankin, J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Martin, J. H. Reeves, J. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Medland, H. M. Reid, T. (Swindon) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Messer, F. Rhodes, H. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Mikardo, Ian Robens, A. Thurtle, E.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Tiffany, S.
Monsiow, W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Timmons, J.
Montague, F. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Titterington, M. F
Moody, A. S. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Tolley, L.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Rogers, G. H. R. Turner-Samuels, M.
Morley, R. Royle, C Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Sargood, R Usborne, Henry
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Scollan, T Vernon. Maj. W. F.
Mort, D. L. Scott-Elliot, W Viant, S. P.
Moyle, A. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A Wadsworth, G.
Murray, J. D Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Walkden, E.
Nally, W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Wallace G. D. (Chislehurst)
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Shawcross. Sir H. (St. Helens) Warbey, W. N.
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Watson, W. M.
Noel-Baker, Capt F. E. (Brentford) Shurmer, P. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Silverman, J. (Erdington) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Noel-Buxton, Lady Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
O'Brien, T. Simmons, C. J. While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Oldfield, W. H Skeffington, A. M. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Orbach, M. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Wigg, Col. G. E..
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Skinnard, F. W. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Parker, J. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Parker, J. Smith Ellis (Stoke) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Willey O.G (Cleveland)
Parton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Paton, J. (Norwich) Smith, T. (Normanton) Williamson, T.
Pearson, A. Snow, Capt. J. W. Willis, E.
Peart, Capt. T. F Solley, L. J. Wills, Mrs. E. A
Perrins, W. Sorensen, R. W. Wilson, J. H.
Piratin, P. Soskice, Maj. Sir F Wise, Major F. J
Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Sparks, J. A. Woods, G. S.
Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Steele, T. Yates, V. F.
Popplewell, E. Stephen, C. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Porter, E. (Warrington) Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.) Younger, Hon Kenneth
Porter, G. (Leeds) Stross, Dr. B. Zilliacus, K.
Price, M. Philips Stubbs, A. E.
Proctor, W. T. Summerskill, Dr. Edith TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Pryde, D. J. Swingler, S. Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Mr Hannan
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Foster, J. G. (Northwich) MacAndrew, Col. Sir C
Aitken, Hon. Max Fraser, Sir I. (Lansdale) McCallum, Maj. D.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Mackesen, Lt. Col. H. R.
Baldwin, A. E. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) McKie, J. H.(Galloway)
Barlow, Sir J. Glossop, C. W. H. Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Baxter, A. B. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G. Maclean, Brig. F. H. R (Lancaster)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Gridley, Sir A. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Beechman, N. A. Grimston, R. V. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)
Bennett, Sir P. Hare, Lt.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge) Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Birch, Nigel Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Manningham-Buller, R. E
Bower, N. Head, Brig. A. H. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maude, J. C.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Hogg, Hon Q. Medlicott, F.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hope, Lord J. Mellor, Sir J.
Butcher, H. W. Howard, Hon. A. Molson, A. H. E.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Morris-Jones, Sir H.
Carson, E. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W ) Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)
Challen, C. Hutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow, C.) Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Jarvis, Sir J. Neven-Spence, Sir B
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Jeffreys, General Sir G Nicholson, G.
Cooper-Key E. M. Jennings, R. Nield, B. (Chester)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon L. W Noble, Comdr. A. H. P
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Keeling, E. H. Notting. Anthony
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Cuthbert W. N. Lambert, Hon. G. Osborne, C.
Davidson, Viscountess Lancaster, Col. C. G. Peaks, Rt. Hon. O
De la Bere, R. Langford-Holt, J. Pickthorn, K.
Digby, Maj. S. W. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Pitman, I. J.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Prescott, Stanley
Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Linstead, H. N. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Drewe, C. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Raikes, H. V.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Duthie, W. S. Low, Brig. A. R. W. Rayner, Brig. P.
Eccles, D. M. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Erroll, F. J. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O Renton, D.
Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall) Studholme, H. G. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Ross, Sir R. Sutcliffe, H. Wait, Sir G. S. Harvie
Sanderson, Sir F. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Savory, Prof. D. L. Teeling, William White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Scott, Lord W. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Shephard, S. (Newark) Thomson, Sir D. (Aberdeen, S.) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Snadden, W. M. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F. York, C
Spence, H. R. Touche, G. C.
Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Turton, R. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Vane, W. M. T. Sir Arthur Young and
Strauss, H. G. (English Universities) Wakefield, Sir W. W. Major Conant.
Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Walker-Smith, D.
Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 9, line 13, at the end, to insert : (and provided also that the Board shall not be relieved from paying compensation for loss of user to the owner).

Major Roberts

As I understand it, this Subsection allows the Board to go on to land, possibly do a certain amount of damage, and then at the end pay compensation, but the proviso in page 9 says that if they do not want to pay compensation they can put the land back as it was before. I think that is roughly the result of the proviso. It seems to me that there will be a period of time when the Board are in occupation of the land and actually using it, and that in the end the Board will be entitled merely to repair what damage has been done which would be in lieu of any monetary compensation. The point I want to make is that there must be some compensation for loss of user to the owner during the time when the Board is in occupation. That is a thing which cannot be rectified merely by putting the land back into its previous state, and the object of this Amendment is to ask the learned Attorney-General to say whether or not the proposition I am putting is right and whether he would accept this or some similar Amendment which will make it clear that putting the land back into its previous condition will not satisfy any claim for compensation which might arise from loss of user.

The Attorney-General

This Amendment is really misconceived. The right of reinstatement in lieu of compensation for damage is independent of the obligation to pay compensation for loss of user, and although the Board may, if it prefers, make good any damage it may have done to the land instead of paying compensation, it will remain under an obligation to pay compensation for the actual use of the land. Amendment negatived.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 9, line 13, at the end, to insert : " (3) The Board shall be entitled, for the purposes of colliery production activities within the meaning of the First Schedule to this Act, to make, use and exercise an invention which is the subject of a patent and to apply a registered design in which copyright exists, being an invention or design a proprietary or other interest in which appears to them to fall within Subsection (r) of Section (Transfer of interests in patents and designs) of this Act or Subsection (6) thereof, as to the case may be, pending their decision as to the exercise by them of an option under that Section with respect to the interest in question and pending the taking effect of such an option when exercised or (in the case of an option with respect to a proprietary interest) the grant of a licence in lieu of the vesting of the interest in them. The exercise by the Board in any manner or for any purpose of the right conferred on them by this Subsection shall, in a case in which the relevant interest in the patent or copyright is not subsequently vested in them pursuant to the exercise of such an option as aforesaid, be subject to an obligation on them to pay proper compensation, of an amount to be determined in case of difference by arbitration under this Act, to any person entitled during any period during which the right is exercised in that manner or for that purpose to authorise the exercise thereof in that manner or for that purpose.

This is an entirely non-controversial but, at the same time, essential Amendment which will give the Board the right to use or exercise an invention or to make an invention which is the subject of a patent and to apply a registered design pending the determination of matters affecting the future of the patent or the design in accordance with the new Clause which we inserted in the Bill on Monday relating to the transfer of such patents. If the Board exercises the rights which this Clause will give it and the patent or design is not later on transferred to it under the provisions of the new Clause, it will have to pay compensation to be assessed, if need be, by arbitration.

Amendment agreed to. CLAUSE 8.—(Ascertainment of assets, rights and liabilities transferred, and determination of questions as to transfer.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 9, line 19, after " five," to insert: or section (Transfer of interests in patents and designs).

This is a drafting Amendment consequential on the introduction of the new Patents Clause.

Amendment agreed to.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 9, line 44, at the end, to insert: (4) Regulations may be made—

  1. for securing that, when compensation has been made under this Act on the basis that any assets, property, rights or liabilities have vested in or been transferred to the Board or have vested in them free from any ,charge or lien, restriction, right or liability, or when particulars of transferred interests have been recorded on that basis or other proceedings for the purposes of dealing with transferred interests for compensation have been taken on that basis and the particulars or other proceedings have become conclusive for those purposes, person, shall be estopped from questioning the vesting in or transfer to the Board of the assets, property, rights or liabilities, or the vesting thereof in them free from that charge or lien, restriction, right or liability; and
  2. otherwise for preventing the assertion, as respects matters dealt with for compensation under this Act, of claims of title made on a basis inconsistent with that on which those matters have been dealt with for that purpose."

6.o p.m.

This Clause, as the House will see, is a machinery Clause, providing for the collection, under regulations, of accurate information as to the nature, extent and ownership of the assets to be transferred, and the Amendment, which, I am afraid, has a somewhat formidable appearance which really conceals its innocent, and, I am inclined to think, abundantly cautious purpose, has as its object simply to enable the Minister to make regulations preventing anyone from drawing compensation on the basis that an asset has been vested in the Board, and then coming back and claiming that the asset did not vest at all but is in fact still his.

In other words, a person is not to be allowed to say, "You have compensated me on this particular basis, the basis I have put forward. For instance, I had a life interest in this property, but I am going to be compensated again because my real interest is something quite different." Paragraph (a) secures that regulations may be made that, when certain steps under the compensation machinery have been taken resulting in a vesting in the Board, an estoppel shall arise against questioning that vesting. Paragraph (b) is a complementary general provision to prevent the assertion of claims inconsistent with the basis on which matters have been dealt with for purposes of compensation. This matter has to be dealt with by way of regulations rather than by an actual provision in the Bill itself, because it will be necessary to specify the time from which questions are to be regarded as concluded for compensation purposes, and that can only be done when the regulations dealing with the compensation machinery have been framed. Until the question of compensation has been dealt with, anyone is at liberty to make a case that his property is outside the Bill and not a subject for vesting or compensation at all.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The Attorney-General commended this Amendment to the House, among other grounds, on the basis that it was formidable and obscure. One can give oneself the pleasure of agreeing with him as to that, but it is hardly an argument in its favour when coming from a law officer of the Crown who so very recently was unable to give any explanation at all of an Amendment which he commended to the House. The matter is, perhaps, just a little more serious than, no doubt inadvertently, the Attorney-General suggested. It brings into this Bill a question of estoppel, a question with which I have not the slightest doubt the House as a whole is entirely familiar, but it is a serious matter to debar any individual from alleging a particular state of affairs, which is what estoppel is. It is a serious and substantial matter. I cannot see what necessity there is for bringing this provision into this Bill. It would seem that the House is faced with a dilemma. Either the normal law of estoppel is sufficient to deal with this matter, in which case this Amendment is wholly unnecessary and a waste of time and paper, or alternatively, the normal law is being extended further against payment for compensation. If it be the latter, and one must give the Attorney-General the credit for it being the latter and not the former, surely the House is entitled to some explanation as to what particular danger is anticipated which makes it necessary to bring forward this Amendment at this stage of the Bill? If we are to take away once again the rights of individual citizens of this country, the House is surely entitled to be told what the necessity is? We have not been told and really it is not good enough for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to come to this House with Amendments on the Report stage and to commend them to this House either with a rather casual comment that they are formidable or obscure, or, as on the previous Amendment, with no comment of any sort at all.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)

I would like to ask, for the information of myself and other Scottish Members, whether the Minister or his Scottish advisers can say what the Scottish equivalent for "estoppel " is, because this Bill is applicable to Scotland as well as to England. I think we are entitled to know how we stand in the matter of Scottish law.

Mr. McKie (Galloway)

I should like to support very strongly what has just been said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) and I hope that the Attorney-General will see that some information is given to the House before we allow this Amendment to go through. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has already protested at the Attorney-General's explanation of how the liberties of the subject are to be interfered with even more under this Amendment, and he has also protested that no real attempt has been made—he was speaking for the English point of view—to explain to the majority of hon. Members present, who are hon. Members representing England and Wales, how this proposal is to operate as far as their interests are concerned. The hon. and gallant Member for Perth has called attention to the very much more serious predicament that Members representing Scottish constituencies are faced with owing to the drafting of this Amendment. Do not let us forget it—the Minister of Fuel and Power has pointed out how vitally Scotland is affected. Think of the vast coalfields and the undeveloped coal seams in Scotland, to which the Minister of Fuel and Power has also alluded. No one knows better than he does what Scotland's position is. He represented a Scottish mining constituency—Linlithgow —in two Parliaments.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

This is not a discussion on Scotland. The hon. Member cannot continue on these lines on this Amendment.

Mr. McKie

I have no desire to cause you, Sir, any trouble. I will conclude by saying that I hope we shall have an explanation. I think we are entitled to it. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames said that the House has not been given a full explanation on the Amendment and the hon. and gallant Member for Perth has asked the Attorney-General if he will make some attempt to clear up the whole thing and establish the position relating to estoppel in Scotland.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Are we not to have an answer?

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 10.—(Allocation of transferred interests to compensation units and to districts, and determination of their status as respects coal industry value.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 11, line 21, to leave out from " shall," to the end of line 31, and to insert: have regard to the following requirements, that is to say,—

  1. the expediency on the one hand of bringing together interests whose value would or might be affected by severance, so far as is practicable consistently with the scheme of district valuation established by this Act;
  2. the expediency on the other hand of separating interests of different owners, and of separating interests which are subject to different incidents as respects the ascertainment or satisfaction of compensation; and
  3. convenience and dispatch in valuation; and accordingly he shall treat as the normal compensation unit, subject to variation as may be needed for meeting the requirements aforesaid or special circumstances affecting particular interests, a unit consisting of all the transferred interests of a single colliery concern or other owner which are in property situated permanently in, or ordinarily operated from, a single district and which are not subject to different incidents as aforesaid."

This Amendment provides for the allocation of particular transferred interests to a particular compensation unit. It is substantially a drafting Amendment. Clause 10 (3) deals with the considerations to which the Minister is required to have regard in settling the compensation unit, and, as it stands, it appeared to us, on reconsideration, as if the existing provision was capable of some improvement. It does not at the moment indicate the need to balance against the desirability of bringing together in a single compensation unit, interests, the value of which might be detrimentally affected by being split up; for instance, a colliery and an acquired coke oven.' On the one hand, that is not brought in, on the other hand, it does not cover the undesirability of dealing with separate ownerships or with assets in different districts in the same unit, a matter which would obviously be inconvenient because of the district scheme of valuation. Again, it does not in terms enable the Minister to deal separately with interests carrying different compensation; for instance, compensation in cash rather than compensation in stock. The redraft meets, we think, these various points and will improve the operation of the machinery for grouping interest into particular compensation units.

Colonel Lancaster (Fylde)

As I raised this matter in Committee I think it fair to say that the alteration suggested by the Amendment goes some reasonable distance towards meeting the point which we discussed on that occasion. We pointed out that the breaking down of the global sum into districts was in itself a bad principle. Subject, however, to that qualification, the alteration suggested by the Attorney-General is a satisfactory one, and I would like to express gratitude for it.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 11.—(Central Valuation Board, District Valuation Boards and referees.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 13, line 26, after " matters," to insert : in relation to the said Boards and panel. This is I think a self-explanatory drafting Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 17.—(Refund of capital outlay made since 1st August, 1945.)

Mr. Shinwell

I beg to move, in page 19, line 22, to leave out from " includes," to " that," in line 23, and to insert: an interest of a colliery concern entitled to a capital outlay refund in respect of expense incurred on the provision or improvement of a thing in which that interest subsisted.

This Amendment is designed to provide for the payment of compensation arising from the capital refund arrangements already agreed. An improvement, as a result of the arrangements made, would have the effect as we believe of enhancing the value of an undertaking, but we wish to make it clear that the increased value would not be deducted from the compensation. All that would be deducted would be the actual amount of the capital refund. Perhaps I may furnish an illustration. If, for example, £1 00,000 is spent by a colliery undertaking and as the result of that expenditure, there is an enhancement in value of say, 50 per cent., the actual capital refund to be considered would not be ;£150,000 but only £100,000. The amount deducted, therefore, from the total compensation ultimately payable to the owners would be the actual amount of the refund, according to the illustration, £100,000 and not the amount of the improvement. It was very desirable that we should have arrangements of this kind in order to provide for the normal development of the industry before the vesting date occurred, and I understand that this proposal will meet with general acceptance.

Amendment agreed to.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell

I beg to move, in page 19, line 26, at the end, to insert : (7) The preceding provisions of this section shall apply in relation to a subsidiary within the meaning of the First Schedule to this Act of a colliery concern as it applies to such a concern, with the substitution for references to a colliery concern of references to such a subsidiary

This is consequential on the Amendment which has just been accepted by the House. It provides that the provisions of the preceding Clause shall apply in relation to a subsidiary, within the meaning of the First Schedule, of a colliery concern as it applies to such a concern, with the substitution for references to a colliery concern of references to such a subsidiary. In other words, it applies not only to the colliery concern but also to subsidiary undertakings.

Captain Crookshank

May I ask the Minister whether there has been, or there is likely to be any such payment to subsidiaries?

Mr. Shinwell

Yes, I should imagine there would be cases of that kind. The provision has to be made to provide for normal development in the case of certain subsidiaries and, where that has occurred, naturally we should have to comply with the provisions of this Clause.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 19.—(Recipients of compensation.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 20, line 9, to leave out " participate," and to insert " beneficial rights."

Perhaps I might deal also with the Amendment proposed to line 31, namely, to leave out from "to," to "appropriate," in line 32, and to insert "such beneficial rights in the compensation as may be." These are, substantially, drafting Amendments. Clause 19 deals with who, in the first instance, shall he legally entitled to receive the compensation that shall be payable, and the intention of paragraph (c) of Subsection (r) is that regulations shall be made to cover the case of the person who, while legally entitled to receive the compensation, is not at the same time beneficially entitled to retain it; that is, where the compensation is payable to a chargee. A normal case would be where the asset had been held by a trustee for sale and, in such a case, provision would be made for compensation to be paid to the trustee, who would be required to hold it on the trusts of the settlement just as if there had been a sale in accordance with the trusts. The only point here is that the charge on the assets might possibly be as large as the compensation payable, and the chargee would, therefore, be beneficially entitled to the whole of it. In such circumstances the use of the word " participate " would be inappropriate, and the sole purpose of these Amendments is to remove that inappropriate language.

Amendment agreed to.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 20, line 9, at the end, to insert: and the regulations to be made for the purposes of this paragraph may, without prejudice to the generality thereof, designate, as the person to be legally entitled to the compensation in any such cases falling within this paragraph as may be prescribed, the proper officer of the prescribed court or a trustee or trustees appointed by the Minister.

This deals with another matter arising under this Clause. In paragraph (c) power is given to designate a person, in cases which do not fall within the provision of paragraphs (a) or (b), who is to receive the compensation. The reason for the provision is that in certain cases—such as the one I mentioned where the transferred interest is subject to a charge—it will be necessary to specify who, in the first instance, is to receive the compensation money. It may be the chargee but, in cases of difficulty, in order to safeguard all the interests that there may be in a particular transferred interest, the interests of persons whose circumstances are perhaps not known at the time and who may eventually be found to be entitled to the beneficial interests in the compensation, it may be desirable to pay the money to trustees, or to pay it into court pending a decision in regard to the eventual entitlement.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made : In page 2o, line 31, leave out from " to," to " appropriate," in line 32, and insert : such beneficial rights in the compensation as may be."—[The Attorney-General.]

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 20, line 32, at the end, to insert:

  1. The regulations to be made under the last preceding subsection shall include provision authorising or requiring the Board to make to a person beneficially interested in respect of a restriction, right or liability from which a transferred interest is freed as mentioned in that subsection, and which was of a value to him exceeding the amount of any participation of his in the compensation, a payment in respect of the excess.
  2. The regulations to be made under section eight of this Act for ascertaining, verifying and recording particulars relating to ownership of the transferred interests, or the regulations to be made under subsection (2) of this section, may render conditional on due and punctual compliance with provisions of those regulations any right to take legal proceedings on the ground of any dealing with compensation in respect of a transfer of transferred interests—
  1. as respects the legal title thereto, otherwise than in accordance with subsection (1) of this section or regulations made under that subsection; or
  2. as respects beneficial rights in any such compensation that falls to be dealt with under subsection (2) of this section, otherwise than in accordance with regulations made under that subsection."
This Amendment deals with two different matters. The first was raised in Committee, and the Amendment now proposed is intended to make quite sure that the Board will be able to do what during the Committee stage I indicated it would do. Subsection (3) is intended to provide for cases where assets vested in the Board either free from any lien or charge under Clause 5 (6) or from easements or other rights which are extinguished under Clause 5 (7) and the pecuniary loss which may be suffered by anyone because of such freeing or extinction is not fully compensated for. I said on the Committee stage that, in such circumstances, the Board would do that which might appear to be right and proper where the dominant owner had suffered real loss, .although the value of the interest would not be affected. This Amendment makes express provision to that end. Subsection (4) deals with the necessity of persons requiring compensation to make application for it. It may appear to be a work of supererogation, but it is obviously desirable to avoid double claims, and it is necessary to have a time limit as in comparable provisions in the Coal Act of 1938.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I think that all that need be said from this side of the House is that we welcome this Amendment. But it may be as well to point out that the Amendment is being made as a result of what was argued from this side, in Committee, and that it represents a considerable recantation on the part of the Attorney-General. I think this is another case in which he would be displaying a rather better spirit if he were to come here with a little more humility and a little more gratitude

Captain Crookshank

"Recantation," is putting it mildly. The Minister is doing something which upstairs he said was wrong. He specifically said that this was not a matter which was in his view at all proper to deal with by way of regulation. Lo and behold, this Subsection states that regulations shall be made for the purpose. I do not know whether he is prepared to tell us why he has changed his mind. The Minister said that it was most inappropriate on 12th March and it seems quite reasonable to ask what has happened to make it appropriate on 15th May. Can the Minister give an assurance—I do not suppose he can put it in the Bill —in regard to conditional on due and punctual compliance " That is to say, that when claims have to be made adequate time will be given because there may be claimants who are not immediately available. As the compensation units are going to be determined by the Minister the owner may not necessarily know in what category he falls; therefore he should be given reasonable time. I hope that that point will be borne in mind.

The Attorney-General

Certainly, we shall take that point carefully into consideration. For the rest, I am glad to endorse the pat on the back which hon. Members opposite have been so willing to give themselves on this matter.

Amendment agreed to.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 20, line 33, to leave out Subsection (3).

This is obviously a desirable Amendment. It will enable revenue payments in respect of interim income to be paid in respect of transferred interests of a colliery company, without regard to the manner in which those interests may eventually be arranged, as a single compensation unit or several compensation units.

Captain Crookshank

Does that mean that the present owners will have no difficulty in getting their interim income while these other arrangements are being made, or will it be held up until these other arrangements are made?

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 22.—(Restrictions on disposal of stock issued for compensation of colliery companies.)

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

I beg to move, in page 23. line 41, to leave out Clause 22.

This Clause deals with restrictions on disposal of stock issued for compensation of colliery companies, and during our proceedings on Monday on recommittal, we agreed to a new Clause to take the place of this one. I need not argue the matter here, particularly as the House will be delighted to see that the Big Four have made it up, and we have here my right hon. Friend the Minister, the right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) and the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) joining together in complete and amicable agreement that this Clause should be deleted.

Captain Crookshank

I do not know anything about the Big Four, but it is quite obvious that this Clause has to go because it would be nonsense to have two Clauses in slightly different form dealing with the same topic in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman need not think that the reasons that moved us to support the omission of this Clause were necessarily the same as his in the beginning. We put down the Amendment to make a protest against the inalienability provisions. This Clause has gone, but I am afraid similar provisions still remain in the new Clause to which we are unable to move Amendments at this stage. However, if the hon. Gentleman finds any satisfaction from the fact that we agree to this extent on this very minor point, he is quite entitled to do so.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 23.—(Adjustment: as between classes of debenture and share holders of colliery companies.)

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 25, line 16, to leave out "a colliery concern," and insert "an owner of transferred interests."

The object of this Clause is to secure that holders of debentures and preference shares in companies whose securities have risen above par because they have been doing well, are not to be penalised by repayment at par in a liquidation resulting from transfer of the companies' assets. Provision is to be made for agreement between the company's shareholders to give effect to a valuation of the debentures or preference shares which has regard to the relative expectations of income yield on the basis that the company would have continued as a going concern, and would have been unaffected by the nationalisation proposals. Failing agreement, a tribunal is enabled to propose a scheme. It is felt that the benefit of Clause 23 should be extended to all companies affected by nationalisation, that is to say, subsidiaries as well as colliery concerns. So this Amendment is proposed, to widen the scope of the Clause, and make it apply to any company which is the owner of a transferred interest. To that extent this is a drafting Amendment; it merely extends the provisions of the existing Clause.

6.3o p.m.

Major Roberts

Would it be fair to say that this is another of those cases in which the coke oven industry was omitted during drafting, and was tacked on at the end of the Bill? In Clause 23, as it was originally drafted, the draftsman had obviously in mind merely colliery undertakings. On looking at the matter again, the Government realised once more that the great coke oven industry of this country was missing from their calculations. I am glad to see that they have now put it in.

Amendment agreed to.

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 25, line 29, to leave out from "by," to the first "of," in line 3o, and to insert: such majorities as may be prescribed, on the basis of Subsection (2) of Section one hundred and fifty-three of the Companies Act, 1929.

Perhaps I might also refer to the next Amendment in this connection. These Amendments deal with schemes for adjustments of interests intended to protect debenture holders and preference shareholders in the way I indicated in connection with the previous Amendment. Originally, the scheme was to take effect on a 90 per cent. majority vote, but the Companies Act, 1929, contains a provision whereby arrangements binding on all creditors, or members of a class of creditors or members of a company, may be carried by a majority of 75 per cent., in value, of the interests concerned. We thought it right to bring the provisions of the present Bill into line with those which apply to the general company law. At the same time, as hon. Members will notice, any aggrieved debenture holder or shareholder has a right of appeal to a tribunal.

Colonel Clarke

The Minister may remember that when this matter was being discussed upstairs I asked him whether 90 per cent. of the majority concerned was a majority in numbers or value in what they held. The right hon. Gentleman replied: I am afraid I am not prepared to answer that offhand, but I should assume that as the proviso relates to the original proviso, namely the provision of regulations, that this would have to be considered in relation to the regulations which are promoted. I said I was not altogether clear as to what that meant, and the Minister replied that he was anxious to ensure that effective regulations were provided. He added : It may be that the matter will require to be looked at, but we are going to have discussions on this question with persons who are able to judge. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) then asked "What persons?" The right hon. Gentleman replied: Financial and commercial interests. Not pure and simple politicians like ourselves…"—[OOFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 26th March, 1946; c. 624-5.] I expect that the matter is now cleared up by the reference to the Companies Act, but I wonder whether the Minister could give me an answer, as he concluded by saying that it might be that something could be said on the subject on Report stage.

Mr. Shinwell

All I can say in reply is that we have had discussions with these financial and commercial interests to which reference was made in the Committee, and as a result we have provided this Amendment, which we think meets the point.

Colonel Clarke

They have been so pure and simple that they have been unable to provide an answer. Is it a matter of a majority in relation to numbers or in relation to the value of what is held?

The Attorney-General

I mentioned that expressly in moving the Amendment—it is in value.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 25, line 31, after "concerned," insert: and either not objected to by any member of a class concerned or, if so objected to, approved by a tribunal to be established under the regulations."—[The Attorney-General.]

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 25, line 32, to leave out from " by,' to the end of line 33, and to insert: the tribunal to be so established on application is may be prescribed of the company or of members of a class concerned. This is a drafting Amendment. It is intended to give effect to an undertaking given by the Minister in Committee that the procedure to be incorporated in the regulations should be made quite clear, that is, that the debenture holder or preference shareholder would be able to apply to the tribunal.

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 27.—(Reserve fund of the Board.)

Mr. Shinwell

I beg to move, in page 26, line 39, to leave out "purposes ", and to insert "of the purposes of the Board".

During the Committee proceedings the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) raised the question of whether the reserve fund raised as a result of the transactions of the Board could be devoted to any purpose outside the scope of the Bill and outwith the functions and duties of the Board itself. There was some dubiety on the point, and I promised to look into the matter. As a result, we have prepared this Amendment. In the course of the Committee proceedings, I said that it was not the intention of the Government that the reserve fund should be used for any purpose outside the scope of the Bill, that that was clear, but that it might be that the words in the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport were not altogether appropriate. I gave the assurance which I have indicated, and I hope that this Amendment meets the point which he raised.

Sir A. Gridley

I wish to thank the Minister for meeting us on this point in the way he has done.

Captain Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman has met us very satisfactorily, because the result now is that the reserve fund will be a proper reserve fund, and, so far as it is humanly possible to effect it by legislation, not subject to raids by other Ministers like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when they are in need of funds. That is the object we had in view, and I do not know why the Minister did not accept the proposal at an earlier stage, as it strengthens his position. I am glad that he has now seen the light and has inserted this Amendment. We offer no opposition to it.

Amendment agreed to. CLAUSE 28 —(Application of surplus revenues of the Board.)

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I beg to move, in page 26, line 42, to leave out from " their," to " shall," in page 27, line 2, and to insert: outgoings for that year properly chargeable to revenue account (including, without prejudice to the generality of that expression, provisions in respect of their obligations under the two last preceding sections)

This Amendment is consequential on an Amendment moved last night to Clause I, page 2, line 37, which perhaps the House will remember links up Clauses 26 and 27 with Clause I (4, b). It deals with the obligations and policy of the Board.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I beg to move, in page 27, line 2, to leave out from "applied," to "as," and to insert: for such of the purposes of the Board.

This Amendment is really a corollary to one moved by my right hon. Friend to Clause 27, page 26, line 39. As Clause 28 stands, the surplus revenues of the Board could be applied at the direction of the Minister to almost any purpose he liked whether or not they were within the purview of the Board's obligations and duties. This slight Amendment makes it crystal clear, in our view, that the surplus revenues must be applied to the purposes within the scope of the Board. It is a commonsense provision.

Captain Crookshank

I quite agree. We are at one in this. We were very anxious that words of this character should be put in. The only thing I am rather intrigued about is why the Minister is leaving out the words "by the Board." This will read: …shall be applied for such of the purposes of the Board as the Minister, with the approval of the Treasury, may direct. That leaves in the air the question of who is to do the applying. I do not quite see who is to do it if it is said it is not to be "applied by the Board."

Mr. Glenvil Hall

If I might, by leave, speak again, I would explain that we are putting in "for such of the purposes of the Board" and therefore it is necessary to delete "by the Board in such manner."

Captain Crookshank

If it is in Order to cross-examine—I hope with dignity—I would suggest that " by the Board " is still necessary because this could perfectly well read: …shall be applied by the Board for such of the purposes of the Board as the Minister, with the approval of the Treasury, may direct. It is then made clear who is to do the applying. If we take out " by the Board " it is left in the air.

Mr. Shinwell

Surely, it is obvious if there is to be any application at all it must be by the Board who are primarily responsible.

Captain Crookshank

If that is so why did the right hon. Gentleman have it before?

Amendment agreed to.

CLAUSE 29.—(Board's accounts and audit thereof.)

6.45 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 27, line 15, to leave out Subsection (4), and to insert:

"(4) The Minister shall transmit every such statement and report to the Comptroller and Auditor-General who shall on behalf of the House of Commons examine and certify the statement of accounts and lay copies thereof, together with his report thereon, before each House of Parliament not later than one year from the end of each financial year of the Board. The Comptroller and Auditor-General in his examination shall have regard to the audit carried out by the auditors appointed under Subsection (2) of this Section."

This is a very important matter. It deals directly with the question of how the Comptroller and Auditor-General on behalf of Parliament can be fitted into the picture of the finances of this new national undertaking. The arrangements as set out in the Clause are not, in our view, at all satisfactory. Under the Bill now, what the Board has to do is to keep proper accounts. As a general proposition everybody, of course, would agree that the Board should keep proper accounts, but the words " proper accounts " are somewhat vague. It seems to us necessary that there should be some audit on behalf of Parliament. Not only are the Board told that they must keep proper accounts, but that they must prepare statements of account for each financier year in such form as the Minister may direct. There, again, we took exception to that because the directions in a matter of this kind would not come before Parlia- ment. Had it been a form of account which was prescribed by the Minister, then it would be, under the definition Clause, available to Parliament. That is not to be. The Clause goes on to say that the accounts shall be audited by auditors appointed by the Minister. The Minister is in this picture the whole time. He directs the form of accounts, he appoints the auditors and then, as soon as the accounts have been audited, the Board sends a copy of the statements of account together with the copy of the auditor's statement to the Minister. Thereafter, the Clause says: The Minister shall lay a copy of every such statement and report before each House of Parliament. Then the matter is left in the air. It seems to us quite clear that the precedent which is established in many other fields should be followed. As the Amendment says, the Minister should transmit every such statement—that is, of the accounts and of the report of the auditors whom he has appointed—direct to the Comptroller and Auditor-General who, on behalf of the House of Commons, shall examine and certify the statements of accounts and lay copies, together with his report, if there is anything to which he feels the attention of this House should be called, before the House not later than one year from the end of each financial year of the Board. It is phrased in that way in order to dismiss any suggestion that there would not be time to get the reports through because they were complicated and the pressure on the Comptroller and Auditor-General was great. One year seems to be a reasonable period of time.

The Amendment also provides that the examination of the Comptroller and Auditor-General should have regard to the audits which the auditors appointed by the Minister will have already done. That is not anything strange or revolutionary, because, in point of fact, there are already one or two—one cannot say comparable cases, because nothing is comparable to the size and complexity of this industry which is going to be taken over by the State—but one or two instances of this kind of procedure in the method in which the accounts of the State management district are done. They are, separately audited, and go to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and, if necessary, are subjected to the review of the Public Accounts Committee. I remember that, when I was a member of that body, almost every year we went into the State management district account, and I imagine that, during the war, some such system was adopted in the various raw materials controls of the Ministry of Supply. Perhaps they are getting a little more analogous to the future State monopoly of coal.

When we discussed this question upstairs, the Financial Secretary took the view that this procedure would mean, to some extent, duplicating the work of reputable auditors. I do not think that is so, because the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who, as hon. Members well know, is a servant of this House and not of the Executive and has his salary on the Consolidated Fund, can as an independent person look into the national accounts on our behalf, on the theory—I am afraid that, in many cases, in these days, it is only a theory—that this House looks after the interests of the taxpayer and has to see that the moneys voted are spent in accordance with the laws which we pass appropriating these sums for particular purposes. The Comptroller and Auditor-General carries on an audit in various Departments currently, and certainly would not dream of duplicating auditing work done by a reputable firm of auditors, but, of course, he would look at the accounts of this industry, just as he does those of the State management district, from the point of view of this House, because he is our servant. One knows perfectly well that, in considering accounts, people look at them from different angles according to their interest in the accounts, and certain hon. Gentlemen opposite look at them from one aspect, trying to pick holes in them, while other hon. Gentlemen on this side look at another aspect of national accounts and try to pick holes in them from a different point of view. So it is with the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who would not be duplicating other work but would be seeing that- everything was drawn up on the lines which this House would think right. We all place extreme confidence in the activities of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and his staff.

There was not a long discussion on this point upstairs, and the Financial Secre- tary gladly promised that he would consult the Comptroller and Auditor-General on this very matter, and that he would look at it all again. That being so, I should like to know, if I can be told, what the result of that consultation was, and, if it is not a breach of confidence, what kind of views the Comptroller and Auditor-General placed before the Minister for his consideration, acting on behalf of us all. This has nothing to do with party or politics, but it is merely in order to make sure that the accounts of this undertaking are such that our servants consider right, proper and well drawn.

The other reason is that we shall not, under the Clause as drafted, have any say with regard to the form of the accounts. We feel, for example, as has been said during the proceedings on this Bill, I think last night, when we were on this topic, that there would have to be some form of regional devolution of the organisation. first, perhaps. in districts and then groups, or even individual collieries, and that, broadly speaking, in the national interests, it would be wise in order to know how these different parts of the whole are working, and whether, for example, one district or group had to be permanently subsidised by all the rest, or whether all were making a commercial profit and so on. To ascertain that sort of thing, it would be necessary to be quite sure that the accounts are drawn up in a way which will reflect that sort of result. The Minister takes power of directing the form of the accounts, but he does not give the House any opportunities of expressing the view. I think that is where the Comptroller and Auditor-General, with the advice of the Public Accounts Committee, a non-party body if ever there was one in this House, might be a useful guide.

It must be within the knowledge of hon. Members that the contract procedure of the Government has, for years and years, been an almost permanent topic of consideration by the Public Accounts Committee, and that, from time to time, they have made suggestions, which have been accepted, as to how the big contracts, such as Admiralty contracts and the like, should be drawn up, and, in that way, supply the information which this House, in my submission, is entitled to have. I think this is one of the Amendments which the Minister might accept, though he has not put his name to it, and, therefore, in the words of the Attorney-General, it is not a " Big Four " Amendment—

The Attorney-General

indicated dissent.

Captain Crookshank

No? Then it was a gem from elsewhere. I hope the right hon. Gentleman is going to give us satisfaction. I do not think he would live to regret it, because, after all, I am satisfied with very little about this Bill, but I am satisfied about one thing—

Mr. Shinwell

The concessions the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has got?

Captain Crookshank

We are trying to trace a little blade of grass into the large canvas of a distant scene, but that does not make the picture at all, though it improves one corner of it. The Minister wants to make this a good show. I do not think he will succeed, but that is a matter of opinion. I think that, in all his speeches, the right hon. Gentleman has indicated that—I do not say he will stake his reputation on it, because his reputation, such as it is, will survive in one form or another irrespective of this—but he does want to make this Bill, within its limitations and its wrong-headedness and muddle, a good show, according to his own light. One of the fundamentals in making a good show is that one should have everything above board and completely clear regarding the finances of the undertaking, and one way to achieve that is to have a proper system of accounts. One of the ways of securing that there is a proper system of accounts, when it is something to do with Parliament and with which Parliament is intimately connected, is to see that our servants have a niche in the whole structure, and it is in order to put the Comptroller and Auditor-General there that we are moving this Amendment. I do not see why the Minister should not accept it, and I very much hope that he will.

7.o p.m.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

It is true that this Amendment was moved upstairs in similar terms. There is no doubt that it is a matter of importance. The accounting arrangements and the extent to which the Comptroller and Auditor-General should intervene may vary from one nationalised industry to another, but this is the first time these questions have been discussed in the House. This occasion is, therefore, of importance.

The effect of this Amendment would be to require a statement of accounts to be sent to the Comptroller and Auditor-General who would examine and certify it and report on it to Parliament, having regard to the professional audit already carried out. It follows that the Comptroller and Auditor General, although he would not do the first audit, would have complete access to the books and if so minded would be able to carry out a second audit of his own. That is what the Amendment means and what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had in mind when he moved it. A good deal has been said about other State activities where the Comptroller and Auditor-General does, in fact, audit the accounts, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned one or two of them. For example, he mentioned the Raw Materials Control and the State Management Districts, very often still known as the " Carlisle Experiment "

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

It is not true to say that the Comptroller and Auditor-General audits either the State Management Districts accounts or the Raw Materials Control accounts; they are audited by professional auditors. He does, however, examine the accounts and certify them before they come before the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I am sorry if I did not make the matter clear. What I meant was that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to apply to the accounts of the Coal Board, the same system which applies to the Raw Materials Control and the State Management Districts. In both instances there are factors which do not obtain in the new Coal Board. There we have control by departments and finance by day to day moneys. Therefore, those who control and run them are answerable to Parliament in a way in which the new Coal Board will not be. In those circumstances, the analogy is not a complete one. In fact, I would not admit that there was any analogy at all. It is true that, under certain Clauses of the Bill, the new Coal Board will have moneys advanced to it by the State as working capital, but, nevertheless, it will not be dealing with State money provided by day to day advances, as are the two organisations which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned.

He asked me whether, as promised, we had approached the Comptroller and Auditor-General in this matter. In accordance with the undertaking given, we have had consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor-General, but the House will not expect me, least of all the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, to indicate here what transpired at that interview. Without in any way indicating what the Comptroller and Auditor-General said, I can say that, so far as the Treasury and my right hon. Friend the Minister are concerned, we are more than ever convinced that the method laid down in the Bill is the one which should be followed.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said it was essential that the Public Accounts Committee should be able to look at these accounts. Under the terms of the Bill they will certainly be able to do that, just as they are able—and this, at any rate, is a fairer analogy than the one he mentioned—to look at the accounts of B.O.A.C. and the British Sugar Corporation. These accounts, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows—he was for some years a member of the Public Accounts Committee—are presented by the Comptroller and Auditor-General to the Accounts Committee though he does not audit them and has no more right, than he will have under this Bill when it becomes an Act, to go intimately into the accounts of those particular corporations. We think that that is a safer and better analogy to follow than the one which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated to us. Under this Bill and in the very Clause which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman now wants to delete. The Minister shall lay a copy of every such statement and report before each House of Parliament.

If this Board succeeds, as we are confident it will, the House of Commons will get all the information it wants. If, however, anything goes wrong or if there is any general desire that something more should be done, the Minister has complete power to call for accounts in greater detail or even to see to it, if he is so minded, that the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall have access to the books of the Board. We think that, as that power, permissive though it is, is contained in the Bill itself, it should be sufficient. If the House insist that the Minister should give the Comptroller and Auditor-General access, he will be quite able to do so under the powers vested in him in the Bill.

I do not want to labour this matter, but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman also indicated that he felt it was only by the Comptroller and Auditor-General having a greater power than he will have under the Bill, that the Public Accounts Committee will get the accounts in anything like the shape they should and which they are used to. There was an Amendment which was not called, where the suggestion was that the accounts should be prescribed by regulation. We believe, and I think it is the commonsense view to take, that the Board itself will have the accounts audited, as laid down in the Bill, by proper professional accountants and auditors and in such a way that they will be intelligible to those who see them. After all, the Board will have competent people dealing with them, and it has every desire to keep the accounts in a proper way. It will be impossible for us to prescribe the form in which the accounts should be kept; things move on and methods change from time to time, and it would be an unfair and unreasonable thing to lay down now regulations of this kind. In addition, the Cohen Committee have gone into this matter very closely. We are of opinion that it would be wrong to change the law in order to ensure that accounts should always be kept in any particular way and prescribed by regulation. I think I have answered the points raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.

We cannot accept this Amendment. We do not think it would be right to give such a power to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. This Board is different from the organisations which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has. mentioned. The accounts will be properly kept, the Minister will have all the power that he wants, and, through him, Parliament will have all the power it wants to call for any accounts at any time should that be necessary. That being so, we do not think the Comptroller and Auditor-General should be brought into the matter.

Sir A. Gridley

I only want to say a few words on this very important subject. I am dissatisfied with the explanation given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. We are now going to deal with a huge undertaking in which hundreds of millions of pounds belonging to the taxpayers are to be invested. It is true that under this Clause which we are seeking to amend, propel accounts have to be kept, but what are " proper accounts "? I do not suggest that there will be improper accounts kept, but " proper " is capable of a very wide interpretation. In the case of the electricity undertakings, the accounts are prescribed and they are subjected to two audits, by the companies' own auditors and by auditors appointed by the Electricity Commission. Therefore, a double audit is by no means new where undertakings are carried on under an Act of Parliament. What we are anxious about here is to see that the accounts are really informative. After all, there has been a Cohen Report. Its provisions have not yet been dealt with by a Bill brought before this House, but we understand that in due time that will be done. Notwithstanding the fact that that Report has not yet been interpreted into any Statute, the fact is that every well conducted industrial undertaking is presenting its accounts, without compulsion but as advised and recommended by the authors of the Cohen Report. They are giving the shareholders the full information which they consider desirable. Having regard to that fact, we feel—and, I think, quite rightly—that in this case the Government, who are the owners of a gigantic undertaking, should keep the country and Parliament fully informed of all its activities. We can only judge of how this great experiment, as the Minister has frequently described it, is progressing, and whether it is succeeding or failing, if we have the fullest information brought before Parliament.

Parliament ought to have this information. It is all very well for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to say that if Parliament is not getting sufficient information, it can demand it, but we all know the difficulties there are in persuading a Minister, supported by a huge majority, to give us the additional information we want. There may be reasons, which may seem good to the Minister, why he should not disclose certain facts and figures which, on the other hand, the Opposition and the country may consider it very necessary to divulge. Therefore, I think the Financial Secretary's explanation and reasons for rebutting this Amendment are not at all substantial. I hope he will think about this matter again and see whether between now and the next stage, he can meet us.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question? He said that the presentation of the accounts would determine the success of the scheme. If people get the coal and if the miners get a five-day week and the miners' charter, would he not consider it a success even if he did not have the detailed accounts?

Sir A. Gridley

Not if it involved the country in losing many million pounds per annum.

Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)

I support this Amendment because this is one of the most important Clauses in the Bill in that it would show the country whether or not this great adventure is a success. The Minister himself called it a great adventure, and said it would be judged by results. If the statement asked for in this Amendment contains the right and proper information, such as whether one side of the industry—byproducts, for example—is showing a profit or whether coal winning is showing a profit, the public whose money is involved in this great adventure will be able to see whether one side of the industry is bolstering up the other. They will be able to see whether coal winning, as coal winning, is proving a success, as the Minister and hon. Members opposite hope it will, or whether another side of the industry is being used to bolster it up. That is very important, and this statement would disclose that information. If the Comptroller and Auditor-General does not report on those particular matters, how can a layman understand what is really happening in this industry?

No side of this scheme should be cloaked up. It may be said that it is not in the public interest that the exact results should be shown, and that we are going through difficult times, but I believe the public who are paying for this venture want to know what is happening year by year, and whether it is a success or a failure. For that reason, this Amendment is important. The Financial Secretary mentioned the Cohen Report, and he will remember that it was also mentioned upstairs. If he gives full weight to the Cohen Report he will agree that the fullest possible information should be given to the public who are the shareholders in this undertaking, because the Cohen Report suggests that more information, particularly with regard to subsidiaries, should be given. If he follows the advice of the Cohen Report, he will see that the country gets all the information it desires in the statement and report. There is one very important side to this matter, in that the statement and the report should be simple and plain so that the layman can understand what they are all about, and follow the workings of the industry and the activities of the Coal Board.

Mr. Speaker

That is not the point of the Amendment. The point of the Amendment, surely, is whether the statement and report should be laid before the House of Commons.

Mr. Jennings

I think, perhaps, I may have gone a little over the traces, and I apologise. I had hoped to raise the matter on an earlier Amendment, which has not been called. Finally I would like to say this. The report and the statement audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, to which you referred, Mr. Speaker, should be in such a form that the country will know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Mr. Gallacher

That will be a bad day for the Tories.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)

I think I am correct in saying this is the last chance the House will have, at this stage of the Bill, of talking about accounts. All previous Amendments on this subject which we have put forward have been turned down. I cannot help feeling that the Minister would be wise to accept this one. There are bound to be criticisms of any monopoly, and there are bound to be criticisms of the Coal Board. Those criticisms will come, not only from this side of the House but from all over the place, from people who do not get the coal they want and so on. There are bound to be suspicions, as hon. Members opposite know, about any monopoly. Surely, the way to make those suspicions worse is to have everything in the Minister's pocket. At present everything is "as he sees fit." There is no outside body which can come in. I feel that the Comptroller and Auditor-General is probably the best independent person who could be brought in. If he was brought in there would he far greater confidence in regard to the Board and its actions. It is not enough that justice should. be done; justice must appear to be done. It is not enough for the right hon. Gentleman to be, as I have no doubt he is, honest; he must also appear to be honest. That is the real point in bringing this forward.

What I cannot understand are the reasons for rejecting the Amendment. The Financial Secretary gave several reasons, all of which I am bound to say I thought rather curious. The first reason he gave was that we were not really dealing with State money from day to day. What on earth he meant by that I do not know. This is the largest sum of State money we have ever been dealing with in anything analogous to this. Therefore, I should have thought that was the strongest possible reason for doing what is suggested. The Financial Secretary then gave the reason that he had had certain conversations with the Comptroller and Auditor-General himself. As he would not disclose what those conversations were, it is very difficult to give great weight to that particular consideration. He then said that, after all, the Comptroller and Auditor-General only looked at the British Sugar Corporation accounts. The British Sugar Corporation is not a very large company. It is also, I think I am correct in saying, mostly financed by private funds and is not a State monopoly at all. Therefore, I say that is not a very good analogy. The Financial Secretary then went on to say that if the Board were successful we should get all that information. What will happen if it is not successful I do not quite know. The last argument he adduced was, I think, the old one which the learned Solicitor-General always adduces, only he uses the word "flexible." I cannot honestly say those reasons seem to me to add up to anything at all. I feel that if the country is to have confidence in this Board the Minister would be very wise indeed to accept this Amendment

Mr. Blyton: (Houghton-le-Spring)

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not accept this Amendment. For many years in this industry we have argued that the profits of the ancillary industries should be brought into the mining industry at least to ensure the men employed in the industry a decent standard of existence. Many of the mines are in an inefficient state, as those who have worked in them know. The Minister will find that, until he gets his long-term policy and his haulage loads, he may show a loss if the accounts are separated—[Interruption.] Let me finish. He may show a loss on the mining side. That went on for years because the mineowners themselves in their ascertainments have had losses at the pithead while making great profits on their ancillary undertakings.

Colonel Clarke

If that is so what have the joint auditors been doing? There are joint auditors and they cannot have been doing their job if that happened?

Mr. Blyton

I will answer that. In the ascertainment of the mining industry, the accountants always gave us the figures and said they could not divulge what was given in the books. Further than that, ancillary production from the coal never came to the auditors in determining the miners' wages. Therefore, I put it to the Minister that if these accounts are separated, what will happen is that hon. Members on the Opposition benches will argue the failure of the nationalisation of the mines on the pithead price.

Mr. Speaker

On this Amendment we cannot go into discussions on the profits of ancillary undertakings. That is quite outside the Amendment. This Amendment merely deals with whether the accounts should be put before the House of Commons or not. To go outside that, is to go beyond the scope of the Amendment, and may add about three hours to our Sitting tonight.

Mr. Blyton

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. As far as I am concerned, I only want to put across the Floor of the House exactly what I think. I beg the Minister not to be led up the garden path by the suggestion that this is an innocent Amendment. I am confident that when we get a report in which the industry is treated as a whole, we shall be able to justify the view that this Amendment is worthy only of rejection.

Mr. Peake

I intervene in this Debate in my capacity as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr. Gallacher

And a coalowner.

Mr. Peake

The hon. Member thinks he may have scored a point. I have had nothing whatever to do with the coal industry for the past seven years. I speak in this House today as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. The effective question before the House is: Does the House desire the Public Accounts Committee to be in a position effectively to discharge the functions of examining the accounts of this great new corporation? I was very surprised at the arguments adduced by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has himself been a member of the Public Accounts Committee for a number of years. His experience there must have taught him that the Public Accounts Committee is quite helpless in examining accounts of Government trading corporations unless it has the guidance, help and advice of an expert officer, the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who can go behind the published accounts and examine accounting records. Government Departments trade in a large number of ways; sometimes they make a profit and sometimes they make a loss. The only Government trading Departments which are consistently profitable are those engaged in "sinful " occupations; that is to say, either the selling of liquor in the State management districts, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, or in the breeding of race horses at the national stud.

Whatever Government trading activities are conducted, all Government Departments are naturally anxious to show as little as possible on their published accounts. They have to think of questions of commercial competition, possibly foreign competition, and Government trading accounts are always drawn up to give the public as little information as possible. It follows, therefore, that if the House of Commons is to exercise any effective supervision at all the Public Accounts Committee must have the guidance of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The Comptroller and Auditor-General must be empowered by the House of Commons to go behind the published accounts and to inquire into and see accounting records. The hon. Gentleman who replied for the Government produced I thought some very ineffective arguments. He said there was no analogy between this case and that of the State Management Districts, that is to say, the Government brewery and the public house undertaking in the Carlisle area. There is, in fact, an exact analogy. The business in that area was bought by State money. It is perfectly true, of course, that it trades from day to day upon its own profits and upon its own assets, but it was bought by Government money and from that day to this the Comptroller and Auditor-General has had access to the accounts, has in fact audited them and certified them before they come before the Public Accounts Committee.

7.30 p.m.

There are other cases. There was that enormous trading corporation known as the U.K.C.C.—the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation—which traded in hundreds of millions of pounds during the war. Their accounts were audited by ordinary commercial auditors, but the Comptroller and Auditor-General was given the right to go behind the published accounts of the Corporation, and to examine and report upon the accounts for the benefit of the Public Accounts Committee and of the House of Commons. There is the case of the British Phosphates Commission, another Government trading concern, where the Comptroller and Auditor-General again has the power and the duty of examining and certifying the accounts. Unless the Comptroller and Auditor-General is permitted to act in this matter on behalf of the House of Commons, there can be no effective examination whatever of the accounts of this great trading concern.

I am quite sure that hon. Members opposite as well as on this side want to see and know what are the true financial results of this great experiment. I am quite sure that they do not wish things to be hidden away. Now in the case of of coal mining—I will give this one to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher)—it is not very difficult to hide things away. There is a very important question, in keeping colliery accounts, about depreciation. Some people think that the proper depreciation should be at the rate of 2d. a ton, while other people maintain that it should be at is. a ton. It is vitally important, if the proper results of this great experiment are to be examined, that somebody should know what is the rate of depreciation upon which the Board has settled. I am quite sure that it will not be shown on the face of the accounts; I am equally sure that it is vitally important that the Public Accounts Committee should be able to inquire into a matter of that kind. I, therefore, say that this is a House of Commons matter. If the House wishes to exercise, through .the Public Accounts Committee, any effective control at all over the accounts of this great undertaking, it will insist upon the Comptroller and Auditor-General being able to go behind the published accounts in the way suggested in the Amendment.

I am not at all surprised that the Minister resists this Amendment. Ministers naturally regard the Public Accounts Committee, as I have no doubt they regard many other Select Committees of this House, as a nuisance. I am quite sure that they regard a great many of the activities of hon. Members of this House as a nuisance, but if the House of Commons as a whole wishes, through the Public Accounts Committee, to exercise any effective control whatever over these accounts, experience proves beyond all manner of doubt that the only way in which they can do it is by giving the Public Accounts Committee the services of the independent officer of the House of Commons, and by giving him power to go behind the published records and thereby guide the Public Accounts Committee in the discharge of the functions and duties which they have to carry out under Standing Orders.

Mr. Shinwell

Let me make it abundantly clear at the outset that as regards this question of accounting the Government are anxious to ensure that the closest possible inspection should be undertaken of the accounts of this great coal corporation. Hon. Members who were associated with the Committee upstairs will recall that frequently I gave assurances—from which I will not withdraw—that we should consider every means of effecting the closest examination of the financial intromissions of the National Coal Board. I am just as anxious as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to see that that is effected. After all, it is of the highest importance that the accounts of this important corporation should be brought into the public eye, and, indeed, widely publicised, whether for good or ill. In spite of what has been said by hon. Members opposite, I believe, as do my hon. Friends on these benches, it will be for good. What I would direct the attention of the House to is the line of demarcation between the normal trading accounts of the National Coal Board and the Exchequer intromissions, which in my view are in a quite different category.

First, I would say to the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) that his argument seemed to be based on a complete misunderstanding of the principle embodied in this Bill. We are not proposing to create another great State trading Department. This is to be an industrial corporation, untrammelled and unfettered, so far as is practicable, apart from general Ministerial directions, and with complete freedom to pursue its own line as regards the ordinary transactions for which it is responsible.

Mr. Peake

But this is an exact analogy to the cases I quoted of the State Management Districts, the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation, and a good many other bodies of that description.

Mr. Shinwell

I do not wish to embark on a long dissertation on the subject of Government trading corporations. We have had many discussions in the House in the past on these matters and I will not accept the view that this is a strict analogy. All along hon. Members on the other side have argued—they have argued with substance, and have been pushing at an open door—that there should be little State interference, once the National Coal Board has been created, with the everyday administration of that corporation. It is an industrial corporation responsible for carrying out the functions and duties embodied in the Bill. That is the argument which we have heard so frequently in the course of our deliberations. I would draw the attention of hon. Members to Clause I (4, b), upon which there has been considerable argument in the course of our discussions. It provides: That the revenues of the Board shall not be less than sufficient for meeting all their outgoings properly chargeable to revenue account on an average of good and bad years. What does that imply? That, as regards its financial transactions, it should meet all its liabilities, it should pay its way, wash its face—use what terms you like. That is to be the position.

Mr. Peake

It is pious advice.

Mr. Shinwell

Even pious advice has its advantages. This is much more than piety, for reasons that I will show in a moment if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will be patient. I am anxious to enlighten hon. Members on this matter, as far as I can; at any rate, on what is in my mind on this important topic. I do not complain for a moment that this point has been raised by hon. Members. It is highly important. What I have just said about Clause I (4, b) is wedded to Clause 29. Here we are dealing with the ordinary commercial transactions of the Board. Clause 29 provides for the keeping of proper accounts. The hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) asked, it seemed to me facetiously, what was meant by "proper." The only answer that occurs to me is that it is the antithesis of "improper" I do not know if that is sufficient for our purpose. It is difficult to define these terms, for, if I mooted a precise definition it might be regarded as unsatisfactory. Clause 29 says: (I) The Board shall keep proper accounts and other records…and shall prepare in respect of each financial year of the Board a statement of accounts in such form as the Minister may direct. Hon. Members opposite may say—it seemed to me implied in what was argued by them—that the present Minister is not a competent person to direct the Board in this regard. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] But whether it happens to be myself or some other Member of this House, he will be under the constant vigilance of hon. Members, and if he should stray from the path of financial rectitude, we can depend upon it that hon. Members will correct him.

In Clause 29 (2) it is provided that: The accounts of the Board shall be audited by auditors to be appointed annually by the Minister. Again the Minister comes in; but the Minister dare not appoint auditors who are not fully accredited and competent to undertake the task. He is bound to appoint qualified auditors; presumably, well known. That appears to be satisfactory. In Subsection (3) it is stated: So soon as the accounts of the Board have been audited, they shall send a copy "— that is, the Board— of the statement of accounts referred to in subsection (I) of this section to the Minister together with a copy of any report made by the auditors "— qualified auditors— on that statement or on the accounts of the Board. That is quite fair and above board. No one can cavil at what appears in that Subsection. Finally, in Subsection (4) it is said: The Minister shall lay a copy of every such statement and report before each House of Parliament.

There I pause to direct attention to what is a very important consideration that bears on the point raised by the right hon. Member for North Leeds. As I understood him, the substance of his argument amounted to this: we must in some way ensure that the accounts shall be brought before the Public Accounts Committee—

Mr. Peake

Or the House of Commons.

7.45 P.m.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman says " or the House of Commons." But that is explicitly provided for: The Minister shall lay a copy of every such statement and report before each House of Parliament.

But immediately the Minister lays a report before Parliament it proceeds automatically to the Public Accounts Committee. The right hon. Gentleman agrees. So, the Public Accounts Committee come in at that stage, at the appropriate stage, and, therefore, there can be no dispute on that head. So much for the ordinary commercial transactions of this self-sufficient trading corporation, a normal trading business. As regards the Exchequer payments. Of course, the Board cannot proceed unless it is fortified by the provision of finance, for which the Exchequer is responsible. The industry has to be bought out, the assets have to be transferred, and the Board is to operate on the basis of the finance so provided. But as regards the Exchequer payments and repayments, all that is provided for. First, I direct the attention of hon. Members to Clause 26. If hon. Members will be, so good as to look at Clause 26 they will find in Subsection (3) the provision : The Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a statement of any payments due from the Board under this section which are not duly paid to him as required thereunder. That bears on the subject of possible default. If the Board should not meet its Exchequer liabilities, then a report must be made by the Minister to the House, and that is debated. Finally, in Clause 33, as regards the second category of the Exchequer accounts, if I may so describe them, provision is made for the emergence of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Subsection (2) of that Clause says: Any account prepared under this section shall, on or before the thirtieth day of November next following the expiration of the financial year in question, be transmitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General. who shall examine and certify the account and lay copies thereof, together with his report thereon, before each House of Parliament. Having regard to these considerations and to the very intricate and comprehensive machinery that has been created for this important matter of accounting, I think the House should be satisfied.

I have only to say one other thing. So far, our Debate today has proceeded most amiably, and it is far from my desire to make any suggestion which would introduce any acerbity into the atmosphere. But I am bound to say that it appears to me that hon. Members are frightfully suspicious of the proposed National Coal Board. After all, we do propose to appoint a Board of gentlemen who have great competence in business and industry, and, surely, it is not to be expected that they will seek to deprive the public of the financial information which, in the ordinary course of events, must be furnished. But if, in the ultimate, the Board did decide to withhold information, I imagine that the eagle eye of hon. Members would be focused on the transactions of the Board, and that there would be such a hullabaloo in this assembly as would induce the Board to take notice of what was happening and of what was being said; and that in consequence, the Board would either have to retire from the arena, or would have to account to the House and to the Minister responsible for their transactions. I am bound to say hon. Members have made a song and even a dance on this matter. It is important, I agree; but we have tried to meet them in every possible direction, and I hope they will be content with what I have said.

Mr. David Eccles (Chippenham)

I am sorry I am not at all contented by the right hon. Gentleman's reply. What is the good of splitting hairs about whether this is an industrial corporation or a State trading body? Then the Minister said that it was a " self-sufficient corporation." I have never heard that word used of a business which needed £150 million from the taxpayers. That is a curious start to self-sufficiency. But what the public want to know is whether this business is being conducted, year by year, on a basis that covers the costs, and whether its policy is to cover costs or not. They are not interested in the label we put around the neck of this thing. They are interested in how it works with their money.

Many of them want very much to see it made a success, and many of us think that it is vital for the future industrial structure of this country that we should know whether it is a success or not. I would point out to the Minister that some of the things which he said about mining accounts are not quite in line with general practice. The Minister said that we ought to take confidence in the fact that under Clause I (4, b) the Board has to see that the revenues— shall not be less than sufficient for meeting all their outgoings properly chargeable to revenue accounts on an average of good and bad years. It is precisely to find out whether that is done or not, that it would be a good thing for the Comptroller and Auditor-General to come in. In mining, it is almost impossible to know what is properly chargeable and what is not. I have been in mining for a good many years, and I have looked at the accounts of dozens of mines. It is a question that beats all accountants, as to how much of the costs of development are to be charged in the winning of coal in any one year. Suppose that the Minister opens up a new pit. It may cost £5 million to reach the point when he can lift the first ton of coal.

Mr. Shinwell

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member who is arguing so eloquently, but I would remind him that it is not the intention of the Minister to open up any pit; it is a matter for the National Coal Board—that is where misunderstanding arises.

Mr. Eccles

I agree that it is the National Coal Board which will open up a pit, but it will open it up with our money, which is part of the £150 million advanced from the Treasury. It is a matter of policy, not a question of being honest or dishonest, as to how much is charged to capital account. The National Coal Board will have to employ a great many different auditors. It cannot help it, in dealing with these 850 or more undertakings. How are we to have uniformity?

Mr. Speaker

I would point out to the hon. Member that we are debating whether the accounts should be submitted to the House of Commons.

Mr. Eccles

The reason why I desire these accounts to be submitted to the House of Commons after the Comptroller and Auditor-General has seen them, is because I believe it to be practically impossible to have uniformity of accounting in such an enormous undertaking, unless there is one person charged at some stage to overlook all the figures which come in. The Minister has said that these accounts go to the Public Accounts Committee, but I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), that unless the Committee has expert guidance at its elbow, it is unable to go behind the figures and know what they mean. The Minister will know that in nearly all mining accounts there is a large slab of figures on the right hand side of the balance sheet, which is the balance of capital expenditure to date. The House has no means of knowing whether the National Coal Board is paying its way over a period of one or two years, which is quite a short period in the life of mining, unless it has some expert, with the right to go behind the figures, who can say how this bulk of money is made up. I am sure that the public want to know how the Coal Board is going on, and I am sure that they will not know this unless we go to the greatest possible length in finding out what is behind the figures. The Minister has given us many quotations from different parts of the Bill, but in none of these snippets is there a place where the whole figures can be subjected to scrutiny. I hope that the Minister will think again and accept this Amendment.

Colonel Lancaster

I want to assure the Minister that many of us on these Benches and certainly no one who took part in the discussion on Committee E have any sort of suspicion of his good intentions in regard to accounts in general. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), when he said that the duties of the Public Accounts Committee were well-nigh impossible, unless they could rely on professional and technical advice from the Comptroller and Auditor-General in matters of this kind. Responsibility of individual Members, who know anything about coal mining, will not end when the mining industry is nationalised. We shall have to play our part in providing constructive criticism as time goes on, but unless we can be sure that we are seeing the results of this industry in a clear light, we shall not be able to add constructively to the discussions on this matter as it develops. An hon. Member who spoke a short time ago said that it was possible that, in the first instance, losses might be shown. I do not think that is unreasonable, but it would be very much to the interests of the Minister if we could see precisely how such a state of affairs had come about. It may be that the Board will be in a position, in which it will be desirable for a few years to develop at such a pace that their revenue account will come out on the wrong side. Everyone familiar with coal mining knows that the matter is conditioned by the degree of development which has been embarked upon at any given moment. It may be, under the direction of the Minister, that the Coal Board will embark on his great scheme of reorganisation, which inevitably will bring about what at first might appear to he an unsatisfactory balance-sheet.

Unless we can see the matter in its true perspective, I suggest that the Minister is running himself, or his successor, into an unreasonable amount of criticism from the House, whereas had we the figures very clearly in front of us, we might view them in quite another manner. Figures can be very confusing, and do not always mean the same thing. As an example, I would refer to a statement which the Minister made last night in regard to coal production. Very rightly, he took credit for the fact that in the first quarter of this year there had been an increase in the output per man employed, but the aggregate improvement as against the first quarter of last year was slightly less, and taking the comparable period of 1941, the last year of free enterprise, we have lost something like five million tons, with the same number of men employed, and with a lesser degree of mechanisation. I mention this to show that figures, without all the facts being shown, can be very confusing.

I think that in the period which we are envisaging, when the Coal Board is going to embark on this great experiment, with a great amount of technical reorganisation, nothing should be allowed to come between the House and the proper Committee, supported by the professional advice of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, which would prevent us from drawing intelligent conclusions and playing our part as Members of Parliament in discussion and criticism; and I hope that, in the course of time, we shall be able to congratulate the Minister on his undertaking.

8.0 p .m .

Mr. H. Macmillan

I think that the House is indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the very clear exposition which he has given of the situation as it is dealt with under the Bill. This has been a very agreeable day, and I hope that it will continue to be so. I am sure that he will allow me to say how very near we are to agreement on this matter, and how small is the thing for which we are asking. He very clearly told us that, as regards what is called the Exchequer Account, that the normal rule is being followed and would have been followed whether it was in the Bill or not, because it is the duty of the chief accounting officer of every Department to submit to the House of Commons, through the Public Accounts Committee, a statement of payments into or out of the Exchequer. I am satisfied with the procedure which is laid down, whereby payments made by the Minister to the Board or the receipts recovered from the Board by the Minister, are shown in the ordinary course of our age-long procedure. Of course, the duty of the Comptroller and Auditor-General to the Public Accounts Committee is rather limited, because all he has to certify is that certain sums of money have been paid out, and certain sums of money have been paid in. He has merely to ascertain that a proper account has been kept of what has been paid out, or what has been received by the Exchequer. It is not a scrutiny of the accounts to any greater degree than that.

The Minister told us, quite rightly, that there was something different in what one might call the trading account of the Board. He pointed out various references in the Bill under which the Board is directed to keep its accounts in a proper way. He referred to Clause I (4b), which is only saying what the policy of the Board shall be. It does not in itself ensure that they carry it out. The purpose of the Amendment is to see how far they carry it out. He also called attention to other Clauses of the Bill, which relate to what the Board shall do. He pointed out, with perfect fairness, that all the reports made by the Board to the Minister will ultimately be placed before the House of Commons, as laid down under the Bill. The only question we are anxious about is that, when they come before the House of Commons, they shall be presented in the most informative and useful way. As to the Exchequer Account, there is nothing to argue about.

As to the industrial trading accounts, every provision made is suitable, in my view, with the exception of the machinery which will ensure that when they come before the House of Commons they shall have had the most effective scrutiny. That is the only difference there is between us. I think that the right hon. Gentleman must decide on which of the two legs he rests. Sometimes we are told that the Board is an ordinary industrial company, trading under the ordinary rules of commercial practice. In that case, I think that the true definition of the word " proper " used in this Clause is whatever the law demands companies should do, that is, if you regard it as an industrial company, and not a State organisation. Then, of course, it will have to publish accounts in whatever form Parliament may lay down. It is common knowledge that we are hoping to embark on a fairly radical reform of the law relating to companies, and the accounts they keep. I understand that that will not affect the Board, because they make accounts, not in accordance with the law that relates to companies, but in accordance with this Bill. While operating as an ordinary industrial undertaking, with every freedom and not too much control—I know that is the Minister's desire—the Board are really a State industrial undertaking, and it is for the reason that the Minister, quite rightly, has laid down in the Bill that the accounts, unlike those of ordinary companies outside the State, are to be finally submitted to him, with the comments of the auditors and brought to the House of Commons.

The only point we seek to secure is that the Auditor and Comptroller-General should be given, not only the right, but the duty, to make inquiries and, perhaps, have the power of going behind the scenes and asking questions, which is given to him in the normal performance of his duties when he reports to the Public Accounts Committee, which is a Committee of the House, and a secret Committee, if it so chooses. That is an important point. I can well understand, for instance, when we are developing our export trade, that there may be things in the accounts, the complete details of which it would not be desirable to give to all our competitors in other countries, but it is quite a common practice, as hon. Members know, for the Public Accounts Committee to be asked not to publish in their Report to this House certain parts of the evidence which it may be thought unwise to make public. The Committee has our confidence, and we give it power to see things which we do not even ask to see ourselves. We have not the slightest suspicion of the Minister or the Board. The only thing which we both want to secure—he and his friends and I and my friends—is that the accounts, provision for which he has already laid down in the Bill, shall come before the House of Commons, and we want to secure that they shall come before the House of Commons by a method which will bring in the Comptroller and Auditor-General or the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee. We want to ensure that in one way or another that scrutiny should be made in the most effective manner.

I think that the Minister might well consider, as a House of Commons man, whether he could agree to make this addition to the structure—which is otherwise satisfactory—by which the work of the House of Commons, either directly through its Members, or indirectly through its Public Accounts Committee, can be carried on in accordance with tradition, and in accordance with the precedent for other semi-State trading organisations. I think that this point is all the more important, if it is the intention of the Government to set up other similar corporations in other fields of public endeavour, because what is done in one case, tends to become a precedent for another. In that spirit, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who has gone so far in this Bill and in his explanation to meet us, will, in accordance with the general convenience and traditions of the House, take this further step.

Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)

rose—

Mr. Speaker

There has been enough time spent on this matter.

Mr. Keeling

I will take only two minutes. I want to remind the Government of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in the Second Reading Debate, because T think what he said was very much in support of our Amendment. I quote the relevant passage: The House of Commons is entitled to all reasonable information to enable it to know how the industry is getting on; and we are anxious that such information should be furnished…We do not wish to conceal anything. We wish all the facts to be known, and the accounts will be kept in a proper manner. My right hon Friend is as anxious as we all are that they should be properly audited and set out, so that the public and Parliament may form an intelligent view. Mr. J. S. C. REID: Will they come before the Public Accounts Committee? Mr. DALTON: Yes, on the spur of the moment I should say so. I cannot see why not"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th January, 1946; Vol.418, c. 817-8 ] It is perfectly true that the accounts are going to be presented to Parliament, and that the Public Accounts Committee may call for a report from the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Some of the accounts are also going to be submitted through the Comptroller and Auditor-General to Parliament. But that is not what we want, and I do not think that is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer meant either. The Minister referred just now to the ordinary commercial practice being followed by the Board. What is the ordinary commercial practice? It is for the auditor to be appointed by the shareholders not by the directors. We are the shareholders, or we represent them, and I do not think it is the same thing for the Minister, who corresponds as nearly as possible to the directors, to appoint the auditor. We want to have our own auditor, responsible to us and to the country. Question put, "That the words proposed to he left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 333; Noes, 129.

Division No. 167.] AYES [8.12 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Driberg, T. E. N. Kinley, J.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Kirby, B. V
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Dumpleton, C. W Lang, G.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Durbin, E. F M. Lavers, S.
Alpass, J. H. Dye, S. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leslie, J. R.
Attewell, H. C. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lever, Fl. Off. N, H.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Levy. B. W.
Ayles, W. H. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury). Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Bacon, Miss A. Ewart, R. Lindgren, G. S.
Baird, Capt. J. Fairhurst, F. Lipson, D. L
Balfour, A. Farthing, W. J. Logan, D. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J. Follick, M. Lyne, A. W.
Barstow, P G. Foot, M. M. MoAdam, W.
Barton, C. Forman, J. C. McEntee, V. La T.
Battley, J. R. Foster, W. (Wigan) McGhee, H G
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Mack, J. D.
Bechervaise, A. E. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Belcher, J. W. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Bellenger, F. J. Gaitskell, H. T. N. McKinlay, A. S.
Benson, G. Gallacher, W. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Berry, H. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. McLeavy, F.
Beswick, F. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Gibbins, J. Mainwaring, W. H.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Gibson, C. W Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Binns, J. Gilzean, A. Mann, Mrs. J.
Blackburn, A. R Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Goodrich, H. E. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Blyton, W. R. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Marquand, H. A.
Boardman, H. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Bottomley, A. G. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Medland, H. M.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Grenfell, D. R. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Bowen, R. Grey, C. F. Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'1, Exch'ge) Grierson, E. Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Monslow, W.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Lianelly) Montague, F.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Moody, A. S.
Brown, George (Balpar) Guest, Dr. L. Haden Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gunter, Capt. R. J. Morley, R.
Buchanan, G. Guy, W. H. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Burden, T. W. Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Burke, W. A. Hale, Leslie Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare) Mort, D. L.
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Moyle, A.
Callaghan, James Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Murray, J. D
Castle, Mrs. B. A Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Nally, W.
Champion, A. J Hardy, E. A Naylor, T. E.
Chater, D. Harrison, J. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Hastings, Dr Somerville Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Cluse, W. S. Haworth, J. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Cobb, F. A. Henderson, A, (Kingswinford) Noel-Buxton, Lady
Collick, P. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Oldfield, W. H.
Collins, V. J Herbison, Miss M Oliver, G. H.
Colman, Miss G. M. Hicks, G. Orbach, M.
Comyns, Dr. L. Hobson, C. R. Paget, R. T.
Cook, T. F. Holman, P. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Hoy, J. Palmer, A. M. F.
Corlett, Dr. J. Hubbard, T. Pargiter, G. A.
Corvedale, Viscount Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Parker, J.
Cove, W. G. Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.) Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Paton. Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Daines, P. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Devics, Edward (Burslem) Irving, W. J. Pearson, A.
Davies. Ernest (Enfield) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Pearl, Capt. T. F.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Janner, B. Perrins, W.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jeger, G. (Winchester) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Davies. S. O. (Merthyr) John, W. Popplewell, E.
Deer, G. Jones, A C. (Shipley) Porter, E. (Warrington)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Delargy, Captain H. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Price, M. Philips
Diamond, J. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Pritt, D. N.
Dobbie, W. Keenan, W. Proctor, W. T.
Dodds, N. N Kenyon, C. Pryde, D. J.
Donovan, T. King, E. M. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Douglas, F. e. R. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Ranger, J.

CLAUSE 34.—(Savings as to certain coal, etc.)

Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 29, line 38, to leave out " any," and to insert " Regulations 51 and 51A."

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Subsection (4), which the Amendment proposes substantially to reduce, is that which keeps alive, for the purposes of the Bill, the whole gamut of the Defence Regulations. As hon. Members are aware, the greater part of the Defence Regulations which were in force during the late war have been preserved in their operation by two Acts which the House passed not long ago. It remains the fact that it is still possible for His Majestys Government by the use of those powers to prohibit all strikes, to direct labour in any direction and to requisition most forms of property. It is, therefore, perhaps of some significance that the draftsmen of the Bill have seen fit to preserve in full these powers, so far as the coal industry is concerned. That is the fact. It is inevitable, when the Government take the trouble to preserve these gross, and in the opinion of many Members excessive, powers in connection with this industry, that some disquiet has arisen as to the intended use of those powers, since it is evident that if those powers were used by the Minister within the coal industry it would be possible to make a sham and a farce of all the safeguards contained in the Bill.

That point was appreciated by hon. and vigilant Members of the Standing Committee, when the point was raised upstairs. The Committee had the benefit of the assistance of the Solicitor-General. When his attention had been invited to this matter he gave an explanation which can be perfectly fairly summed up under three heads. He told the Committee that the object of Subsection (4) was simply to preserve, so far as the coal industry was concerned, the powers conferred by Defence Regulation 51 and 51A, in regard to opencast working. I am not concerned at this moment to dispute the desirability or otherwise of doing that thing. I am very glad to see the Solicitor-General now in his place. [HON MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am also glad to hear that hon. Members opposite share my pleasure at that rare privilege. The Solicitor-General, in the Standing Committee, went out of his way to assure the Committee, first, that what I have just said was the main reason. Second, he assured the Committee that no sinister implications were to be drawn from Subsection (4). Finally, he gave an undertaking to look at the matter again.

Perhaps it will be of assistance to the House if I read a brief extract from the proceedings of the Standing Committee. The Solicitor-General, in response to a question from myself said: I can answer the hon. Gentleman quite shortly. Under Defence Regulations 51 and .51A, the Minister has certain powers which enable him, as things are, to work opencast workings. They constitute a very welcome addition to the nation's supply of coal, and the Minister wishes to preserve his powers to work those opencast workings and to use them in the public interest. I need not trouble the House with the further argument that proceeded. The Solicitor-General's attention was, as I am sure he will agree, drawn to the fact that for the purpose of preserving those two Defence Regulations he was, in fact, preserving what I may not inappropriately describe as the whole boiling. Finally, he said: I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept my assurance that we have not any sinister intent. We do not want to turn the country upside down. I will look at it "— I understand that the word "it " refers to the Subsection and not to the country, to which it does grammatically refer— between now and Report stage to see that we do not go too far. The main thing is opencast working. I am advised that there may be one or two others, however. The right hon. Gentleman is not perhaps aware that Regulation 51 occupies three pages. To which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) replied: So does the Bill.

Mr. James Glanville (Consett)

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Gentleman to read his speech?

8.3o p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If the hon. Gentleman had done me the courtesy of listening to my observations he would have appreciated that I was not making my speech at this point, but was reading an extract from the speech of the Solicitor-General during the Standing Committee proceedings. In addition to that, I am a little surprised that the hon. Member was not able at once to identify the rather peculiar literary style of the Solicitor-General. — [Interruption.] — I would be only too glad, in response to that observation, to have any credit which I was not entitled to. I admit that it would be a matter for some regret if I were to have had attributed to me the flexible English of the Solicitor-General. Having now reassured the hon. Member, I will invite his attention, as well as that of the House, to the observations of a member of his own Government: It would be very unfortunate if we had to embody much of that in the Bill, but I will look at it and see that there is nothing sinister in the Clause as finally drafted, and in those circumstances I would ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 2nd April, 1946; c. 695–698.] Responding, as Members of the Opposition always do, to a genial appeal of that nature, the Amendment was withdrawn. It was, therefore, with some surprise that, on scanning the voluminous Order Paper, we failed to discover any Amendment to deal with this matter. Realising, as we do, from the form in which so many Government Amendments are drafted, that Government draftsmen are manifestly overworked, we ourselves drafted the Amendment to put into effect precisely what the Solicitor-General said were the intentions of the Government. I do not suppose we shall get any credit for that, for, after all, this is an unjust world, but we have given the House an opportunity to put the Solicitor-General's explanation into effect. I have very little doubt, having a simple trust in the honesty of human nature, that an hon. or right hon. Gentleman, opposite will rise in a few moments to accept this Amendment. If, owing to what is described elsewhere as, " a technical hitch," he does not do so the House will be interested to know why it has been thought necessary to throw overboard the only argument which, on the Committee Stage, was made against a similar Amendment.

The Attorney-General

I must try to do something to dissipate the disquiet from which the hon. Member for Kingston - upon - Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) suffers, and to remove the air of gloom and despondency with which he is surrounding himself in regard to this matter. The hon. Member sought to make our flesh creep by suggesting that if the Minister were to exercise all the powers which still remain under the Defence Regulations, against the Board, a state of chaos and confusion would arise. No doubt if we lived in the world of "Alice in Wonderland," and Ministers sought to exercise all the powers they possessed on inappropriate occasions, and in most unsuitable circumstances, all sorts of things might happen. But we must live in the world in which we are, and deal with facts as they exist. The last Election was a convincing manifestation of this, that we live in a world which is becoming increasingly rational. Members opposite assume that the Minister will misuse such powers as remain to him—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Why take them?

The Attorney-General

The hon. Member said that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General had used the expression " sinister," about this provision. That was exactly the word I put at the heading of my own note about this matter. I am glad to think that my hon. and learned Friend, who speaks the tongue Shakespeare spoke, and who is such a master of Parliamentary oratory in these matters, was able to pick on the one word which so aptly described the position in regard to this particular provision of the Bill. There is really nothing sinister about this. When the hon. Gentleman talked about the whole boiling, I thought he was referring to something said by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, and I confess I was a little shocked by such a lapse in the Solicitor-General's usual literary style, but I think the phrase was of the hon. Member's own choice. I do not know which particular witches' cauldron he was thinking about.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to have an answer to that, he can have it.

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman sought to conjure up from his particular cauldron a situation which has no existence in fact. We have considered, as the Solicitor-General undertook to do, the position in regard to this matter, but we regard this provision as a necessary one. Its object is not to create any new powers, but to preserve any existing powers which are properly exercisable. I will give an example which makes it clear that we must have these powers. It may be that a competent authority under the Defence Regulations has actually gone into possession of some land forming part of a colliery undertaking, and which will be transferred under the Bill. Possibly it may have built a camp on it, or have used it for some appropriate Government Department. It may have requisitioned movable property belonging to a colliery company, property which, under the Bill, will vest in the Board. In such a case the rights of the competent authority—not necessarily of the Minister of Fuel and Power but the competent authority whatever it may be-must quite clearly be preserved.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

Could not the competent authority exercise the powers under Regulation 51, which the Amendment specifically preserves?

The Attorney-General:

It would depend upon whether it was the Regulation under which it acted. It might be that it would have acted under Regulation 50 or under a Regulation with regard to some other matter. Let me give another example, for, as the hon. Member pointed out, there are very many. It might conceivably be that a direction under the Essential Work Order had been given to some colliery official that he was to work in a particular colliery. If that were the case, it might be desired, for the time being, that such a direction should continue to be effective after that colliery had been taken over by the Board.

The effect of the Clause is, I think, perhaps negative. I cannot think that it is likely to be very greatly exercised, but it is necessary to retain these powers for the present while there is still in existence a number of Orders already made under Defence Regulations which will have to be preserved for a little, and which would fall to the ground at once and automatically if we accepted the Amendment. We must, therefore, reject it.

Sir John Mellor (Sutton Coldfield)

The illustrations which the Attorney-General has given have not been in the least convincing. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the possibility that some colliery official might be directed to work at a particular place, under the Essential Work Order, which, I think, is Regulation 58 or 58A. But surely, whatever there may be in this Bill, it will not affect the powers of the Minister of Labour to direct that individual to work anywhere, because those powers have been expressly preserved by Statute. As the Attorney- General will remember, we moved a Prayer against the continuance of Regulations 58A and 58AA, but they were continued under the Supplies and Services Act. We prayed unsuccessfully against their continuance under that Act. I am, however, speaking subject to correction as to the exact way in which it was done.

At any rate, I am right in saying that the Minister of Labour has preserved to himself for the next five years the full right to direct anybody to work anywhere, and, therefore, when the learned Attorney-General says that it is necessary to have this provision because it might happen that it would be necessary to direct somebody under the Essential Work Order, it seems to me to be purely redundant. The power is already there and I cannot understand for what purpose he used that instance.

Captain Crookshank:

The reply of the learned Attorney-General was really most uncompromising and also very strange considering that the hon. and learned Gentleman who gave us the assurance is sitting on his left—which is sinister in the real interpretation of that word. After listening most attentively to the hon. and learned Gentleman I cannot for the life of me understand why the Government will not give us this Amendment, which is a limiting one for the powers which we are told the Government require. Nothing could have been more specific than that which the learned Solicitor-General said in defence of keeping all these powers. The learned Attorney-General, who was not present at that Committee—under the new system they go in and out—says they require this in case there might be a direction under the Essential Work Order for some person to be employed in the mines. That is his excuse for asking for this power, but if he looks at what his right hon. Friend said when the question was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) in Committee whether this was possible, the Minister categorically said, "We have no power to direct labour." If they have no power to direct labour, it seems to me to be a very odd argument. The Minister says he wants this power in order that he may have it.

The Attorney-General:

I had endeavoured to make this point clear, but with the leave of the House I will repeat what I said, which was that these powers were exercisable by the competent authority—not necessarily the Minister of Fuel and Power at all, but whoever was the competent authority in regard to a particular power in the Defence Regulations. As the right hon. Gentleman knows so much better than I do, the competent authority under the Essential Work Order is not the Minister of Fuel and Power.

Captain Crookshank:

That being so, there is no particular point in dragging this thing in here because the competent authority still has its power under the existing law. Are these words vital in order that the competent authority may maintain that position?

The Attorney-General:

With the leave of the House I will answer that question. We think these words are vital to remove doubt, because what happens here is that there is a transfer—to take that particular case under the Essential Work Order—of the employer. Assuming there is a change in the employer, an order under the Essential Work Order in regard to a colliery undertaking might not subsist when there was a change in that undertaking, and similarly in the case of other orders.

Captain Crookshank:

I shall have to think that one out. [Interruption.] Has the Communist Party something to say on the subject? One who has not a technical mind cannot appreciate why the powers would not devolve to the competent authority under the regulations, but that is not what the present words are wanted for. They are for open cast working—and in spite of the Attorney-General having said that he did not want to turn the country upside down, that is precisely what open cast working does. I would ask the Government to accept this Amendment, and if they do not, we shall have to register our opposition.

Question put, "That the word 'any' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 324; Noes, 127.

Division No. 167.] AYES [8.12 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Driberg, T. E. N. Kinley, J.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Kirby, B. V
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Dumpleton, C. W Lang, G.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Durbin, E. F M. Lavers, S.
Alpass, J. H. Dye, S. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leslie, J. R.
Attewell, H. C. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lever, Fl. Off. N, H.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Levy. B. W.
Ayles, W. H. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury). Lewis, J. (Bolton)
Bacon, Miss A. Ewart, R. Lindgren, G. S.
Baird, Capt. J. Fairhurst, F. Lipson, D. L
Balfour, A. Farthing, W. J. Logan, D. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J. Follick, M. Lyne, A. W.
Barstow, P G. Foot, M. M. MoAdam, W.
Barton, C. Forman, J. C. McEntee, V. La T.
Battley, J. R. Foster, W. (Wigan) McGhee, H G
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Mack, J. D.
Bechervaise, A. E. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Belcher, J. W. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)
Bellenger, F. J. Gaitskell, H. T. N. McKinlay, A. S.
Benson, G. Gallacher, W. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Berry, H. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. McLeavy, F.
Beswick, F. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Gibbins, J. Mainwaring, W. H.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Gibson, C. W Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Binns, J. Gilzean, A. Mann, Mrs. J.
Blackburn, A. R Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Goodrich, H. E. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Blyton, W. R. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Marquand, H. A.
Boardman, H. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Bottomley, A. G. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Medland, H. M.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Grenfell, D. R. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Bowen, R. Grey, C. F. Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'1, Exch'ge) Grierson, E. Mitchison, Maj. G. R.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Monslow, W.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Lianelly) Montague, F.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Moody, A. S.
Brown, George (Balpar) Guest, Dr. L. Haden Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gunter, Capt. R. J. Morley, R.
Buchanan, G. Guy, W. H. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Burden, T. W. Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Burke, W. A. Hale, Leslie Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare) Mort, D. L.
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Moyle, A.
Callaghan, James Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Murray, J. D
Castle, Mrs. B. A Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Nally, W.
Champion, A. J Hardy, E. A Naylor, T. E.
Chater, D. Harrison, J. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Hastings, Dr Somerville Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Cluse, W. S. Haworth, J. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Cobb, F. A. Henderson, A, (Kingswinford) Noel-Buxton, Lady
Collick, P. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Oldfield, W. H.
Collins, V. J Herbison, Miss M Oliver, G. H.
Colman, Miss G. M. Hicks, G. Orbach, M.
Comyns, Dr. L. Hobson, C. R. Paget, R. T.
Cook, T. F. Holman, P. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Hoy, J. Palmer, A. M. F.
Corlett, Dr. J. Hubbard, T. Pargiter, G. A.
Corvedale, Viscount Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Parker, J.
Cove, W. G. Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.) Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Paton. Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Daines, P. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Devics, Edward (Burslem) Irving, W. J. Pearson, A.
Davies. Ernest (Enfield) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Pearl, Capt. T. F.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Janner, B. Perrins, W.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jeger, G. (Winchester) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Davies. S. O. (Merthyr) John, W. Popplewell, E.
Deer, G. Jones, A C. (Shipley) Porter, E. (Warrington)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Delargy, Captain H. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Price, M. Philips
Diamond, J. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Pritt, D. N.
Dobbie, W. Keenan, W. Proctor, W. T.
Dodds, N. N Kenyon, C. Pryde, D. J.
Donovan, T. King, E. M. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Douglas, F. e. R. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Ranger, J.
Rankin, J. Sorensen, R. W. Walker, G. H.
Reeves, J. Soskice, Maj. Sir F. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Reid, T (Swindon) Sparks, J. A. Warbey, W. N.
Rhodes, H. Stamford, W Watson, W. M.
Richards, R. Steele, T Weitzman, D.
Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Stephen, C. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Robens, A. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Strachey, J. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Stross, Dr. B. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Stubbs, A. E. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Rogers, G. H. R. Summerskill, Dr. Edith Wigg, Col. G. E.
Royle, C. Swingler, S. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Sargood, R. Symonds, Maj. A. L. Wilkes, Maj. L.
Scollan, T. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Wilkins, W. A.
Scott-Elliot, W. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Willey, o. G. (Cleveland)
Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Thomas, Iver (Keighley) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Thomas, George (Cardiff) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G R. (Ed'b'gh, E.) Williamson, T.
Shurmer, P. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton) Willis, E.
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Thurtle, E. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Tiffany, S. Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.
Simmons, C. J. Timmons, J. Wilson, J. H.
Skeffington, A. M. Titterington, M. F. Wise, Major F. J
Skinnard, F. W. Tolley, L. Woodburn, A.
Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester) Turner-Samuels, M. Woods, G. S.
Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Ungoed-Thomas, L. Yates, V. F.
Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Usborne, Henry Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.) Vernon, Maj. W. F. Zilliacus, K.
Smith, T. (Normanton) Viant, S. P.
Snow, Capt. J. W. Wadsworth, G TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Solley, L. J. Walkden, E Mr. Collindridge and
Mr. Coldrick.
NOES.
Aitken, Hon. Max Gridley, Sir A Prescott, Stanley
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R Grimston, R. V. Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
Astor, Hon. M. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Raikes, H. V.
Baldwin, A. E. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V Rayner, Brig. R.
Barlow, Sir J. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Renton, D.
Beechman, N. A. Howard, Hon. A Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Bennett, Sir P. Hurd, A Ropner, Col. L.
Bossom, A. C. Hutchison, Lt-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Ross, Sir R.
Bower, N. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow. C.) Sanderson, Sir F.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Jarvis, Sir J. Scott, Lord W.
Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Shephard, S. (Newark)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Jennings, R. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Snadden, W. M.
Butcher, H. W Keeling, E. H. Spearman, A. C. M.
Carson, E. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Spence, H. R.
Clarke, Col. R. S Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Linstead, H. N. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Conant, Maj. R J. E. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lucas, Major Sir J. Studholme, H. G.
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Sutcliffe, H.
Cuthbert, W. N. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Davidson. Viscountess McCallum, Maj. D. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
De la Bere, R. Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I of Wight) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)
Digby, Maj. S. W. Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R. Teeling, William
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Drewe, C. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Duthie, W. S. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Touche, G. C.
Eccles, D. M. Marples, A. E. Turton, R. H.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Vane, W. M. T.
Erroll, F. J. Mellor, Sir J. Walker-Smith, D.
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Molson, A. H. E. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Frster, J. G. (Northwich) Neven-Spence, Sir B Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. Nield, B. (Cheser) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Orr-Ewing, I. L. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Osborne, C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Gage, Lt.-Col. C. Peake, Rt Hon O York, C.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Pickthorn, K
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Pitman, I. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gomme-Duncan. Col. A. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Sir Arthur Young and Commander Agnew.
Division 168.] AYES. [8.45 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Fairhurst, F.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Cluse, W. S. Farthing, W. J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cobb, F. A Follick, M.
Alpass, J. H. Coldrick, W Foot, M. M.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Collick, P. Forman, J. C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Collindridge, F. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Attewell, H. C. Collins, V. J. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Awbery, S. S. Colman, Miss G. M. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
Ayles, W. H. Comyns, Dr. L. Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Cook, T F. Gaitskell, H. T. N
Bacon, Miss A. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Gallacher, W.
Baird, Capt. J. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Balfour, A. Corlett, Dr. J. George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A.[...] Corvedale, Viscount Gibbins, J.
Barstow, P. G Cove, W. G. Gibson, C. W
Barton, O. Daines, P. Gilzean, A.
Battley, J. R. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Bechervaise, A. E. Davies, Harold (Leek) Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)
Belcher, J. W. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Grenfell, D. R.
Bellenger, F. J. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Grey, C. F.
Benson, G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Grierson, E.
Berry, H. Deer, G. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Beswick, F. de Freitas, Geoffrey Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Delargy, Captain H. J. Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Diamond, J. Guest, Dr. L Haden
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Dobbie, W. Gunter, Capt. R. J.
Blyton, W. R. Dodds, N. N. Guy, W. H.
Boardman, H. Donovan, T. Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)
Bottomley, A. G. Douglas, F. C. R. Hale, Leslie
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Driberg, T. E. N. Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)
Bowen, R. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Dumpleton, C. W. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Durbin, E. F. M. Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Dye, S. Hardy, E. A.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Harrison, J.
Brown, George (Belper) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Haworth, J.
Buchanan, G. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Burden, T. W. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Burke, W. A. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Herbison, Miss M
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Hicks, G.
Callaghan, James Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hobson, C. R.
Champion, A. J. Ewart, R. Holman, P.

CLAUSE 35.—(Provisions as to superannuation, etc., rights.)

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 30, line 8, after "purposes,"to insert: (whether subsisting by virtue of trust, contract or otherwise).

This Clause provides a striking illustration of the benefits of nationalisation to the people who work in the coal industry. It deals with the provision of pensions schemes and this is a mere drafting provision for that Clause. It is really self-explanatory and makes Subsection (1, c) clearer by indicating the manner in which the schemes are to be operated.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move, in page 30, line 12, at the end, to insert: so however that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as authorising diversion of any such funds to purposes other than those of the preceding paragraphs.

I gave an assurance to the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) that in regard to trust funds, pensions and such like objects, the funds would not be diverted to some other purpose, and it is in order to ensure that that will be complied with that I move this Amendment.

Captain Crookshank:

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for putting in these words. When his hon. Friend says that this shows the benefits effected by putting in a Labour Government, he will perhaps note that this improvement had to be made at our suggestion.

Amendment agreed to.

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, in page 30, line 34, to leave out "so far as practicable."

Major Roberts

rose

The Attorney-General:

We are prepared to accept this Amendment. It is one of those rare gems and a case in which we are anxious to help.

Major Roberts:

I am much obliged to the Attorney-General for stepping in so quickly. But this is a point of substance, and I feel that he did not quite explain the reason why he accepts the Amendment. This is a very important point, which, I feel, must be emphasised. The Minister made a very important statement upstairs, and it was to that end that this Amendment was drafted. I want to be certain that the point which I had in mind is covered, and that the point is one which is now recognised, because it may well be that in the drafting the point has not been covered.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

That is a matter which concerns the hon. Member who drafts an Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, in page 30, line 40, at the end, to insert: (3) The regulations made under this Section shall provide that any question or difference arising under this Section or such regulations shall be referred to arbitration under this Act.

Mr. Norman Bower (Harrow, West)

This Amendment is self-explanatory, and there is little I need say about it. When this Clause was discussed in Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) said that we should probably want to try to get the principle of arbitration inserted at a later stage. This Clause is bound to have a serious and far-reaching effect on the welfare of many people. If one reads it, one sees that it is quite likely to become a fruitful source of dispute. I would draw attention to Subsection (2, a), and suggest that there might well be disputes about many points there, for instance, with regard to whether a right of benefit exists, or whether there is an expectation of accruer of any particular benefit, or whether it exists under a customary practice, or whether, in fact, it ceases or is prejudiced by reason of the passing of this Measure. There might very well be a dispute as to whether the substituted benefits" referred to in line 33 are, in fact, not less advantageous than the benefits which the recipients would have received if this Measure had not been passed. It seems to me that there might easily be disputes about all those points. It is only in accordance with principles of justice that anyone who feels aggrieved on any of these points should have the opportunity of submitting his case to arbitration. It is never a good thing to have a large number of people going about labouring under a sense of grievance for which they have no redress. I hope that the Minister will be able to see his way to accept this Amendment.

Mr. Shinwell:

I am sorry, but I must ask hon. Members to reject this Amendment. [Interruption.] Any objection?

Captain Crookshank:

Yes, certainly.

Mr. Shinwell:

The proposal is that we should associate arbitration with the regulations. Of course we cannot do anything of the sort. Besides, we did improve this Clause, partly at the suggestion of hon. Members opposite, partly of our own volition. We do exercise our own volition occasionally, and I hope that no exception will be taken to that. If there should be an aggrieved person—I do not see why there should be any aggrieved persons operating under aegis of the National Coal Board—who is not satisfied with the solatium afforded him by the Board in respect of pensions, gratuities or other like benefits, or who regards himself, as accruer, to be entitled to other like benefits, he can always have recourse to the courts. In those circumstances I must ask for the rejection of the proposed Amendment.

Major Roberts:

The Minister asked whether we have any objection. I certainly have objections to this. I maintain seriously that one of the difficulties with which we are to be faced in the future will be the manpower problem vis-à-vis the State monopoly organisation. I say that in all sincerity. One of the difficulties will be that a man may feel aggrieved. I am not saying that necessarily he is aggrieved, but one knows from experience in the Army what a feeling of injustice does to a man. If the only right which the Minister gives is that the man must go to court, most of us know from our experience that the poor man finds that procedure very difficult. It is a lengthy procedure, and meanwhile he is out of employment. It is a very simple solution that there should be a quick and speedy arbitration so that the man can state his case and feel at least that he has had a hearing. The only way we are going to make this thing work in the future, if it is going to work at all, is by building up good will between the management, the administrators, and the men. Something of this kind would be a safety valve.

It should not be left that the man should have to go through the courts against an all powerful State with all the money backing of the biggest lawyers. I cannot see why a suggestion of this sort, possibly not in these words, cannot be accepted. I think hon Members opposite who represent constituencies in which there are mining villages should give us the benefit of their advice on this matter. They have been silent for too long during this Debate. We would like to know where they stand. Is it that they disapprove, or that they approve? Silence can mean two things. I think there is a certain amount of querying going on, and I hope we shall have some assistance from hon. Gentlemen opposite on this matter.

Amendment negatived. CLAUSE 38.—(Provisions as to the Miners' Welfare Commission.)

Mr. Erroll (Altrincham and Sale)

I beg to move, in page 32, line 9, at the end, to insert: The members of the Commission appointed by the Minister under this Subsection shall comprise at least one person (who shall be the holder of a first-class certificate of competency under the Coal Mines Act, 1911, and shall have had not less than seven years' practical experience as manager of a mine or in a managerial position of a similar but superior technical character to that of manager of a mine) to be nominated by the National Association of Colliery Managers.

This small Amendment will, I am sure, have the sympathy of the Minister. It deals with the subject of colliery managers and their appointment to the Miners' Welfare Commission. It is obviously to the advantage of the Commission that there should be at least one colliery manager on that body. It will be good for the Commission to have the benefit of his practical and intimate knowledge of miners' working conditions. Of course, it will also be good for the colliery manager to meet others with perhaps a broader point of view who may be able to bring him up to date in regard to welfare work proceeding outside his own immediate purpose. It is important that the colliery manager should be a good man, who is known and respected throughout the industry. That is why I have suggested——

Mr. Gallacher:

And a good Tory.

Mr. Erroll:

I know the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will not be happy until there is a good Communist on the Commission. Perhaps he might suggest an Amendment to that effect. I suggest not only that the colliery manager should be a good man who is accepted by the National Association, but that he should have well recognised professional standards, a point which I have mentioned in the part in brackets. Those are qualifications which I think no one will seriously dispute. I think, too, that it is desirable for the men to have this tie with the Association and so with the Welfare Commission, so that he may inform the Association, who will, since they have appointed him, pay very much more respect to his views and will all the more speedily be able to implement the spirit of the Commission's recommendations as well as the orders they issue. I therefore hope the Minister will see his way to incorporate this small, model improvement in the Bill, thereby showing that he is at times benevolently disposed to a class of hard-working men who have been subject to much criticism.

Colonel Clarke:

I beg to second the Amendment.

Its purpose is quite clear, but, in case there are any hon. Members here not connected with the mining industry, I think one should point out what a vast thing this Commission is. The present Miners' Welfare Commission took over in 1939 the task of administering the national Miners' Welfare Fund, and it has the spending of something like a million pounds a year, and has spent that sum for the last 20 years or more, in fact, since 1921. The money is derived from the penny a ton levy and also from the shilling royalties, which is going to pithead baths. The money is spent on canteens, recreation grounds, pithead baths, health centres and education, and, in a great many of these directions, the assistance of the management would be of advantage.

For the reasons advanced by my hon. Friend and one or two more that have occurred to me, I hope this might be favourably considered. It is really essential that some representative of the technical staff of the colliery should be a member. I think it is very definitely a help to the workers in the colliery, and I think it will help to keep the liaison and contact between management and workers. I would remind the Minister that he is going to have a chairman and nine members, and that it is not very much to ask for one of those members to represent this side. Lastly, in future, management and workers will no longer be representing employers and employed, though I understand that they are not to be civil servants. I think they will be co-partners in this great new State industry set up under this Bill, and I think that it is only right that all sides of their co-partnership should be represented.

Mr. Shinwell:

This proposal is quite superfluous, and I can assure the hon. Member who moved it that, at the present time, under the present Miners' Welfare Commission, there are technical men associated with the industry. Perhaps it would make the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) even happier than the hon. Member opposite desires when I tell him that there is a Communist on it. I propose to make certain changes, not so much in personnel, but as regards direction. I have thought for a long time, even before I came to the Department and when I was associated with the old Mines Department, that the Miners' Welfare Commission should come more under the direction of the Minister than is the case. Welfare is an essential part of the atmosphere that is so desirable in the industry. It is a matter for persons who are, in a sense, operating under the supervision or, at any rate, the direction of the Minister, who is answerable to Parliament.

9.15 p.m.

Parliament is obviously interested in the wellbeing of the persons employed, but I must enter a caveat at the suggestion that highly qualified technicians are the best persons to deal with welfare. In the course of our Debate yesterday, I said that I had a high regard for British mining engineers who, in my judgment, are the best in the world, but I am not prepared to say that they understand welfare as we interpret it. Their job is a technical one although, undoubtedly, many of them are concerned about the wellbeing of the persons in their employment and under their jurisdiction. At the same time, their knowledge of welfare is not as comprehensive as we desire it to be—at any rate, it has not been frequently expressed. I must ask hon. Members to agree that this question of the appointment of suitable persons to undertake welfare work under the new dispensation in the mining industry should be left to myself. I propose to appoint persons—I use the word "appoint" deliberately and advisedly—who, in my judgment, are best qualified to deal with this important matter.

Amendment negatived.

CLAUSE 40.—(Amendments of working facilities enactments.)

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 33, line 43, after "application," to insert "made with respect to coal."

With your permission, Sir, I propose to deal with this and also the next Amendment in page 34, line 5, to leave out "made, with respect to coal," and to insert, "being an application made." Clause 40 provides for Amendments to the working facilities enactments consequent on the transfer to the Board of the functions of the Coal Commission. These are purely drafting Amendments and are consequential one upon the other in Subsection (2) of the Clause. We merely take the qualifying phrase earlier in the Clause to make it a little clearer.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 34, line 5, leave out "made, with respect to coal," and insert "being an application made."—[The Attorney-General.]

CLAUSE 42.—(Duty of the Board as to establishment of machinery for settlement of terms and conditions of employment, etc.)

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, in page 35, line 8, after "persons," to insert: (which organisations notify their desire to be consulted).

Major Roberts:

This Clause looks very nice on paper, but does not mean very much. I want to ask the Attorney-General or the Parliamentary Secretary between whom, exactly, these various consultations as to industrial arbitration machinery are to take place. At the moment, there is what I might call a certain amount of friction between the unions. I have here a cutting from a Yorkshire paper which talks about a notice to strike of Yorkshire pitmen—referring to the Yorkshire Deputies' Association—because they are dissatisfied with rival unions, which will affect a large number of collieries and output. One of the dangers which I foresee, if we do not have an Amendment such as this in the Clause, is that the Minister will be asked to deal with one union as opposed to another, and the coal industry will become a battleground between unions for the hand of the Minister instead of for getting output, which is what we want.

This Amendment has been put down in order to obtain guidance from the Attorney-General or from the Parliamentary Secretary as to whether they are certain that the Clause, as drafted, will do what they intend. It would be far better if those who represent unions, on making application in writing, as the Amendment states, so long as they represent employees of the Board, were brought into these consultations in order to set up the machinery. I ask the Government to give us an assurance that this Clause, which looks good, will not turn out to give trouble and be the cause of loss of output.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Gaitskell)

On behalf of my right hon. Friend, I can readily give the assurance for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman asks. It is not my right hon. Friend's intention to create friction—and he is quite satisfied that this Clause will not do so—nor lead to any reduction in output; in fact quite the contrary. As the Amendment stands—I fancy it was intended to be moved in connection with one which, unfortunately, was not called—it does not really add very much to the Clause. What the Clause says is: It shall be the duty of the Board to enter into consultation with organisations appearing to them to represent substantial proportions of the persons in the employment of the Board. and so on. All the Amendment does is to oblige the organisations concerned to notify their desire to be consulted. I admit there is no great harm in that, but I am sure the hon. Member will agree that it is not really necessary. My right hon. Friend did say a good deal on this subject in Committee, and I think he made it clear that he was anxious to have the widest possible form of consultation. Perhaps I should remind the hon. Member that it will not be the Minister who will be taking part in these consultations, but the Board itself. I hope that on that understanding, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will withdraw the Amendment.

Captain Crookshank:

I think that explanation does help us. It is quite true that without the previous Amendment this Debate is rather jejune on this point. We are glad to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, and in view of the fact that we are rather a larger audience here than in Committee upstairs, whose work was not followed in such great detail as it might have been by everybody, I would like to put on record that when the Bill was introduced no provision was thought necessary for dealing with this problem. It was brought up as a new Clause as a result of discussions which we on this side initiated, realising, as we do, that it is necessary to have proper consultative machinery with re- gard to conditions of employment—a matter in which the draftsmen under the instructions of the Government had no interest whatsoever.

Amendment negatived.

CLAUSE 44.—(Transfer of liability for subsidence from colliery concerns to the Board.)

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 35, line 28, to leave out "of colliery concerns," and to insert: to which, apart from this Section, colliery concerns would be subject either— (a).

I would also like to deal with the two Amendments that follow—in page 35, line 30, leave out "shall," and insert: or (b) to pay compensation for, or to make good, by virtue of terms or conditions on or subject to which rights to withdraw support are exercisable, damage arising from acts or omissions so done or occurring, shall, in any case where the cause of action in respect of the breach of the right of support accrues, or the damage to be compensated or made good arises, as the case may be, on or after the primary vesting date. and in page 35, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of Clause.

Clause 44 deals with claims in respect of subsidence damage, and transfers liability to the Board in all cases where the cause of action arose after the primary vesting date. In cases where the damage occurred before that date the right of action against the colliery company, of course, remains. The Clause does not pretend to alter or review in any way the general law as to subsidence damage. That is a matter which may arise for consideration at some future time. We are merely dealing here with the liabilities under the existing law.

The first Amendment is a purely drafting Amendment. The next Amendment, in line 30, brings in a new class of liability which was not covered as the Clause stands, namely that which occurs when support is withdrawn pursuant to some agreed right to withdraw support, support, subject to payment of compensation. Previously the Clause had dealt only with the wrongful withdrawal of support. The Amendment to line 33 deals with another matter. The Clause had previously made the transfer of liability depend on whether or not an action had actually been commenced at the primary vesting date. On further consideration that appears not to be a convenient course, and might possibly have prejudiced people who had suffered damage. Therefore, the omission of the proviso in that regard puts those people in a better position.

Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)

When I saw that Clause 44 had been devised in Committee I was of good heart, because I thought that upstairs perhaps the point of view about which some hon. Members on this side of the House feel very keenly would have been met. I notice that the learned Attorney-General said this Clause was merely dealing with the liabilities as they now stand. There was one word in his reply which alarmed me a little. I do not know whether it was deliberate or not. Dealing with the problem of miners whose cottages had been damaged, and other matters, he said that subsidence might be dealt with in future legislation. I understood that in Committee upstairs a firm promise was made that, although that case would not be dealt with under the Bill, there would be future legislation. I would be very grateful if I could have that point cleared up before we vote on this Clause.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

These Amendments cover one of two points which I raised during the course of the proceedings upstairs. In fact, before these Amendments appeared on the Order Paper my right hon. Friend had put down two Amendments to give effect to those two points in the Bill. Those two Amendments are still on the Order Paper. So far as the first point is concerned, I think that is adequately covered by these Amendments, and I am sure the learned Attorney-General is duly grateful to hon. Members on this side of the House for having drawn the attention of the Government to this omission from their Bill. As regards the other point, I am sorry to say that that is not yet covered. It is, I think, a matter of a non-controversial kind, and I would like to refer to it, as I think it might be for the convenience of the House so to do. The other point raises a rather special kind of case. The Clause as it stands, and as it will stand after this Amendment, will deal with liability to pay compensation. There is a special form of liability imposed on colliery companies whose workings take them under railways not to pay compensation but, if the railway company raises no objection, merely to pay a contribution towards making good the damage.

As I read the Amendments I do not think they cover that point. We were received most sympathetically by the Government spokesman, I think the learned Solicitor-General, who acknowledged the validity of the points we had made, and indicated the intention of the Government to deal with them. I hope the learned Attorney-General may be able to say that the Government have not found it impossible, but that they do intend to take some action at a later stage, or by further legislation, to cover that other point also. With regard to what the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Jennie Lee) said, I am not sure whether she has considered the report of the proceedings upstairs or not, but I think if she had done so she would have realised that, whatever may have been the views of hon. Members in the past as to the conduct of this industry under nationalisation, in fact, the mere substitution of a public corporation for the existing owners will not make very much difference to many people who thought that they would be affected. Indeed, I think it was one of her colleagues upstairs who remarked quite candidly that in his opinion this Board was not likely to be a better employer than the private owners in the past. I think it is worth while calling attention to the fact while we are still discussing Amendments on this Clause.

9.30 p.m.

The Attorney-General:

With the permission of the House, may I deal very shortly with the two matters which have been raised? At the very outset I should like to share with hon. Members opposite the evident pleasure which they naturally give themselves in patting each other on the back. If, sometime later, hon. Members on the Benches opposite desire to form a mutual admiration society of some kind, I wish they would give me the opportunity of coming in and being a vice-president.

Captain Crookshank:

The hon. and learned Gentleman is one already.

The Attorney-General:

In regard to the point raised by the hon. Baronet in his more serious moments, it is a matter which we will certainly bear in mind. In regard to the question raised from this side of the House, I want to make it perfectly clear that in any language I used I had no intention whatever of departing from what was said upstairs.

Captain Crookshank:

May I say what was said upstairs, as the Attorney-General was not in the Committee that day? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I think it is perfectly reasonable that the House should be informed. An hon. Member from the Labour benches moved an Amendment to raise this issue. The Minister said that the furthest he could go was to set up a committee which might report on the subject and that when they did report he might consider what they would do, but in the light of that report it would be open to hon. Members, including the hon. Lady, to make a demand on the Government, if they thought fit, for speedy action.

Miss Lee:

We shall make the demand.

Captain Crookshank:

I have no doubt the hon. Lady will. The right hon. Gentleman gave no undertaking whatever about legislation, because he said that this was not the opportunity for dealing with this intricate and complicated question.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 35, line 30, leave out "shall," and insert: or (b) to pay compensation for, or to make good, by virtue of terms or conditions on or subject to which rights to withdraw support are exercisable, damage arising from acts or omissions so done or occurring, shall, in any case where the cause of action in respect of the breach of the right of support accrues, or the damage to be compensated or made good arises, as the case may be, on or after the primary vesting date.

In page 35, line 33, leave out from the beginning to the end of the Clause.— [Mr. Shinwell.]

CLAUSE 45.—(Provisions as to liability of the Board in actions, etc.)

Captain Crookshank:

I beg to move, in page 36, line 7, to leave out Subsection (2).

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

Clause 45 deals with and regulates actions in the courts against the Coal Board, and I think it is right to make it quite clear at the outset that the greater part of the actions which will be so affected will not be disputes with large companies but, if the past is any evidence at all, the great bulk of them will be actions by injured miners against the Board on the basis of their injury caused by the Board's negligence. It is from that point of view, rather than from the point of view of big companies, who can perfectly well look after themselves, that the House should approach the Amendment. The Amendment is to leave out Subsection (2), which lays down the period of three years during which actions may be brought against the Board. It is necessary, as the House is aware, to prescribe, in general, some period during which actions may be brought. There is, of necessity, a balance of considerations between the risk of denying justice to a plaintiff while, at the same time, seeing to it that actions are not unduly delayed. But I would remind the House, in considering this period of three years which has been put into the Bill, that as recently as 1939 this House dealt with this question over the whole scope of our laws; and the House, as it was in 1939, laid it down that the proper period of limitation for these actions should be six years. It follows that what is being prescribed in this Subsection is a privilege in favour of the Board.

I am well aware, and I have not the slightest doubt that the learned Attorney-General, if he replies—if he manages to get to his feet before the Patronage Secretary—will undoubtedly point out, that under the Public Authorities Protection Act, a period of one year is prescribed. But the House will observe that the Government, in Subsection (I) of this Clause, have gone out of their way to cut the Public Authorities Protection Act out of the Bill, and to lay down that the Coal Board shall not be a public authority for the purpose of that Act. That being so, what the House is being asked to do in this Subsection is to prescribe the unusual period of three years as the maximum during which actions can be brought against the Coal Board, in comparison with a period of six years, which is the normal period. This matter was ventilated in the Standing Committee——

Mr. Gallacher:

And the hon. Gentleman made the same speech.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

I am infinitely obliged to the hon. Member, who made the same interjection. But the hon. Member has not appreciated the fact that to suggest that an hon. Member is making the same speech on two different occasions suggests that he is out of Order on one of them and, therefore, such an interjection would best be made as a point of Order. If he desires to put that point of Order——

Mr. Gallacher:

O.K. Let the hon. Member make his speech.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

If the hon. Member wants to put that point of Order I will bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. Gallacher:

The hon. Member must have it his way. Is it in Order, Sir, for an hon. Member to make a speech in Standing Committee on a particular Amendment, and then to come down here and make exactly the same speech on the same Amendment?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

I am afraid that that is not a point of Order.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

In order to enlighten the hon. Member as to the physical impossibility of my doing what he has suggested I am doing, I would invite the attention of the House to the fact that when this Bill was before the Standing Committee this Clause was not in it. The Clause to which we object was introduced as a result of a Government Amendment introduced in the Committee stage. The House can, therefore, judge between the hon. Member and me. The point of the Amendment is quite clear. The Bill gives a privilege to the Board. That is admitted, and in the Standing Committee—here the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will, no doubt, interject again—the learned Solicitor-General justified that privilege. I will not, unless desired, quote him in extensor, but he did say that the Board, being a public Board, was subject to the disadvantages of a public Board, in that it was liable to be shot at in a way to which private entities were not so vulnerable.

If I understand that not particularly happy observation, it suggests that the Board should be entitled to the protection of a shorter period of limitation because it will be vulnerable. No doubt we shall be told why that is so, but it is not clear to what extent a Board of this kind is more vulnerable than any great corporation, and why it is necessary to be so tender to it, in a way not thought necessary in the case of great public companies like Unilevers and Imperial Chemical Industries. A Board of this kind has large financial resources, and if it comes to a battle in the courts, it can be well and expensively represented, and it may even have the advantage of being represented by the Law Officers of the Crown. The suggestion that, in these circumstances, it is more vulnerable than any other great corporation, is not sustained. That being so, it is for the Government to justify the grounds for this privilege, for privilege it is, in providing a shorter period of limitation. It may be that this short period of limitation will cause injustices, in the case, for example, of a badly injured miner who seeks to bring an action against the Board. I cannot see how any injustice would be caused to the Board by keeping to the six year period, and I hope if this Amendment is not accepted, that we shall be told why the Board is unable to face the same period of limitation as any other great corporation.

There is one further point, which admittedly is of a temporary nature. In the early period of the operation of this Bill, it may work some injustice. Under the preceding Clause, claims against the colliery companies become claims against the Board. The Board takes over the liability of colliery companies in certain respects, and these colliery companies, like ordinary companies, are affected by the limitation period of six years. The effect of this Subsection will be that these claims will be debarred, not after six years as before, but after three years. In one class of case real injustice will be done if this is allowed to stand. Take the case, again of an injured miner, where a claim against a colliery company has been outstanding for four years at the coming into force of this Bill. If this Bill had not been passed, a prospective plaintiff would have had two more years to decide to bring his action, but when this Bill becomes an Act, he is already out of time, and cannot bring his action. That seems a wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs. It is an illustration of the public disadvantage of inserting these fancy periods of limitation which are contrary to the normal law of the land. I hope, as this matter was raised in Committee, and as the Government have had a chance to consider it, they will now say that they can accept the Amendment, and allow the normal period of six years to apply to the Board.

9.45 P.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne):

I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General can give us some reason for this rather unusual discrimination. I think that it would be a mistake to labour the arguments, but it seems to me to require an explanation—I will put it no higher than that—if, in a period like this, we are going to alter the general law of discrimination in favour of the Board. I will not argue about the period of limitation, because there is a lot of controversy about it, but it would appear that, if it is correct to say that the right period of limitation is six years, it should be so for every one, and that, if the right period is three years, it should be three years for everyone, including the Board.

The Attorney-General:

The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) made exactly the same speech before the Standing Committee. It is perfectly true that the matter was fully considered and rejected then.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter:

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will study the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee, he will see that, owing to the fact that this Subsection and the previous Subsection were incorporated in the same Government Amendment, it was not possible to discuss them, or vote upon them, separately. It is, therefore, inaccurate to say that I made the same speech on that occasion.

The Attorney-General:

If the hon. Member had permitted me, I was merely going to say that, although he had advanced substantially the same argument on that occasion, the fact that he has repeated it now only shows a certain lack of intellectual flexibility. We make no complaint about that.

Lieut.-Colonel Thorp (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that this Bill was committed to a Committee, and, as many hon. Members did not have the privilege of hearing the discussion upstairs, surely we are entitled to hear all about it today.

Mr. Speaker:

The Bill was discussed in Committee, and every hon. Member had the right of hearing the arguments that were advanced then.

The Attorney-General:

I do not pretend that the general law with regard to limitations is satisfactory. There are different periods in respect of different categories of persons and different periods in respect of different classes of actions. When we are able to consider matters of law reform—some of the more urgent ones we are already considering—I think this question of limitation of actions generally is a matter to which we shall have to pay some considerable regard, because, undoubtedly, it requires review. In the meantime, the position appears to be a little misunderstood. This Board is a public authority. There is no doubt about that. In doing what we have done here, we have made a very considerable concession. Normally, the period of limitation for an authority of this kind is 12 months. Hitherto, Parliament, for reasons which no doubt commended themselves to successive Houses, took the view that, in the case of actions brought against public authorities, a time limit of 12 months should be provided—and public authorities there mean not only local authorities, but public authorities generally, that is to say, public authorities whose duty it is to carry out public functions imposed upon them by Statute. At first sight, it may have seemed that there was no real reason why this new Board should be placed in a less favourable position than that which was normally provided by Parliament for public authorities generally. On the other hand, we readily conceded that there were reasons for thinking that the period of 12 months was a little short, because, if that period was insisted upon in all cases, it might be that sometimes—not often, I think—persons who had a right of action against the Board would be debarred from pursuing it, because they had not sought their remedy early enough.

In these circumstances we think it right to make a concession in regard to the matter. We felt that the period of six years was too long for a Board of this kind possessing, as hon. Members opposite are so fond of pointing out, unlimited resources, and having the whole State behind it. For that reason it is apt to be shot at, as the learned Solicitor-General put it in the Standing Committee, and perhaps more likely to be shot at than any other corporation however wealthy, because persons who have, or who think they have a grievance or claim against the Board will expect, and quite rightly expect, that the Board will treat them more fairly and more generously, being a State or national organisation, than they might expect to be, treated by private companies however great. So there is always the danger that there will be more actions which may appear frivolous 'and groundless. It is right that the Board should be enabled to know its position at least after a lapse of three years. If persons who have a claim against the Board, who suffer injuries from something done by the Board or by a broken contract or whatever it may be, cannot make up their minds within three years whether or not they want to bring an action against the Board, then they can hardly be heard to complain if, when they do eventually make up their minds, they find themselves barred. That is why we have taken the view here that it would be a fair compromise not to insist on the 12 months, the normal period for public authorities, but to extend the period to three years, which is half way between 12 months or six years, which would normally apply.

Captain Crookshank:

Do I understand that the Minister is not accepting this Amendment?

The Attorney-General:

I know the right hon. and gallant Member is quick enough to grasp my meaning.

Captain Crookshank:

I am quick enough, because the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) made such an appeal that I thought he knew what the answer was going to be. He knew what it ought to be and, in order to give him an opportunity of demonstrating that, we shall proceed to take a decision on this.

Sir Ronald Ross (Londonderry)

It is very encouraging to learn from the learned Attorney-General that he is seriously considering the whole question of the Statute of Limitations, the present position being one which certainly is a little difficult to reconcile with the rather arbitrary periods that are quoted for one case or another. It is not a Party matter at all, and legislation dealing with it will probaby be wecomed by all, assuming that the hon. and learned Gentleman is considering it in the proper atmosphere. I am very puzzled however by this Clause and I do not think we have had from the Attorney-General any reason why the period of three years which he has suggested should be the rule. It is either too short or too long. Why was the period of three years selected? Either the Board is a public body or it is not a public body. If it is a public body, is it a fantastic public body, the like of which we have never seen, and one which therefore, should be taken out of the ordinary line of public bodies? Furthermore, when a body is created by the Government to take the place of the colliery companies and is liable to all their outstanding liabilities, why should it be put in a more favourable position than those colliery companies had in the first instance?

The Attorney-General

said that public bodies were liable to be shot at. So are colliery companies, who have been more shot at in the past than any Government body. What is the basis of suggesting that the Board will be more vulnerable and need to be more protected than colliery companies? It is very puzzling to me. The speech of the Attorney-General contained points which were very welcome to me, but I did not understand why the new nationalised organisation will have frivolous actions brought against it and undue attacks made upon it. Under the nationalisation campaign which is very dear to hon. Members opposite, are we to create a whole lot of bodies which will be more liable to attack than the private organisations, and will a greater number of unjust claims be made against them? If so it is a very serious matter which ought to be considered. At all events, I think there is no basis for the three-year period. The Board should either take on all the liabilities of the private companies which they replace—which I should think would be logical, just, and reasonable—or else they should do something quite different. It will be a public body, protected by the ordinary protection Act of 1893. Is this merely a question of compromising, or is there any real basis in law or on merit which has led to this peculiar and—if I may use the expression—hermaphroditic position being adopted by the Board? I do not think we have had altogether the right guidance which we should have had from the Attorney-General.

Why should the Board need to have more protection or need to fear that more claims will be made upon it by very humble people, than did the original colliery companies, who are sufficiently powerful? There have been many complaints about the difficulties of individuals commencing actions at law against powerful private interests. Now that the companies are to be superseded by a Board, with all the resources of the State behind it; is the Board to be artificially bolstered up by the reduction of the Statute of Limitation? I do not understand why that should be done.

Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)

I have considered the Amendment as carefully as I can, and it is a very serious matter. The speech of the Attorney-General was entirely unconvincing. To talk of different periods of limitation in respect of different classes of action is irrelevant. This Clause is drawing a differential line, because of the nature of the Board. A fundamental principle is involved. The creation of such Boards will go on for a long time, if hon. Members opposite are correct in their forecasts about the future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Then that is all the more reason for my argument if the State is taking over an increasing number of commercial and industrial undertakings.

There may be all the reasons in the world for nationalising every industry in the country, but there is no reason at all why a subject should be deprived of his present rights by reason of that nationalisation. If a man is run down in the street by a Great Western Railway lorry he can sue that company at any time up to six years, but if he is run over by a lorry belonging to the National Coal Board he has to make up his mind within three years. How can that be justified? If there is ground for reviewing the Limitation Act let us consider it, but let us not burk the issue in this way Let not a man outside these Boards be penalised by reason of the fact that the State is taking over commercial and national undertakings.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. John Paton (Norwich)

I want to add my voice to the appeal which has been made to the Attorney-General. I do not want to repeat the arguments which have already been made, but I want to say this: The Attorney-General has told us that he has in prospect a review of the whole question of limitation. If that is so, would it not have been better, in this case, simply to have incorporated a reference to the Limitation Act, 1939, in this Bill, with no proposal for cutting the period down? There is no question of principle or party policy involved in this matter, which touches so definitely the people we on this side particularly represent—the working class. We might have given them the advantage of even the extreme limit which is now laid down under the existing law. The Attorney-General told us that the 12 months period which now applied to public corporations was once extended from six months. I am told by lawyers that judges often severely criticise this period of limitation. There is nothing in this matter which should be made to cause Members on these benches to search their consciences as to whether they can wholeheartedly support the Government. I ask the Attorney-General to listen to our appeal.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

I wish to support the plea made so eloquently by the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Paton). The Attorney-General has said that he contemplates revising the general law of the Limitation Act and he suggested that this provision had to be put into the Bill because, if it were not, the normal provisions applicable to a public authority would apply. That may be his view now, but it was certainly not the view of the advisers of the Government when the Bill was drafted, because if the normal law applicable to public authorities had been applicable to this Board, there would have been no need whatever to have the original Clause 44 in the Bill. It was certainly a question of doubt whether or not this was a public authority.

If the general law is to be revised, it may well be that this body should be dealt with in some other way from the normal six-year limitation period applicable to any trading concern; but this is a trading concern, and we are constantly being reminded of that fact by the Attorney-General and the Minister of Fuel and Power. Whenever we have suggested that the powers of this body should be limited or curtailed in some way, we have always been met by the argument, "This is a trading concern which should be dealt with in that respect as any other trading concern." Why in this instance should it be dealt with in a wholly novel and new way that cuts across the law, which was, after all revised and brought up to date as recently as 1939? I suggest that there is a reason. That reason is that this is the beginning of a new era. This is the beginning of the era of bureaucracy. This is ostensibly the first blow struck by this Government in favour of setting up a privileged bureaucracy. It may not, indeed, be the first blow, but it is the most obvious that has yet been struck. It is a most notable fact that in Committee the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) and this evening other hon. Members from the Party opposite, have protested against the Government which they support.

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. Member's remarks are hardly relevant to the Amendment.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth:

I bow to your Ruling, Sir. I wish to protest against the inclusion of this Subsection in the Clause, and for the reasons I have given, I hope the House will accept the Amendment.

Mr. R. J. Taylor (Lord of the Treasury)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 317; Noes, 138.

Division 168.] AYES. [8.45 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Fairhurst, F.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Cluse, W. S. Farthing, W. J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cobb, F. A Follick, M.
Alpass, J. H. Coldrick, W Foot, M. M.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Collick, P. Forman, J. C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Collindridge, F. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Attewell, H. C. Collins, V. J. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Awbery, S. S. Colman, Miss G. M. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
Ayles, W. H. Comyns, Dr. L. Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Cook, T F. Gaitskell, H. T. N
Bacon, Miss A. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Gallacher, W.
Baird, Capt. J. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Balfour, A. Corlett, Dr. J. George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A.[...] Corvedale, Viscount Gibbins, J.
Barstow, P. G Cove, W. G. Gibson, C. W
Barton, O. Daines, P. Gilzean, A.
Battley, J. R. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Bechervaise, A. E. Davies, Harold (Leek) Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)
Belcher, J. W. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Grenfell, D. R.
Bellenger, F. J. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Grey, C. F.
Benson, G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Grierson, E.
Berry, H. Deer, G. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Beswick, F. de Freitas, Geoffrey Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Delargy, Captain H. J. Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Diamond, J. Guest, Dr. L Haden
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Dobbie, W. Gunter, Capt. R. J.
Blyton, W. R. Dodds, N. N. Guy, W. H.
Boardman, H. Donovan, T. Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)
Bottomley, A. G. Douglas, F. C. R. Hale, Leslie
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Driberg, T. E. N. Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)
Bowen, R. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Dumpleton, C. W. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Durbin, E. F. M. Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Dye, S. Hardy, E. A.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Harrison, J.
Brown, George (Belper) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Haworth, J.
Buchanan, G. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Burden, T. W. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Burke, W. A. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Herbison, Miss M
Byers, Lt.-Col. F. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Hicks, G.
Callaghan, James Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hobson, C. R.
Champion, A. J. Ewart, R. Holman, P.
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Mort, D. L. Sorensen, R. W.
Hoy, J. Moyle, A. Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Hubbard, T. Murray, J. D Sparks, J. A.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Nally, W Stamford, W.
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'lverh'pton W.) Naylor, T. E. Steele, T.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Stephen, C.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Irving, W. J. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Strachey, J.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Noel-Buxton, Lady Stross, Dr. B.
Janner, B. Oldfield, W. H. Stubbs, A. E.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Oliver, G. H. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Orbach, M. Swingler, S.
John, W. Paget, R. T. Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Pargiter, G. A. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Parker, J. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Keenan, W. Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Kenyon, C. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
King, E. M. Paton, J. (Norwich) Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Pearl, Capt. T. F. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Kinley, J. Perrins, W. Thurtle, E.
Kirby, B. V. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Tiffany, S.
Lang, G. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Timmons, J.
Lavers, S. Popplewell, E. Titterington, M. F.
Lee, F. (Hulme) Porter, E. (Warrington) Tolley, L.
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Porter, G. (Leeds) Turner-Samuels, M.
Leslie, J. R. Price, M. Philips Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Lever, Fl. Off. N. H. Pritt, D. N. Usborne, Henry
Levy, B. W. Proctor, W. T. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Pryde, D. J. Viant, S. P.
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wadsworth, G.
Lindgren, G. S. Ranger, J. Walkden, E.
Lipson, D. L. Rankin, J. Walker, G. H.
Logan, D. G. Reeves, J. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Lyne, A. W. Reid, T. (Swindon) Warbey, W. N.
McAdam, W. Rhodes, H. Watson, W. M.
McEntee, V. La T. Richards, R. Weitzman, D.
McGhee, H. G Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Mack, J. D. Robens, A. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
McKay. J. (Wallsend) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
McKinlay, A. S. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Maclean, N. (Govan) Rogers, G. H. R. Wigg, Col. G. E.
McLeavy, F. Royle, C. Wilcock, Group-Capt C A. B
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Sargood, R. Wilkes, Maj. L.
Mainwaring, W. H. Scollan, T. Wilkins, W. A.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Scott-Elliot, W. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Mann, Mrs. J. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Marquand, H. A. Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williamson, T.
Medland, H. M. Shurmer, P. Willis, E.
Middleton, Mrs. L. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Wills, Mrs. E. A
Mikardo, Ian Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Wilson, J. H.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Skeffington, A. M. Wise, Major F. J
Monslow, W. Skinnard, F. W. Woodburn, A.
Montague, F. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester) Woods, G. S
Moody, A. S. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Yates, V. F.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Morley, R. Smith, S. H. (Hull. S.W.) Zilliacus, K.
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Smith, T. (Normanton)
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Snow, Capt. J. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Solley, L. J. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons
NOES
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)
Astor, Hon. M. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)
Baldwin, A. E. Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Gage, Lt.-Col. C.
Barlow, Sir J. Cuthbert, W. N. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Davidson, Viscountess George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)
Bennett, Sir P. Digby, Maj. S. W. Gomme-Duncan, Col A G
Bossom, A. C. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Gridley, Sir A.
Bower, N. Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. Grimston, R. V.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)
Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G. Duthie, W. S. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Eccles, D. M. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Butcher, H. W. Erroll, F. J. Hogg, Hon. Q.
Carson, E. Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Howard, Hon. A
Clarke, Col. R. S. Fletcher, W. (Bury) Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Hurd, A
Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'h'rgh W.) Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S (Cirencester) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Neven-Spence, Sir B Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Jarvis, Sir J. Nield, B. (Chester) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Jeffreys, General Sir G Orr-Ewing, I. L Studholme, H. G.
Jennings, R. Pickthorn, K. Sutcliffe, H.
Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Pitman, I. J. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Keeling, E. H. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'I'n, S.)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Prescott, Stanley Teeling, William
Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Linstead, H. N. Prior-Palmer. Brig. O. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Raikes, H. V. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Rayner, Brig. R. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Lucas, Major Sir J. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury) Touche, G. C
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Renton, D. Turton, R. H.
MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall) Vane, W. M. T.
McCallum, Maj. D. Ropner, Col. L. Walker-Smith, D.
Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight) Ross, Sir R. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R. Sanderson, Sir F. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Maclay, Hon. J. S. Scott, Lord W. Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster) Shephard, S. (Newark) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Manningham-Buller, R. E. Snadden, W. M.
Marples, A. E. Spearman, A. C. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Spence, H. R. Sir Arthur Young and
Mellor, Sir J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Mr. Drewe.
Molson, A. H. E. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Division No. 169.] AYES. [10.10 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Cook, T. F. Grierson, E.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Corlett, Dr. J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Alpass, J. H. Daggar, G. Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Daines, P. Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Davies, Edward (Burslem) Gunter, Capt. R. J.
Attewell, H. C. Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Guy, W. H.
Awbery, S. S. Davies, Harold (Leek) Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)
Ayles, W. H. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hale, Leslie
Ayrton Gould, Mrs B Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)
Bacon, Miss A. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)
Baird, Capt. J. Deer, G. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Balfour, A. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Delargy, Captain H. J Hardy, E A.
Barstow, P. G. Diamond, J. Harrison, J.
Barton, C. Dobbie, W. Hastings, Dr Somerville
Battley, J. R. Dodds, N. N. Haworth, J.
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Donovan, T Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Bechervaise. A. E. Douglas, F. C. R. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Belcher, J. W. Driberg, T. E. N. Herbison, Miss M
Benson, G. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hicks, G.
Berry, H. Durbin, E. F. M. Hobson, C R.
Beswick, F. Dye, S. Holman, P.
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Binns. J. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Horabin, T. L
Blackburn, A. R. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Hoy, J.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A Edwards, John (Blackburn) Hubbard, T.
Blyton, W. R. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Boardman, H. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Bottomley, A. G. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hughes, Lt, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Ewart, R. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Fairhurst, F Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Farthing, W. J. Irving, W. J.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Follick, M. Janner, B.
Brown, George (Belper) Foot, M. M. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Forman, J. C. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Buchanan, G. Foster, W. (Wigan) John, W.
Burden, T. W. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Burke, W. A. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Champion, A. J Freeman, Peter (Newport) Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Chater, D. Gaitskell, H. T. N. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Gallacher, W. Keenan, W.
Clitherow, Dr. R. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Kenyon, C.
Cluse, W. S. Gibbins, J. King, E. M.
Cobb, F. A. Gibson, C. W. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Cocks, F. S. Gilzean, A. Kinley, J.
Coldrick, W. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Kirby, B. V.
Collick, P. Gordon-Walker, P. C. Lang, G.
Collindridge, F. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Lavers, S.
Collins, V. J. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Lee, F. (Hulme)
Colman, Miss G. M. Grenfell, D. R. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Comyns, Dr. L. Grey, C. F. Leslie, J. R.
Lever, Fl. Off. N. H. Pearson, A. Stubbs, A. E.
Levy, B. W. Pearl, Capt. T. F. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Perrins, W. Swingler, S.
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Piratin, P. Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Logan, D. G. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Lyne, A. W. Popplewell, E. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
McAdam, W. Porter, E. (Warrington) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
McEntee, V. La T. Porter, G. (Leeds) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
McGhee, H. G. Price, M. Philips Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Mack, J. D. Pritt, D. N. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Proctor, W. T. Thurtle, E.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Pryde, D. J. Tiffany, S.
McKinlay, A. S. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Timmons, J.
Maclean, N. (Govan) Ranger, J. Titterington, M. F
McLeavy, F. Rankin, J. Tolley, L.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Reeves, J. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Mainwaring, W. H. Reid, T. (Swindon) Turner-Samuels, M.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Rhodes, H. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Mann, Mrs. J. Richards, R. Usborne, Henry
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Robens, A. Viant, S. P.
Marquand, H. A. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Walkden, E.
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Walker, G. H.
Medland, H. M. Rogers, G. H. R. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Royle, C. Warbey, W. N.
Mikardo, Ian Sargood, R. Watson, W. M.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Scolian, T. Weitzman, D.
Monslow, W. Scott-Elliot, W. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Moody, A. S. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Morley, R. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Wigg, Col. G. E.
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Mort, D. L. Shurmer, P. Wilkes, Maj. L.
Murray, J. D. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Wilkins, W. A.
Nally, W. Silverman, J. (Erdington) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Skeffington, A. M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brantford) Skinnard, F. W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir B. (Rotherhithe) Williamson, T.
Noel-Buxton, Lady Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester) Willis, E.
Oldfield, W. H. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Wills, Mrs. E. A
Oliver, G H. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.) Wilson, J. H.
Orbach, M. Smith, T. (Normanton) Wise, Major F. J
Paget, R. T. Snow, Capt. J. W. Woodburn, A.
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Solley, L. J. Woods, G. S.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Sorensen, R. W Yates, V. F.
Pargiter, G. A. Sparks, J. A. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Parker, J. Stamford, W. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. l. Steele, T. Zilliacus, K.
Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Stokes, R. R.
Paton, J. (Norwich) Strachey, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stross, Dr. B. Captain Michael Stewart and Mr Simmons
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P G. Duthie, W. S. Jarvis, Sir J.
Assheton, Rt Hon. R. Eccles, D. M. Jeffreys, General Sir G.
Astor, Hon. M Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Jennings, R.
Baldwin, A. E. Erroll, F. J. Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.
Barlow, Sir J. Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Keeling, E. H.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Fletcher, W. (Bury) Lambert, Hon. G.
Bennett, Sir P. Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bossom, A. C. Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. Lindsay, M. (Solihull)
Bowen, R. Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Lipson, D. L.
Bower, N. Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Gage, Lt.-Col. C. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Low, Brig. A. R. W.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Lucas, Major Sir J.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
Butcher, H. W. Glossop, C. W. H. McCallum, Maj. D.
Byers, Lt.-Col. F Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)
Carson, E. Gridley, Sir A. Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R.
Challen, C. Grimston, R. V. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Haughton, S. G. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Cuthbert, W. N. Hogg, Hon Q. Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Davidson, Viscountess Howard, Hon A. Marples, A. E.
Digby, Maj. S. W. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hurd, A. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'n'tgh W.) Mellor, Sir J.
Drewe, C. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Molson, A. H. E.
Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Ross, Sir R. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Neven-Spence, Sir B. Sanderson, Sir F. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Nield, B. (Chester) Scott, Lord W. Touche, G. C.
Orr-Ewing, I. L. Shepherd, S. (Newark) Turton, R. H.
Osborne, C. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. Vane, W. M. T
Pickthorn, K. Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Wadsworth, G.
Pitman, I. J. Snadden, W. M. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Spearman, A. C M. Walker-Smith, D.
Prescott, Stanley Spence, H. R. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Raikes, H. V. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Rayner, Brig. R. Sutcliffe, H. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Renton, D. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecelesall) Thomson, Sir D. (Aberdeen, S.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Ropner, Col. L Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) Major Conant and Mr. Studholme.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 312; Noes, 137.

Division No. 170.] AYES. [10.20 p.m
Adams, Richard (Balham) Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hardy, E. A.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Harrison, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, Harold (Leek) Hastings, Dr Somerville
Alpass, J. H Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Haworth, J.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Deer, G. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Attewell, H C. de Freitas, Geoffrey Herbison, Miss M
Awbery, S. S. Delargy, Captain H. J Hicks, G.
Ayles, W. H. Diamond, J. Hobson, C. R.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Dobbie, W. Holman, P.
Bacon, Miss A. Dodds, N. N. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Baird, Capt. J. Donovan, T. Horabin, T. L
Balfour, A. Douglas, F. C. R. Hoy, J.
Barnes, Rt Hon A J. Driberg, T. E. N. Hubbard, T.
Barstow, P G Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Barton, C. Durbin, E. F. M. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Battley, J. R. Dye, S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.)
Bechervaise, A. E. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Belcher, J. W. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Benson, G. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Irving, W. J
Berry, H. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Janner, B.
Beswick, F. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Binns, J. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) John, W.
Blackburn, A. R Ewart, R. Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Blenkinsop, Capt A Fairhurst, F. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Blyton, W. R. Farthing, W. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Boardman. H. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Bottomley, A. G. Follick, M. Keenan, W.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Forman, J. C. Kenyon, C.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Foster, W. (Wigan) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Kinley, J.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Kirby, B V
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Freeman, Peter (Newport) Lang, G.
Brown, George (Belper) Gaitskell, H. T. N. Lavers, S.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gallacher, W. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Buchanan, G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Burden, T. W Gibbins, J. Leslie, J. R.
Burke, W. A. Gibson, C. W Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.
Champion, A. J Gilzean, A. Levy, B. W.
Chater, D. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R Gordon-Walker, P. C. Lewis, J (Bolton)
Clitherow, Dr. R Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Lindgren, G. S.
Cluse, W. S. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Cobb, F. A Grenfell, D. R Logan, D. G
Cocks, F. S. Grey, C. F. Lyne, A W.
Coldrick, W. Grierson, E. McAdam, W
Collick, P. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La l
Collindridge, F. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Mack, J. D
Collins, V. J. Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Colman, Miss G. M. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)
Comyns. Dr. L. Gunter, Capt. R. J. McKinley, A. S.
Cook, T. F. Guy, W. H. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) McLeavy, F.
Corlett, Dr. J Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Crawley. Flt.-Lieut. A. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Mainwaring, W. H.
Daggar, G Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mallalieu, J P. W.
Daines, P. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)

CLAUSE 54.—(Provision as to offences.)

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Erroll:

I beg to move, in page 38, line 41, to leave out from "thereunder," to the end of the Clause, and to insert: committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of any director or officer of the body corporate or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

This Clause establishes a very important principle, particularly in Subsection (2), which is the subject of this Amendment. The principle in the Clause as it now stands is that a director or an officer shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence unless he is able to prove that the contravention, if I may quote the words of the Clause: was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised. As it now stands, therefore, one or more directors may be deemed guilty in their personal capacity, unless they are able to prove their innocence. In many affairs in a company, it will be extremely difficult for a director to prove his innocence, or necessarily to prove that he exercised all such diligence as he should have exercised. Many of the transactions which take place in company offices are carried out by word of mouth, or such records as there may be might be very scanty indeed. In really serious cases a director might have destroyed written evidence which an innocent and prudent director had previously recorded. Perhaps written documents which the innocent party may wish to have by him to prove his innocence have been removed. There may be no satisfactory evidence to establish the innocence of the party concerned. Apart from this, there is a large number of regulations now governing the conduct of companies, and it is very easy for a director—for example, a director of personnel— to find that he is technically guilty of an offence which in fact has been committed by one of his clerks. Let me give an example. The Minister of Labour may demand a return of employees, to be made weekly or monthly. The director concerned may have informed the manager or chief clerk, but no action has been taken. The director, together with the firm, is then guilty, although the director himself may have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that in that part of the organisation for which he is responsible, the Ministry's regulations and instructions were properly carried out. I am not suggesting, in my Amendment, that the company, or body corporate, as a whole should, thereby, be let off, because I regard as a serious matter in itself that the directors of the body should be collectively charged with the offence, and it is obviously not common sense that an individual director should be charged unless his particular guilt is proved.

Personally, I should like to see the whole of Subsection (2) deleted, but I appreciate that that would be too much to expect of the Government. I understand that the insertion of a similar Clause was attempted by the draftsmen in the Water Bill of 1945, but then we had a rather different Government, who saw clearly the arguments put forward, and this reprehensible provision was in that case deleted, I believe, on Report or in Committee. I have therefore attempted a moderate—I hope everyone will agree that it is moderate—compromise by adopting the precedent established in one or two other Acts where a Clause similar to that which will be in this Bill if my Amendment is accepted has been inserted. If the learned Attorney-General will look at the Coal Mines Act of 1938, Section 54; or the Civil Defence Act of 1939, Section 78; or again, more recently, at the Nurses Act of 1943, Section 7, he will find a wording very similar to that which I propose, and which does satisfactorily overcome the serious objections to which this Clause as it now stands is open. I hope I have made out a good case for the Government's consideration, and that they will view the matter with favour, and accept the Amendment.

Colonel Clarke:

I beg to second the Amendment.

I feel it is an Amendment which will commend itself to all sides of the House, because it is an accepted principle of British justice that a man has to be proved guilty, and that until he is proved guilty he is considered to be innocent. Further, I would like to point out that in this Bill there are more than 20 Clauses providing for regulations being made. So the number of offences which it will be possible to commit will be legion. We may be told that there is a precedent for this and I am aware that under Section 75 of the Coal Mines Act of 1911, provisions of this kind exist. But I would remind the Attorney-General that it has been protested against time and time again, and has been an outstanding injustice for many years. I see no reason why this Bill, which is supposed to open up a great new era of nationalisation with all its promised benefits, should be based upon an injustice of this sort.

Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)

I would urge the Government to stand by this Clause for a good many reasons. It is suggested that there is little precedent for it. In fact, I have seen such a provision as this operated under the regulations of the Food Ministry in the police courts of London. It appeared to work very well in the public interest. The directors of the companies involved were invariably strongly against it, and, indeed, briefed counsel to see if they could keep out of gaol; but everyone else approved of it. Nor is it right to say that this Clause violates the accepted principle that a man should be deemed innocent until he is proved guilty. If you prove a limited company guilty of offences, and you agree that a limited company must act by somebody and assume (a) that the directors are compos mentis and (b) that they take some part in the management, is it unreasonable to say that if the company commits offences, the directors ought to know about them, and should be dealt with accordingly? Some countries carry that principle much further. In cases of bank frauds in Belgium, all the directors are put into gaol straight away, and come out, one by one, when they can prove their innocence. We do not propose to do that; we are proposing, first, to prove that an offence has been committed by the body corporate, and we then say to the directors "If this is the way the company behaves when you are directing it, show you are innocent—not just innocent by being at Monte Carlo at the time, but innocent by not having anything to do with it yourself, and also by having taken precautions."

The mover of the Amendment said an innocent director might be short of the very documents needed to prove his innocence because a guilty director had destroyed them. Of course, anything might be possible, but in general the director would prove his innocence, not by producing any particular document, but by showing that he had nothing to do with it, and that he did his best to run the company properly. If he wants to produce some document which he wrote for his own protection, say to give his co-directors some warning against their conduct, his secretary will tell him that it is quite a good idea to keep a carbon copy.

Mr. Erroll:

Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that it is possible to destroy carbon copies as well as the original.

Mr. Pritt:

Surely a gentleman who had enough intelligence to see to it that there were documents which showed he was trying to keep himself in the right, and sufficient intelligence to know that his co-directors were crooks, would keep the carbon copies at home. Is the principle of the Clause not a very salutary principle indeed when a device—sometimes very useful for dishonest purposes—exists for creating an artificial personality, a company, and then saying that that is what you can prosecute? Is it not a very good thing indeed that the Government can say to the directors: "If you have companies like that you should keep them straight, and if you cannot keep them straight then you go to gaol as well"?

10.45 p.m.

The Attorney-General:

We have given careful consideration to the general question of whether the onus of proof should be thrown on directors and officers of companies in this way. The unhappy fact is that sometimes people will use companies as a cloak, or shield, behind which they commit offences with impunity. We have consulted those who have had a great deal of experience of prosecutions in these matters during the war and for long years before it. This experience has shown that while under the existing law there is the greatest difficulty in securing convictions of Directors and Officers whom there is every reason to believe have committed offences when those Directors are compelled to disclose the facts within their knowledge no doubt is left of their guilt. We have to consider whether it is right to incur the certainty that a large number of directors and officers of companies will escape liability for offences committed by their companies with their full knowledge and consent and concurrence. We have decided it would not be right to accept that situation.

Other Governments who had had to consider this subject before have come to a similar conclusion. The hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) has pointed out that in much legistion, regulations such as these have been included, and no doubt the Government of the time thought it was impossible to enforce the law unless this responsibility was put on directors and officers of companies. During the period between the two wars, Governments—some of them Tory Governments—on a number of occasions found it necessary to embody this provision in legislation which they passed. I have traced ten such instances. Nor are the present Government introducing it for the first time. As recently as last week it was included in the Borrowing (Control of Investments) Bill. While it is true that English law generally, and it is, I think, unique in this respect, places onus on the prosecution, there are many precedents the other way. In cases where, as here, the facts must be peculiarly within the knowledge of the person it is sought to make liable, it is not in the interests of justice that they should escape, because the prosecution cannot prove what was in their minds. The innocent have nothing to fear, and the guilty need no protection. When persons accept office as directors of companies they ought to take upon themselves the burden of making reasonably sure that their companies conform to the law. There is no need for the House to be unduly squeamish about what we call "guinea-pig" directors, and others who accept directorship with complete indifference, so long as fees continue to be paid. We take the view, and it is the view of the Cohen Committee, that directors must take all reasonable care to know that their companies conform to the law.

I would deal with one other point which has been raised by the hon. Member opposite. He suggested that a director dealing with personnel matters, for instance, might find himself saddled with liability for some offence which had arisen in a completely different department of the company. If hon. Members look at the Clause, they will see that the director is liable only if he fails to prove that the offence alleged took place: …without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and to all the circumstances. If he could show that this was a large concern, that he was a personnel director, that there was a division of responsibilities in the company and that one director looked after one matter and another director looked after another, then I do not doubt the court would come to the conclusion that he had discharged the onus which was upon him. The view of the Government on this matter is that this Clause provides ample safeguard and is essential to the proper working of the Bill and the proper enforcement of the liabilities which directors ought properly to undertake.

Several Hon. Members

rose

Mr. Speaker:

I really hoped that the House would now come to a decision. I was given to understand there was a desire to close this discussion very soon. Unless there is some restriction on discussion, I hardly know which Amendments I can select on a future occasion. I must warn the House.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

Despite the warning which we have just received, I desire to put a point to the learned Attorney-General. It appears to me there is a point with which he has not dealt. This is a matter of quite reasonable importance which this House ought to discuss. It is perfectly true that there is a great deal to be said for imposing a burden of proof upon directors of companies for one class of offence, but it does not follow that that burden of proof ought to be imposed for every class of offence. A good deal depends upon the type of offence, in considering whether or not it is desirable to impose the burden of proof. It is clear that under the food regulations and under the factory regulations, with which most of us are familiar, it is necessary in many cases to impose an absolute liability, or burden of proof, upon those responsible for the functioning and working of a company. A clear example would be the provision of safety regulations in factories. There is another type of offence in regard to which I think that my hon. Friends are urging a reasonable point of view. That is the type of offence in which the actual nature of the crime imposes a moral stigma, affecting the reputation for honesty or dishonesty of the person who is attacked.

It is, I think, of vital importance, not to the directors but to the general prestige of the law in these matters, that a person should not be charged with or of a crime of dishonesty unless it can be proved that he personally has been so guilty. Therefore I feel certain that in the long run the law will not gain by any such provision as is here proposed. It is of vital importance that those convicted of crimes involving dishonesty should be treated by society as having in fact been guilty. If it once gets abroad that those who have been charged and convicted of crimes which impute moral dishonesty, are not themselves guilty—for whatever reason and however good the motives may have been behind those who passed legislation having that effect—the general prestige of the law will be greatly diminished. Therefore, I hope the learned Attorney-General and the Government, if they will not make some concession in this respect, will at any rate bear in mind, in framing regulations, that no crimes of dishonesty should be created in legislative enactments, where provisions of this kind are the rule. Otherwise I can see evil consequences for the criminal law, and for the general respect with which it is regarded by the population.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan:

May I raise one point before we leave Clause 54? So far we have heard only about what can or cannot happen in respect of the law in England; England is specifically men- tioned in this Clause. Although the Lord Advocate is not present, I would like to ask what is the situation in regard to the law of Scotland.

The Attorney-General:

We have not found it necessary to make alterations in the law of Scotland because the same provisions do not exist in that law. In answer to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), I want to state quite clearly, categorically and deliberately that I am not prepared to put crimes of dishonesty in a special category in regard to this matter. We take the view that breaches of regulations such as the food regulations, regulations which have been imposed in the interests of the nation as a whole, are morally just as reprehensible as other offences of a dishonest kind.

Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)

rose——

Mr. Speaker:

I think we might now come to a decision.

Amendment negatived.

CLAUSE 57.—(Provisions as to regulations.)

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 39, line 42, after "made," to insert: (whether by the Minister or by the Treasury).

Clause 57 gives a regulation making power, and provides for the regulations to be laid and made the subject of a negative Prayer. This and the following Amendments are primarily drafting Amendments to clarify the Clause, making it clear that only the Minister or the Treasury have any power to make regulations.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In line 43, after "Act," insert (in this section referred to, in relation to the regulations in question, as 'the authorising enactment').

In page 39, line 44, leave out "that provision," and insert "the authorising enactment."

In page 40, line 5, at the end, insert: which may arise in giving effect to the regulations.

In line 9, at the end, insert "such."— [The Attorney-General.]

11.0 p.m.

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 40, line 14, after "costs," to insert: of proceedings for the determination of such questions.

This also is a drafting Amendment. It restricts the power in regard to costs.

Amendment agreed to.

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 40, line 17, after "enactments," to insert: inconsistent with the provision to be made for the purposes of the authorising enactment.

Captain Crookshank:

This is certainly more, in my view, than a drafting Amendment, because this is the horrid little Clause which appears in so many Bills giving power by regulation to amend or modify enactments. In Committee we urged that the enactments which could be amended by regulation should be those which concern this legislation, and that is exactly what has been done. I think that is rather more than drafting. It is good enough, however, and very welcome to us on this side of the House, and I hope the Government will adopt it in drafting other Bills in which this horrid little Clause as I have described it appears.

Amendment agreed to.

Consequential Amendments made.

CLAUSE 58.—(Interpretation.)

Amendments made: In page 41, line 22, leave out from "aforesaid" to the end of line 26.

In page 42, line 15, leave out from "means", to the end of the line.—[The Attorney-General.]

Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)

I beg to move in page 42, line 46, at the end, to insert: and such individual shall be entitled to lease or sell his right to work coal to such other person as may be approved by the Board.

I hope the House will bear with me while I raise a local matter concerning my constituency. There happen to be, in my constituency, a number of people known as "free miners," who, under an old Act of 1838—the Forest of Dean Mines Act—have certain rights which go back to Tudor times—a right to have a certain part of certain royalties on coal mines worked in the Forest. They share these royalties with the Crown—a halfpenny per ton to the free miners, and 3d. per ton to the Crown. No question is raised here concerning those coal mines, which are likely to be worked in future by the Coal Board as they were worked in the past by the colliery companies. They will go on as before, and the State and the free miners will get their royalties. The Minister as a result of representations made by me has very kindly inserted this Subsection in the Clause giving the free miners the right to continue to draw this royalty and not to be regarded as a colliery company. Therefore they will continue as before.

There is one point I should like to make clear. On the edge of the coalfields in the Forest of Dean there are a number of outcrop workings. Quite a considerable amount of coal is produced by these workings, amounting to 5 per cent. of the production of coal in the Forest of Dean. It is impossible for the Board to take over these workings. They are not worked by the large colliery companies, but perhaps by half a dozen men who are probably relatives. It is not always possible that free miners are able to work them, and if that were the case, the provisions which the Minister has made would be sufficient. What we wish to be sure of is that if a free miner is unable to work, he shall be entitled under the 1838 Act, as hitherto, to let or sell his right to some other person. There are thus two persons concerned—the free miner, and the person who is working the coal for the free miner, or has bought the right from him. I should explain that under ancient custom a free miner is a person born within the Hundred of St. Briavels who has worked for a year and a day in the Forest of Dean coalfield. It may be that the free miner is not able to work the coal, and the person who is working the coal has not been born within the Hundred of St. Briavels and worked for a year and a day in the Forest of Dean coalfield. I want to make sure that the ancient right will be preserved, and that the free miner who needs this right will be able to let or sell to any person. I am moving this Amendment in order to obtain clarification on the matter.

Colonel Clarke:

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. Shinwell:

I can assure my hon. Friend that his constituents who are free miners will be adequately safeguarded. It must be kept in mind that the right to work coal is vested in the National Coal Board Subject to that exclusive right being exercised and accepted, the "galees" will be entitled as individuals to operate their "gales," or, if they are so disposed, to let or sell the gales to other parties. It will be understood that these parties can operate these gales subject to a licence being granted by the Board. As regards the halfpenny per ton, that will be continued.

Mr. Price:

In view of that explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

CLAUSE 59.—(Application to Scotland.)

Amendment made: In page 43, line 32, leave out the first "the ", and insert "any".—[Mr. Shinwell.]

FIRST SCHEDULE.—(Assets to be transferred to the Board.)

Amendment made: In page 44, line 12, after "in," insert "unworked."—[The Attorney-General.]

Mr. H. Macmillan:

I beg to move, in page 44, line 18, to leave out from "activities," to the end of line 21.

Major Roberts:

I want to return once more to the attack on behalf of the coke oven industry of this country. It has been said by the Lord President of the Council that it is the duty of the nationalisers to prove their case. I ask the Minister to state again what his reasons really are. So far he has given no proper reasons. There are many thousands of people who will be affected by the decision he is going to make. On the Second Reading, two reasons were put forward very briefly by the Minister. One was that there were profitable ancillary assets, and the other was that there was a great future for this industry. Those were the only reasons which he gave. When we got into Committee, we were able to probe those reasons, and I think that it was generally agreed that the question of moving over the ancillary profits from the coal industry to the coke industry was a fallacy.

I was sorry to hear today the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) once again bring up that old point. I am glad to see that he is in his place. I say that that is not a legitimate reason, because for every 200 tons of coal produced by the coal industry, only 10 tons go to the coke ovens owned by the colliery concerns, and to suggest that big profits from those 200 tons can be passed on through those ten tons is absurd. On top of that, there are the joint accountants who are there to watch. Having been driven from that position, the next position which the Minister took up was most extraordinary. He produced, for the first time, the suggestion that the coke oven industry in this country was inefficient, and he used, to back his case, the following quotation: The Dutch and German experts in coke oven operations condemned the industry, and said it was not up to date. It requires considerable reorganisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 9th April, 1946; c. 816.]

That is one of the most dangerous statements that the Minister has ever made. First of all, I suggest that it is an inaccurate description of the industry, and secondly, that this country depends—and I hope it will continue to depend—on coke exports; and on the heavy engineering side a lot depends on the production of coke ovens. If the responsible Minister is going to take Dutch and German evidence against the industry in this country, I think he will do a great deal of harm, because, in point of fact, there was a report which came back from Germany quite recently—and I think the Minister has seen it—in which our people stated that we had nothing to learn from the Germans. If the Socialist Government are going to take industry by industry, and try to belittle these British industries for their own political ends, we shall be in a very sorry state. I put this most seriously, because I say here and now, quite definitely, that the coke oven industry of this country is a very efficient industry, and did a very good job of work during the war. Allegations of this kind are harmful and unnecessary.

11.15 p.m.

As I say, the onus is upon the Government to show us some good reason for these proposals. They have moved from position to position, from profit to profit, and from efficiency to inefficiency, and I am still waiting to hear, and I suggest the country is still waiting to hear, some reasonable argument on this point. Coal has the Reid Report, and we have had some suggestions for the reorganisation of that industry and on what lines it may go, but there is no such report as regards the coke ovens. No concrete suggestion has yet been put forward. During the long proceedings, I have been waiting, day after day, and hour after hour, hoping to hear some constructive suggestion of how the Minister proposed to increase coke oven efficiency and what the reorganisation is going to be. We have not heard one word, and it is very incumbent upon the Minister, before he takes any step, to give us some idea of what is in his mind. What is the plan which our great planners are performing? First of all, part of this great industry is to be put under the Coal Board, part of it is to be left to private enterprise and part of it is to be handed over to the iron and steel industry. It seems to me that the coke oven industry, which has done great work under its own banner, so to speak, is to be split up under these various masters, and that must inevitably lead to muddle and inefficiency. I have a certain amount of experience in this industry, and I must warn the Miniser most seriously that, if he is going to split it up, it cannot have a good effect, but will have rather a deterrent effect.

Since the Committee sat the arguments of the Minister, as far as I have been able to understand them, have been weakened by the statement which was made over Easter that the Government intended to nationalise the iron and steel industry. Before that date there was some doubt upon this subject: certain of the coke ovens were to be given to the Coal Board, some left under private enterprise, and some given to the iron and steel industry. But we now have a suggestion before us that the iron and steel industry is to be nationalised. That may eventually come or it may not, but it is for another day. I hope it will never come. I say seriously that, if it comes, it will be disastrous for one of our fundamental basic industries. If it does happen, and if the principle is accepted, as it may be accepted, the coke industry, too, is going to be nationalised. I am opposed to that. Again, I put it in all seriousness to the Minister, in the interests of the efficiency of the industry. "Do not do it in that way, in three or four little pieces." Surely, if the Government have decided to nationalise the iron and steel industry, let the coke oven industry as a whole be nationalised, instead of dealing with it in this hotch-potch sort of way. No reasonable answer has been given to the problem. It may be that the Parliamentary Secretary can assist us. The Minister so far has been unable to assist us, but a new brain might be able to. We have had no constructive argument yet. The onus is upon the Government to prove their case and I submit that they have not done so.

Mr. Jennings:

I would like to support my hon. Friend in this Amendment. I do so, because, having been privileged to sit on the Committee, I never heard any other sound reason from the right hon. Gentleman as to why he wanted the coke ovens than that he wanted the profits, and it was a very profitable side to add to coal.

Mr. Gallacher:

And a very good one, too.

Mr. Jennings:

If the Minister's only reason why he wants this side of the coke oven industry is that he wants the profits, then he cannot he very happy that he is going to make a profit on the coal side of the industry. It seems to me that he is taking them over to bolster up the coal winning side. I have entered into this Debate a good deal. In the Standing Committee Members opposite were conspicuous by their silence. We had two or three speeches from them, and the rest were made by the Opposition. Whether they intend to make up for that tonight I do not know. There is another objection I wish to raise. I have been authoritatively informed that qualified accountants acted for the men and the owners with regard to the prices at which coal was put through the coke ovens. A lot of nonsense has been spoken——

Mr. Gallacher:

Yes, the hon. Member himself just said that he had been doing a good deal of talking.

Mr. Jennings:

A lot of nonsense is coming from the other side of the House. The Minister cannot stand by some of the statements which have been made by Members of his own party. The figures which accountants have submitted are not the right and proper figures, it has been said. If that statement can be supported it is a slander on the professional accountants to whom fees have been paid——

Mr. Piratin: (Mile End)

On a point of Order. Is it in Order, Sir, for the hon. Member to refer to prices and compensation when we are dealing with transfer?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner):

Perhaps the hon. Member was referring to those matters only in passing. He cannot, of course, go into detail.

Mr. Jennings:

Thank you, Sir, for your Ruling. I was referring only to prices of coal as passed on to coke oven plants, and not to compensation. It is apparent that Members opposite are not following the discussion. I want to finish on this line now we have calm after the storm. It is high time this nonsense about wangling, or the suggestion that prices have not been properly assessed by qualified accountants, ceased.

Mr. Glanville:

It is absolutely true.

Mr. Jennings: T

here is a sample, and if the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) believes that the figures are not correct, then I say he and his colleagues, who have paid the qualified accountants for certifying these figures, ought to have their brains examined. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are on the wrong line now."] We want some better explanation from the Minister as to why he is taking over these coke ovens beyond the fact that there are good profits to be had to bolster up the coal winning side. I referred to it in Committee as a "smash and grab raid," and I repeat it; it is a smash and grab on a solid, good, prosperous industry of this country.

Mr. Shinwell:

I am familiar with the arguments that have been adduced. They were heard frequently during the Committee proceedings. The hon. and gallant Member for Ecclesall (Major Roberts) has said that he has not heard a sound reason why these coke ovens and their ancillary activities should be transferred to the Board. I am bound to say that neither during the Committee proceedings, nor in the two speeches we have just heard, have I heard any sound reasons advanced why we should fail to take them over. The hon. and gallant Member for Ecclesall referred to the speech I made during the Committee proceedings and accused me of charging the coke oven industry with gross inefficiency—

Major Roberts:

Not "gross."

Mr. Shinwell:

Perhaps that was an exaggeration; at any rate, with inefficiency. Of course, I did nothing of the sort. All that I said, in reply to the arguments advanced by hon. Members opposite regarding, as they described it, the unqualified efficiency of the coke oven industry, was that there were examples of inefficiency, and I content myself with that. But if the coke oven industry, which we propose automatically to vest with the Board—for that is our proposition embodied in the Bill, and by that we stand—is as efficient as hon. Members opposite believe it to be, that is, in my view, an excellent reason why it should be transferred to the Board.

What does the hon. Member for Ecclesall advise us to do? He says this is not the way to nationalise the coke oven industry. It is in contemplation that the iron and steel industry will be nationalised, so he says, and I would not wish to quarrel with him on that score—time will tell. He advises that if we are to nationalise the coke oven industry, we should not do it piecemeal, we should take it all over at once. He goes much further than we propose——

Major Roberts:

I do not want to be misconstrued in this way. I said very definitely two or three times that I had no wish whatsoever to nationalise this industry, and I do not want the Minister to twist my words in that way. All I was saying was that, if he wanted to do it, I was trying to show him a better way to do it.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Shinwell:

I am prepared to view the hon. Member from any particular angle, if he is giving me advice and offering me guidance as to the specific method of transferring coke oven interests to the National Coal Board. I am prepared to give it consideration, but for the moment I am content with this alleged piecemeal method of undertaking the transfer. As he knows, we are proposing an automatic transfer, but there is also the possibility of transfer by the exercise of mutual option. It may well be that when we have nationalised, with the consent of the House, which I have no doubt we shall secure in due course, the gas industry, which is a carbonising industry and concerned to a very large degree with the coke oven industry, we may consider the proposition the hon. Member has made. If the National Coal Board did not exercise the power embodied in the Bill automatically to vest in themselves the coke ovens directly associated with the colliery undertakings, they would have to invent a reason for doing so, because we are not dealing here with two distinct industries. The coke ovens are an integral part of the coal mining industry and that, of course, is well known. It will not be disputed by hon. Members opposite that both the coke oven plant and the collieries are in the main all single undertakings, and there has been no attempt in the past to create severance. There is no reason why we who are about to transfer this industry from private hands to public control should support severance, which, so far, has not existed in this industry.

I am asked by hon. Members opposite to go back on the decision which we reached during the Committee stage. I am sorry I cannot accept that view. It would be a departure from a decision carefully considered and reached by the Government. It is our intention to operate the Bill in this fashion, and we believe it will be for the good not only of the coal mining industry but of the coke oven industry as well.

Something has been said about the need for taking over the coke ovens because they were more flourishing and profitable than the colliery undertakings. The hon. Member for Hallam (Mr. Jennings) made that allegation—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is true."] That may be, but I can assure hon. Members opposite that, with the reorganization we have in contemplation and the goodwill which we seek and which we shall secure in the industry, the coal mining industry will pay the nation handsomely. Not only will it prove more profitable—I know this is unpalatable to hon. Members opposite, who, no doubt, are hoping that the nationalisation of the coal industry will bring failure, but I hope to disappoint them—but it will be all the more profitable because we are adopting the process of integration.

Mr. H. Macmillan:

As the Minister has rightly told us, we had a considerable Debate in Committee on this point, and he urges the House not to go back upon the decision that was reached during the Committee stage. In the Committee there were a number of powerful arguments adduced from both sides and by a strange coincidence no one was converted on either side by the arguments brought forward. I cannot hope at this late hour and in the time it would be proper for me to take, to reverse that decision by a vote; nor could I hope, much as I could wish, to convert a sufficient number of hon. Gentlemen opposite to vote with me. On a recent Amendment we converted them at least not to vote for their own Party. But we find it very difficult to get them into our own lobby. I will not recapitulate at length the main argument put forward for the nationalisation of the coal industry proper. We have been told, what may be called the human or psychological argument, that, until the industry is nationalised, such was the feeling created by a long, and, in many ways, a sad, history of the coalfields, there would not be that human tendency and urge to work which was requisite in a great national need.

Whatever may be true about the coal industry, that cannot be alleged of the coke oven industry. The history of this industry shows that the comparatively small numbers of people employed in it —I believe there are about 20,000—have been remarkably happy, if by that one means the absence of industrial disputes and good relations between management and men. I think the human or psychological argument falls to the ground in this case. The second general argument for nationalisation has been the need to take over an industry on the ground of inefficiency in order to make it more efficient. The Minister has told us tonight that his main reason for taking over the coke oven industry is that it is so efficient. It is really difficult to get this right. Sometimes we are told an industry is to be nationalised because it is inefficient, and sometimes because it is efficient. It is like the White King, who said in the famous trial in "Alice "—

Mr. David Griffiths: (Rother Valley)

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it not a fact that in Committee it was readily admitted by hon. Members—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

That is not a point of Order.

Mr. Gallacher:

May I raise a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? Can you advise me what is the use of having discussions in Committee upstairs if we are to get exactly the same discussions and arguments down here?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

That again is not a point of Order.

Mr. Gallacher:

It is a pretty good effort.

Mr. Macmillan:

I do my best, but sometimes I despair of getting Government business through this House. I have never seen a Bill so consistently obstructed both in Committee and on Report by its own supporters. I said that the second reason normally given, the human or psychological reason, breaks down. This has been a happy, contented, industry. [AN HON. MEMBER: "That is a ninepins argument."] Certainly; you set them up and I knock them down. Now we are told by the Minister that he wishes to take over the industry because it is so efficient and that its efficiency will add to the general profitability of his undertaking. His third argument, I think, it is fair to describe as a technical argument—that it would be of advantage to the effective working of the Bill. I took down the words the Minister used. He referred to the coke oven industry which the Government proposed to vest automatically in the Board. Anyone who heard him would have thought that the coke oven industry was going to be vested automatically in the Board. Not at all, it is going to be divided. Some part of it, the particular part of it which happens at the moment to belong to these particular undertakings, will be vested in the Board, and the other part of it will be left with other owners such as those of the iron and steel industry. Therefore, it is not true to say "the coke oven industry which we propose to vest automatically in the Board." The correct description would be "the particular part of the coke oven industry which happens by chance to be related to these particular assets or the property of these particular owners."

Therefore, the point of efficiency has broken down, the point of psychology has broken down, and now the technical argument has broken down. Instead of drawing the industry under one control it is, in fact, divided between, at present, the Board and the private owners, and, I suppose, eventually, if the private owners are nationalised, between this Board and some other board which will operate another part of the industry. [Interruption.] I am bound to say I do not think I have put an argument that cannot be put forward with propriety, and we are on a very sunshiny wicket today. Do not let us spoil it at the end. I say, therefore, I do not wish to express it unduly to the inconvenience of Members. I, no doubt, will have many other points to raise later in the Bill, but, I repeat I do not think that the case is quite so overwhelming▀×I put it no higher than that—on any of the normal grounds which have been put forward to justify nationalisation.

I would, therefore, venture to recommend to the House that they should accept this Amendment. We are drawing near to the end of our labours; give us the pleasure of seeing hon. Members opposite in our lobby.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 290; Noes, 123.

Division No. 170.] AYES. [10.20 p.m
Adams, Richard (Balham) Davies, Edward (Burslem) Hardy, E. A.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Harrison, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, Harold (Leek) Hastings, Dr Somerville
Alpass, J. H Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Haworth, J.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Deer, G. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Attewell, H C. de Freitas, Geoffrey Herbison, Miss M
Awbery, S. S. Delargy, Captain H. J Hicks, G.
Ayles, W. H. Diamond, J. Hobson, C. R.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Dobbie, W. Holman, P.
Bacon, Miss A. Dodds, N. N. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Baird, Capt. J. Donovan, T. Horabin, T. L
Balfour, A. Douglas, F. C. R. Hoy, J.
Barnes, Rt Hon A J. Driberg, T. E. N. Hubbard, T.
Barstow, P G Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Barton, C. Durbin, E. F. M. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Battley, J. R. Dye, S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.)
Bechervaise, A. E. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Belcher, J. W. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Benson, G. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Irving, W. J
Berry, H. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Janner, B.
Beswick, F. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Binns, J. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) John, W.
Blackburn, A. R Ewart, R. Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Blenkinsop, Capt A Fairhurst, F. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Blyton, W. R. Farthing, W. J. Jones, J. H. (Bolton)
Boardman. H. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Bottomley, A. G. Follick, M. Keenan, W.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Forman, J. C. Kenyon, C.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Foster, W. (Wigan) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Kinley, J.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Kirby, B V
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Freeman, Peter (Newport) Lang, G.
Brown, George (Belper) Gaitskell, H. T. N. Lavers, S.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Gallacher, W. Lee, F. (Hulme)
Buchanan, G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Burden, T. W Gibbins, J. Leslie, J. R.
Burke, W. A. Gibson, C. W Lever, Fl. Off. N. H.
Champion, A. J Gilzean, A. Levy, B. W.
Chater, D. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R Gordon-Walker, P. C. Lewis, J (Bolton)
Clitherow, Dr. R Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Lindgren, G. S.
Cluse, W. S. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Cobb, F. A Grenfell, D. R Logan, D. G
Cocks, F. S. Grey, C. F. Lyne, A W.
Coldrick, W. Grierson, E. McAdam, W
Collick, P. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) McEntee, V. La l
Collindridge, F. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Mack, J. D
Collins, V. J. Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Colman, Miss G. M. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)
Comyns. Dr. L. Gunter, Capt. R. J. McKinley, A. S.
Cook, T. F. Guy, W. H. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) McLeavy, F.
Corlett, Dr. J Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Crawley. Flt.-Lieut. A. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Mainwaring, W. H.
Daggar, G Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mallalieu, J P. W.
Daines, P. Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Manning, Mrs. L (Epping) Ranger, J. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Marquand, H. A Rankin, J Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Reeves, J. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Medland, H. M. Reid, T. (Swindon) Thurtle, E.
Messer, F Rhodes, H. Tiffany, S.
Middleton, Mrs. L. Richards, R. Timmons, J.
Mikardo, Ian Ridealgh, Mrs. M Titterington, M. F.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Robens, A. Tolley, L.
Monslow, W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Moody, A. S. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Turner-Samuels, M.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Rogers, G. H. R Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Morley, R. Royle, C. Usborne, Henry
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Sargood, R. Vernon, Maj W. F
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Scott-Elliot, W. Viant, S. P.
Mort, D. L. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A Walkden, E.
Murray, J D Sharp, Lt.-Col. G M Walker, G. H.
Nally, W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Warbey, W. N.
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Shinwell, Rt. Hon E. Watson, W. M
Noel-Baker, Capt F. E. (Brentford) Shurmer, P. Weitzman, D
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Noel-Buxton, Lady Silverman, J. (Erdington) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Oldfield, W. H. Skeffington, A. M. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Oliver, G H. Skinnard, F W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Orbach, M. Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir B. (Rotherhithe) Wigg, Col. G. E.
Paget, R. T Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester) Wilkes, Maj. L.
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Wilkins, W. A.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Pargiter, G. A. Smith, T. (Normanton) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Parker, J. Snow, Capt. J. W. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Parkin, Fit.-Lieut. B. 1. Solley, L. J. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Sorensen, R.W Williamson, T.
Pearson, A. Sparks, J. A. Willis, E.
Pearl, Capt. T F Stamford, W Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Perrins, W Steele, T. Wilson, J. H.
Piratin, P. Stokes, R. R. Wise, Major F. J.
Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Strachey, J. Woodburn, A.
Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Stross, Dr. B Woods, G. S.
Popplewell, E. Stubbs, A. E. Yates, V. F.
Porter, E. (Warrington) Summerskill, Dr. Edith Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Porter, G. (Leeds) Swingler, S. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Price, M. Philips Symonds, Maj. A. L. Zilliacus, K.
Pritt, D. N. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Proctor, W. T. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:-
Pryde, D. J. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet) Captain Michael Stewart and
Pursey. Cmdr. H Thomas, Ivor (Keighley) Mr. Simmons.
Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
NOES.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight)
Astor, Hon. M. Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R.
Baldwin, A. E. Gage, Lt.-Col. C. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Barlow, Sir J. Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Maclay, Hon. J. S.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Bennett, Sir P. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)
Bossom, A. C Glossop, C. W H. Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Bowen, R. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Bower, N. Gridley, Sir A Marples, A. E.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Grimston, R. V. Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G. Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V Mellor, Sir J.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T. Haughton, S. G. Molson, A. H. E.
Butcher, H. W. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Morris, H. (Carmarthen)
Byers, Lt.-Col. F Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Neven-Spence, Si B
Carson, E. Hogg, Hon. Q. Nield, B. (Chester)
Challen, C. Howard, Hon. A Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Hudson, Rt Hon. R S. (Southport) Osborne, C.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Hurd, A. Pickthorn, K.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Pitman, I. J.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Jarvis, Sir J. Prescott, Stanley
Cuthbert, W. N. Jeffreys, General Sir G Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
Davidson, Viscountess Jennings, R. Prior-Palmer, Brig O.
Digby, Maj. S. W. Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Raikes, H. V.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Keeling, E. H Rayner, Brig. R.
Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. Lambert, Hon. G. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Drewe, C. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Renton, D.
Duthie, W. S. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Eccles, D. M. Lipson, D. L. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Ropner, Col. L
Erroll, P. J Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Ross, Sir R.
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Low, Brig. A. R. W. Sanderson, Sir F
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Lucas, Major Sir J. Scott, Lord W.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Shephard, S. (Newark)
Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. McCallum. Maj D Smiles, Lt.-Cot. Sir W.
Smith, E. P. (Ashford) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) Watt, Sir G. S Harvie
Snadden, W. M. Thomson, Sir D. (Aberdeen, S.) Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Spearman, A. C M Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Spence, H. R. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F. White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Touche, G. C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray) Turton, R. H. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Studholme, H. G Vane, W. M. T
Sutcliffe, H. Wadsworth, G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wakefield, Sir W. W Major Conant and
Taylor, Vice Adm E. A. (P'dd'ton, S.) Walker-Smith, D Commander Agnew.
Division No. 171.] AYES. 11.45 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Berry, H. Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Beswick, F. Clitherow, Dr. R
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Cobb, F. A.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Blenkinsop, Capt. A. Cocks, F. S.
Alpass, J. H. Blyton, W. R. Coldrick, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Boardman, H. Collick, P
Attewell, H. C. Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Collindridge, F.
Awbery, S. S. Bowen, R. Collins, V. J.
Ayles, W. H Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Colman, Miss G. M.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Comyns, Dr. L.
Baird, Capt. J. Brook, D. (Halifax) Cook, T. F.
Balfour, A. Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Brown, George (Belper) Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)
Barstow, P. G. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Corlett, Dr. J.
Barton, C. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Chamberlain, R. A. Dagger, G.
Bechervaise, A. E. Champion, A. J. Davies, Edward (Bursiem)
Belcher, J. W. Chater, D. Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, J H. (Bolton) Rhodes, H.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Robens, A.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Keenan, W. Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)
Deer, G. Kenyon, C. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
de Freitas, Geoffrey King, E. M. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Delargy, Captain H. J Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Diamond, J. Kinley, J. Rogers, G. H. R.
Dobbie, W. Kirby, B. V. Royle, C.
Dodds, N. N. Lang, G Sargood, R.
Donovan, T. Lavers, S. Scollan, T.
Douglas, F. C. R. Lee, F. (Hulme) Scott-Elliot, W.
Driberg, T. E. N. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Lever, Fl. Off. N. H. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.
Dye, S. Levy, B. W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Lewis, J. (Bolton) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lindgren, G. S. Shurmer, P.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Logan, D. G. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Lyne, A. W. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Ewart, R. McAdam, W. Skinnard, F. W.
Fairhurst, F. McGhee, H. G. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Farthing, W. J. Mack, J. D. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Follick, M. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Smith, T. (Normanton)
Foot, M. M. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.M.) Snow, Capt. J. W.
Forman, J. C. McKinlay, A. S. Sorensen, R. W
Foster, W. (Wigan) Maclean, N. (Govan) Sparks, J. A.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) McLeavy, F. Stamford, W.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Steele, T.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Gaitskell, H. T. N. Mainwaring, W. H. Stokes, R. R.
Gallacher, W. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Stubbs, A. E.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Mann, Mrs. J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Swingler, S.
Gibbins, J. Manning, Mrs L. (Epping) Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Gibson, C. W. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Medland, H. M. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Goodrich, H. E. Middleton, Mrs. L. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Mikardo, Ian Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Grenfell, D. R. Monslow, W. Thurtle, E.
Grey, C. F. Moody, A. S. Tiffany, S.
Grierson, E. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Timmons, J.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Morley, R. Titterington, M. F
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Tolley, L.
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Murray, J. D. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Gunter, Capt. R. J. Nally, W. Vernon, Maj. W. F
Guy, W. H. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Wadsworth, G.
Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Walker, G. H.
Hale, Leslie Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brontford) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Warbey, W. N.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col, R. Noel-Buxton, Lady Watson, W. M.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) O'Brien, T Weitzman, D.
Hardy, E. A. Oldfield, W. H. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Harrison, J. Oliver, G. H. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Orbach, M. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Haworth, J. Paget, R. T. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Parker, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Hicks, G. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Hobson, C. R. Paton, J. (Norwich) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Holman, P. Pearl, Capt. T. F. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Perrins, W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Horabin, T. L Piratin, P. Williamson, T.
Hoy, J. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Willis, E.
Hubbard, T. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Popplewell, E. Wilson, J. H.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Porter, E. (Warrington) Wise, Major F. J.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Porter, G. (Leeds) Woodburn, A.
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.) Price, M. Philips Woods, G. S.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Pritt, D. N. Yates, V. F.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Proctor, W. T. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Irving, W. J. Pryde, D. J. Zilliacus, K.
Janner, B. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Ranger, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Rankin, J. Mr. Pearson and Mr Simmons
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Reid, T. (Swindon)

Amendments made: In page 44, line 23, leave out "the," and insert "a." In line 44, after "any," insert "one or more."—[Mr. Shinwell.]

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move, in page 45, line 9, at the end, to insert: which, immediately before the primary vesting date, have effect.

This is a point of clarification. The Amendment clears up doubts raised on the Committee stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move in page 45, to leave out lines 20 to 24.

This deletion is consequential upon the new Clause relating to patents and designs.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 45, line 32, after "persons," insert "being companies or persons."—[Mr. Shinwell.]

Mr. Shinwell:

I beg to move, in page 45, line 34, after "thereof," to insert: or for such concerns and such subsidiaries.

This is slightly more than a drafting Amendment. It is proposed to exclude certain businesses and subsidiaries.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. H. Macmillan:

I beg to move, in page 45, line 38, to leave out paragraphs 10 to 13.

Colonel Clarke:

The House will realise that these paragraphs give a list of assets which it is proposed to transfer at the option either of the Board or of the owners. They embrace bricks, brickworks, works for making tiles and earthenware pipes, plant for distributing water, wharves of various sorts, including private harbours and staithes. Arising out of that I asked the Minister a question in Committee, and he promised to give me an answer on the Report stage, namely, what are "wharves not being canal wharves"? I have gone through all the main possibilities, but I have not yet been able to find out what they are. This paragraph also includes colliery houses farms, farming stock and other agricultural assets. In Committee an Amendment was moved that these should only be transferred at the option of the Board or owner, with the alternative of arbitration if either one or other objected. It did seem possible that either the Board, in a covetous vein, might take more than it should, or that some of the collieries would get rid of what were really worthless assets, and that, therefore, there should be some opportunity of having the matter discussed with the object of ensuring that one could not take an asset entirely if he wished, and that the other could not force it on an unwilling receiver.

I realise there are cases in which some of these ancillary undertakings may be so mixed up in colliery yards, or in works round collieries, that it would be an embarrassment for them to be transferred to anybody else. Otherwise I see no reason why they should be taken over, if the collieries either wish to go on working them or to dispose of them in other directions. There would be little prospect of being able to bolster up the losses. As far as I know they have not yet been regarded as singularly inefficient. I ask whether it is really wise that the Board should consider taking over this great variety of other assets. Have they persons on the Board, or officials attached to it, who really know much about the running of wharves, railways, brickworks? One has seen on many occasions in the past companies which have expanded in the direction of taking over many subsidiary activities which they thought would help them to get a cheaper article or cheaper service, but very often it does not pay. Very often it is better to let those who know about such things run them, and pay them for their services. I suggest that this is not only a cause of possible hardship on the collieries—they may have to give up assets which they do not wish to give up, or which they prefer to pass on in another direction—but may lead to the Board having forced upon it assets which it would be much better without. I therefore support this Amendment to limit the assets which it is proposed the Board should take over

12 m.

Mr. Shinwell:

I am sorry I cannot accept this Amendment. This part of the Schedule is, in my view, eminently fair to both parties. It may operate to the advantage of the Board—I admit that—but equally it may operate to the advantage of the owner. There are certain assets which may be essential to the working of the main assets of the Board. Some of them have been referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke), for example, brickworks. Colliery undertakings use large quantities of bricks, and it may be to their advantage to have a brickworks on the site. On the other hand there may be brickworks associated with colliery undertakings remote from the site, which could be worked independently, and which could not be regarded as essential to the activities of the colliery undertaking. In that event the Board may not care to exercise its option. On the other hand, if the owners feel that there is no advantage in retaining the severed part of the industry—the minor part of the industry, the brickworks or similar ancillary activity—they have the right, within this part of the Schedule, to call upon the Board to accept the option which they can exercise. That seems to me to be justice equally applied to both sides. After all, if this industry is to work satisfactorily it is desirable that the Board shall have the first option, the first choice, and that is proposed in the Schedule. But, as I have pointed out, it is not by any means unfair to the owners, who are entitled to force the option on the Board it they feel so disposed.

Colonel Clarke

rose——

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. and gallant Member has already spoken and cannot speak again.

Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox (Henley):

I should like to ask the Minister what will be the position in the Fens with reference to the possible discovery of a new coalfield. It appears that as a result of recent boring for oil in Lincolnshire, a new coalfield is indicated Coal has been found——

Mr. Speaker:

We cannot deal with that matter on this Amendment.

Sir G. Fox:

I am trying to find out from the Minister whether the Board are going to take over any new coalfields which may be found.

Mr. Speaker:

I would point out that this Amendment is to leave out paragraphs 10 to 13.

Sir G. Fox:

With due deference, paragraph 13 refers to— interests of colliery concerns in farms I was wondering what was going to happen in the case of the Fens——

Mr. Speaker:

I think the hon. and gallant Member had better resume his seat.

Mr. H. Macmillan:

I am sure it was unintentional but the Minister did not make clear what the effect of this Amendment would be. As I understand it, the effect would be this. It would not, of course, prevent the Board obtaining this type of asset. What it would do is to remove this list of things from Part II to Part IV of the Schedule. Therefore, it would move out all that class of assets which are automatically transferred on the vesting date, whether the Board or the owners wished it. If this Amendment were carried, these assets would simply be under the other assets in Part IV.

Mr. Shinwell:

The right hon. Gentleman is almost right, the only difference being that the whole of the assets transferred to Part IV would then be subject to arbitration.

Mr. Macmillan:

They would come under Part IV, where they would be subject to arbitration. I am grateful to the Minister. Therefore, they would join that class of assets subject to arbitration. The only question before the House is into which category they should be put. The Minister said, in defending their inclusion in Part II, that it might work out to the advantage of the Board in some cases, and in other cases to the advantage of the present proprietors. I am quite sure that that is true, but it does not seem to be the right test. Would it not be better that they should be moved into a category where it is a matter for arbitration to decide in each case? It would be better and to the general advantage that the interests of colliery concerns "in wharves not being canal wharves, private harbours" should be left to the arbitrator to decide. Exactly what is a wharf, not being a canal wharf, private harbour or staithe is not clear, and we had an interesting discussion on this point in Committee. It was suggested that it might be a major dock or harbour, but then it was decided that it was not. It was then suggested that it might be something like Seaham Harbour, but the Minister did not think that that would come in. The Minister stated in Committee that he could not give a specific illustration of a particular undertaking, but that he would look at the matter again. The Minister has had some weeks to consider this, and I am hoping that he may be able to carry out his undertaking, and tell us exactly what it does mean. It is obviously a difference of drafting. In the course of five weeks, we should, at least, know what is the exact meaning of this provision, about which we were left uncertain during the Committee stage, because it was in view of the assurance which the Minister gave in Committee that my hon. Friend asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

I revert from the question of what those words mean, to the general question of whether they should be in Part II or Part IV of the Schedule, and in view of what the Minister has said, it seems that no one can quite tell, without inquiring, whether it would be to the advantage or disadvantage of the Board or the operators. It would seem not unreasonable that the House should do as we suggest and place them in the category of assets which would be the subject of arbitration.

Mr. C. Williams:

I should like to be able to support the Minister, at least partially, on Part II, and I feel that it is my duty, on behalf of my constituents and this House, to give some reasons. So far as Paragraph 10 (a) of the Schedule is concerned, I feel quite confident that the House will realise the necessity of the Minister of Fuel and Power having under his control, under this Bill, some of the things mentioned in Paragraph 10 (a), for instance, "tiles and earthenware pipes." We all realise that the Minister will have great need of these, and I will willingly give him my support in enabling him to obtain them; and so far as Paragraph 10 (b) is concerned, I only want a little persuasion and a little explanation. I very nearly got as far as supporting them on Paragraph (b), but I did not know why it was necessary that he should want "water supply." As regards Paragraph II my hon. Friend, who spoke in support of this Amendment just now, drew our attention to the question of wharves. I want to know precisely how far the Minister wishes to take over "wharves and private harbours."

12.15 a.m.

I am not sure whether by this means he is going to encroach on certain other concerns. If it is only a case of wanting to take over these wharves which are being used already in connection with the coal industry and the private harbours that are being put to a similar use, I think he is going as far as he should, and that there might be certain reasons why he should have them. If there are such reasons I think that the House is really entitled to know them, and I am trying to draw this information from the Minister. Perhaps I am not always very courteous, but I am trying to be so at the present time. I really think that more has been left out of Paragraph II than has been put in. Is the Minister absolutely certain that there is not something further which ought to go in? I believe that there is, and I hope that whoever speaks for the Government will give us the Government's opinion on this. I turn to the question of Paragraph 12. The assets here to be transferred include houses and works. I should like to have an assurance that the Minister will not take over under this provision a house, say, owned by a retired collier whose only means of living it is. [Interruption.] I notice hon. Gentlemen opposite jeer at the idea of a retired collier being in those circumstances. I do not, because I have for them a great admiration. But I notice that their case has not been put forward, and I am trying to protect their interests at any rate in this matter. The last paragraph of this Schedule deals with farming property, and lays down that the assets shall include the interests of colliery concerns in farms, farming stock and other agricultural assets. We have heard nothing about that. We do not know how much farming assets the Board may be taking over. I think this House and the people, who will ultimately own this farm stock, should have some elucidation from the Government on precisely what kind of farm property the Board are going to take over. I do impress on the Minister to give us some information and I hope that he is not going to take over all sorts of bad farms in this way, because it would be a very expensive thing to do. As far as farm stocks are concerned, I do not know how far the right hon. Gentleman proposes to go. Are we to see the Ministry of Fuel and Power engaged in large scale farming? If so I want to know the qualifications of that Ministry for any such undertaking. On all these points I ask whoever replies for the Government for elucidation. We should know the exact position. The Minister of Agriculture might be the person best able to deal with the last point which I have raised. This Schedule certainly gives the Government enormous power to take over a lot of things, and there should be some explanation of it. [Interruption.] I am indeed glad to be getting some help from the other side of the House and to see them assimilating these points. We are glad to know that they now seem to know something about these Questions, but I think it is ten to one that they knew nothing whatever about them previously.

Colonel Lancaster:

Before we leave this point I think we ought to have some explanation from the Minister on the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke). Those who are confronted with a change of ownership must make some arrangements in the next few months with regard to their property. They must be informed as to what is to be transferred to the Coal Board, and unless the Government translate their own Schedules into words which can be understood by the House and by the companies concerned how on earth can they make any arrangements in regard to these matters? It is only fair to the House and the country that we should have a definite expression from the Minister as to what is meant by, "wharves not being canal wharves."

Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport):

I think we have tried to carry on this discussion in a reasonable way, and not to obstruct the business. The Rule has been suspended and a perfectly legitimate question has been asked of the Minister. He has plenty of supporters on the Front Bench, and there are officials from whom he can get the information. Why should he not give us this information? My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) read out the promise the Minister made during the discussion in Committee upstairs. The right hon. Gentleman then gave, as we understood, a definite promise that he would look into this matter, and produce an answer. He has had weeks to do it, so why should we not have an answer now? After all, he is responsible for putting these words into the Bill. He is supposed, with the assistance of the Attorney-General, to know, or, at all events, to be able to learn, the meaning of the words printed in the Bill, and I suggest that it is perfectly legitimate that we should continue this discussion and press the Minister until he does give an answer.

Mr. Shinwell:

At this late hour, the right hon. Gentleman is becoming very high and mighty. He should realise, if it has not already dawned on him, that he is now on an Opposition Bench and not on the Government Bench which he adorned for so long. [HON MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] Hon. Members are anxious for answers; they will probably get more answers than they care for. It depends upon the mood they are in. I was under the impression that the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) was in a very amiable mood——

Mr. Hudson:

He was.

Mr. Shinwell:

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman restrain himself? I understood that that was the mood of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Members opposite, but apparently neither the acting Leader of the Opposition in this Debate nor the deputy Leader of the Opposition can restrain Members opposite. Now I understand hon. Members are anxious to receive information in reply to their questions. There is no reason why they should not ask questions, but there is every reason why they should wait to get the answer. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) was very anxious to ascertain why we were proposing to take over farms. It so happens that, strange as it may appear to the hon. Member, who does not know everything, although he sometimes thinks he does—I sometimes wish I knew as much as he thinks he does—strange as it may seem to him colliery undertakings do own farms, and very large farms, and they own sheep. The right hon. Gentleman the late Patronage Secretary seems to regard my observations as witty. He is not a judge of wit. He would not know it if he heard it.

Mr. James Stuart (Moray and Nairn):

Thank you very much.

Mr. Shinwell:

For a long time he occupied such a position in this House that we never had an opportunity of knowing whether he had any opinions. Who do hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen think they are? Do they think they are entitled to lecture us?

Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford):

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. What have the right hon. Gentleman's remarks to do with the point at issue?

Mr. Speaker:

I hope we shall direct ourselves to the Amendment before the House, and that this discussion will shortly be ended.

Mr. Shinwell:

I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. I am very grateful to you for that observation. That is precisely what I desire myself. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. Hudson), who was for some time the Minister of Agriculture, started all this——

Mr. Hudson:

Indeed I did not. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister was responsible by not answering a perfectly legitimate question.

Mr. Speaker:

I must remind the House that we are now on the Report stage, which is rather more formal than the Committee stage, and hon. Members do not rise up in fury quite so much.

Mr. Shinwell:

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I am perfectly calm. I think I have disposed of the hon. Member for Torquay. Now on this question of harbours and wharves; there are many kinds of wharves. There are land sale wharves. We have heard of the famous Wigan Pier, which is a land wharf, and there are many such wharves up and down the country—there may be one in Torquay for all I know. I am informed that there are several of these harbour installations on a small scale which are owned by colliery undertakings. I am informed that there is one in Fife. We embodied the term in the Schedule because we wanted to be quite certain—I am being quite honest with the House—that if there were such installations, we would have them vested in the Board, at the option of the Board, and in order to ensure that nothing would escape us which was of value in relation to the undertakings which the Board was to take over and have transferred to it, it was desirable to include these words. There is nothing sinister about it, it is quite common form and I hope I have satisfied hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 240; Noes, 93.

Division No. 171.] AYES. 11.45 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Berry, H. Chetwynd, Capt. G. R.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Beswick, F. Clitherow, Dr. R
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Cobb, F. A.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Blenkinsop, Capt. A. Cocks, F. S.
Alpass, J. H. Blyton, W. R. Coldrick, W.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Boardman, H. Collick, P
Attewell, H. C. Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Collindridge, F.
Awbery, S. S. Bowen, R. Collins, V. J.
Ayles, W. H Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Colman, Miss G. M.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Comyns, Dr. L.
Baird, Capt. J. Brook, D. (Halifax) Cook, T. F.
Balfour, A. Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Brown, George (Belper) Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)
Barstow, P. G. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Corlett, Dr. J.
Barton, C. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Chamberlain, R. A. Dagger, G.
Bechervaise, A. E. Champion, A. J. Davies, Edward (Bursiem)
Belcher, J. W. Chater, D. Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, J H. (Bolton) Rhodes, H.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Robens, A.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Keenan, W. Roberts, Sqn.-Ldr. Emrys (Merioneth)
Deer, G. Kenyon, C. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
de Freitas, Geoffrey King, E. M. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Delargy, Captain H. J Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Diamond, J. Kinley, J. Rogers, G. H. R.
Dobbie, W. Kirby, B. V. Royle, C.
Dodds, N. N. Lang, G Sargood, R.
Donovan, T. Lavers, S. Scollan, T.
Douglas, F. C. R. Lee, F. (Hulme) Scott-Elliot, W.
Driberg, T. E. N. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Lever, Fl. Off. N. H. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.
Dye, S. Levy, B. W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Lewis, J. (Bolton) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lindgren, G. S. Shurmer, P.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Logan, D. G. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Lyne, A. W. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Ewart, R. McAdam, W. Skinnard, F. W.
Fairhurst, F. McGhee, H. G. Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Farthing, W. J. Mack, J. D. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Follick, M. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Smith, T. (Normanton)
Foot, M. M. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.M.) Snow, Capt. J. W.
Forman, J. C. McKinlay, A. S. Sorensen, R. W
Foster, W. (Wigan) Maclean, N. (Govan) Sparks, J. A.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) McLeavy, F. Stamford, W.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Steele, T.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Gaitskell, H. T. N. Mainwaring, W. H. Stokes, R. R.
Gallacher, W. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Stubbs, A. E.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Mann, Mrs. J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Swingler, S.
Gibbins, J. Manning, Mrs L. (Epping) Symonds, Maj. A. L.
Gibson, C. W. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Medland, H. M. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Goodrich, H. E. Middleton, Mrs. L. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Mikardo, Ian Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Grenfell, D. R. Monslow, W. Thurtle, E.
Grey, C. F. Moody, A. S. Tiffany, S.
Grierson, E. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Timmons, J.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Morley, R. Titterington, M. F
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Tolley, L.
Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Murray, J. D. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Gunter, Capt. R. J. Nally, W. Vernon, Maj. W. F
Guy, W. H. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Wadsworth, G.
Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Walker, G. H.
Hale, Leslie Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brontford) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Warbey, W. N.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col, R. Noel-Buxton, Lady Watson, W. M.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) O'Brien, T Weitzman, D.
Hardy, E. A. Oldfield, W. H. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Harrison, J. Oliver, G. H. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Orbach, M. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Haworth, J. Paget, R. T. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Parker, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Hicks, G. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Hobson, C. R. Paton, J. (Norwich) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Holman, P. Pearl, Capt. T. F. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Perrins, W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Horabin, T. L Piratin, P. Williamson, T.
Hoy, J. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Willis, E.
Hubbard, T. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Popplewell, E. Wilson, J. H.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Porter, E. (Warrington) Wise, Major F. J.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Porter, G. (Leeds) Woodburn, A.
Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.) Price, M. Philips Woods, G. S.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Pritt, D. N. Yates, V. F.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Proctor, W. T. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Irving, W. J. Pryde, D. J. Zilliacus, K.
Janner, B. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Ranger, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Rankin, J. Mr. Pearson and Mr Simmons
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Reid, T. (Swindon)
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Beamish, Maj T. V. H. Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.
Astor, Hon. M. Birch, Nigel Braithwaite, Lt. Comdr. J. G.
Baldwin, A. E. Bossom, A. C. Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.
Barlow. Sir J. Bower, N. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Carson, E Jeffreys, General Sir G Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Challen, C Jennings, R. Raikes, H. V.
Channon, H. Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Ramsay, Maj. S.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Keeling, E. H. Rayner, Brig. R.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Lambert, Hon. G. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Ropner, Col. L
Cuthbert, W. N. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Ross, Sir R.
Davidson, Viscountess Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Scott, Lord W.
De la Bere, R. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Shepherd, S. (Newark)
Digby, Maj. S. W. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Low, Brig. A. R. W. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Drewe, C. Lucas, Major Sir J. Snadden, W. M.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Spearman, A. C. M
Duthie, W. S. McCallum, Maj. D. Spence, H. R.
Eccles, D. M. Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I of Wight) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Mackeson, Lt Col. H. R. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Erroll, F. J. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thomson, Sir D. (Aberdeen, S.)
Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Manningham-Buller R E. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Marples, A. E. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F
Gage, Lt.-Col C. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Touche, G. C.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) Turton, R. H.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Medlicott, F. Vane, W. M. T.
Glossop, C. W. H. Mellor, Sir J. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Molson, A. H. E. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Gridley, Sir A. Neven-Spence, Sir B Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Grimston, R. V. Nield, B. (Chester) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Hare, Lt.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge) Noble, Comdr. A. H P. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Houghton, S. G. Nutting, Anthony White, J B. (Canterbury)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Orr-Ewing, I. L Williams, C. (Torquay)
Hope, Lord J. Pickthorn, K. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Howard, Hon. A. Pitman, I. J. York, C.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Poole, O. B. S. (0swestry)
Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Prescott, Stanley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Sir Arthur Young and Major Conant.
Division No. 172. AYES. 12.30 a.m
Adams, Richard (Balham) Gibson, C. W Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Adams, W. T (Hammersmith, South) Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Pargiter, G. A.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Goodrich, H. E. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Alpass, J. H. Grierson, E. Pearson, A
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Peart, Capt. T. F
Attewell, H. C. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Perrins, W
Baird, Capt. J. Griffiths, Capt. W. D (Moss Side) Piratin, P
Barstow, P. G. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Barton, C Gunter, Capt. R J Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Beattie, J. (Belfast, W.) Guy, W. H. Popplewell, E.
Bechervaise, A. E. Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Porter, E. (Warrington)
Berry, H. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Beswick, F. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Price, M. Philips
Bing, Capt. G. H. C Hardy, E A. Pritt, D. N
Binns, J. Hastings, Dr. Somerville Proctor, W. T.
Blenkinsop, Capt. A. Haworth, J. Pryde, D. J
Blyton, W. R. Harbison, Miss M. Pursey, Cmdr. H
Boardman, H. Hewitson, Capt. M Ranger, J.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Hobson, C. R Rankin, J.
Bowen, R. Holman, P. Reid, T. (Swindon)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Rhodes, H.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Horabin, T L Robens, A.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hoy, J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Hubbard, T Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Brown, George (Belper) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Rogers, G. H R.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Royle, C
Castle, Mrs. B. A Hughes, Lt. H. D. (W'Iverh'pton, W.) Sargood, R.
Chamberlain, R. A Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A
Champion, A J Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Shawcross, C. N (Widnes)
Chater, D. Irving, W. J Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Janner, B. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E
Clitherow, Dr. R. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Shurmer, P.
Cobb, F. A. Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras S.E.) Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Cocks, F. S. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Simmons, C. J.
Coldrick, W. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)
Collick, P. Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Collindridge, F. Keenan, W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Collins, V. J. Kenyon, C. Snow, Capt. J. W.
Colman, Miss G. M. King, E. M. Sorensen, F. W
Comyns Dr. L. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E. Steele, T.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Kinley, J. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Lang, G. Stubbs, A. E.
Corlett, Dr. J. Lavers, S. Summerskill, Dr Edith
Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A. Lee, F. (Hulme) Swingler, S.
Daggar, G. Lever, Fl. Off. N H Symonds, Maj. A L.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Lewis, J. (Bolton) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies Harold (Leek) Lindgren, G. S. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Deer, G. Logan, D. G Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lyne, A. W. Tiffany, S.
Delargy, Captain H. J McAdam, W. Timmons, J.
Diamond, J. Mack, J. D. Tolley, L.
Dobbie, W. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Dodds, N. N. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.) Wadsworth, G.
Douglas, F. C. R. McLeavy, F. Walkden, E.
Driberg, T. E. N. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Warbey, W. N.
Dye, S. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Weitzman, D.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Medland, H. M. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Middleton, Mrs. L. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Evans, S. N (Wednesbury) Monslow, W. Wilkins, W. A.
Ewart, R. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Fairhurst, F. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Farthing, W. J. Murray, J D. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Nally, W. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Follick, M. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Willis, E.
Foot, M. M. Nicholls, H R. (Stratford) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Forman, J. C. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Wilson, J. H.
Foster, W. (Wigan) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Wise, Major F. J.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Noel-Buxton, Lady Yates, V. F.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) O'Brien, T. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Gaitskell, H. T. N. Oldfield, W. H. Zilliacus, K.
Gallacher, W. Oliver, G. H.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Orbach, M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey) Paget. R. T. Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Mr. Hannan.
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Gridley, Sir A Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Astor, Hon. M. Grimston, R. V. Nield, B. (Chester)
Baldwin, A. E. Hare, Lt.-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'db'ge) Nutting, Anthony
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Houghton, S. G. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Birch, Nigel Henderson, John (Cathcart) Prescott, Stanley
Bower, N. Hope, Lord J. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Howard, Hon. A. Raikes, H. V.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Carson, E. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Scott, Lord W.
Challen, C. Jeffreys, General Sir G Shephard, S. (Newark)
Channon, H. Keeling, E. H. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Lambert, Hon. G. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Spearman, A. C. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Cot. U. (Ludlow) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Spence, H. R.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Davidson, Viscountess Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
De la Bere, R. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Digby, Maj. S. W. Low, Brig. A. R. W. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas, Major Sir J. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Duthie, W. S. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Vane, W. M. T.
Eccles, D. M. McCallum, Maj. D. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G. Maclay, Hon. J. S. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fraser, Maj. H C. P. (Stone) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Gage, Lt.-Col. C. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Marples, A. E. York, C.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Manningham-Buller, R. E. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Glossop, C. W. H. Mellor, Sir J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Molson, A. H. E Mr. Drewe and Major Conant
The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 46, line 14, to leave out paragraph 18, and to insert: 18. In cases in which an interest in fixed property vests in the Board, whether without option or by virtue of the exercise of an option, and the owner of that interest has also an interest in land the use of which is reasonably necessary for access to that property or for the convenient use thereof, interests of such owners in such land

I am happy to be able to give my hon. Friends opposite the opportunity of patting themselves on the back once more—at least the remnant who remain on those benches. This Amendment is introduced as a result of observations which were made in the Committee and is self-explanatory.

Mr. H. Macmillan:

I wish to thank the learned Attorney-General for the very graceful way in which he has moved this Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 47, line 5, leave out "cash, book-debts," and insert: investments, interests in other concerns owned otherwise than as investments, cash.

In line 6, after "assets," insert: patents ,or copyrights in registered designs.

In line 9, leave out "or," and insert: and except interests of such a concern or subsidiary.

In line 9, leave out paragraph 23.

In line 25, at end, insert: and which has not at any time been issued for use or as a standby, so however that property surplus to ordinary requirements shall not be treated as falling outside this definition by reason of its having been so issued if it has been withdrawn on being found unnecessary or unsuitable for the purpose for which it was so issued or on the substitution of other property therefor.

In line 26, leave out lines 26 to 29.— [Mr. Shinwell.]

SECOND SCHEDULE.—(Transfer to the Board of Rights and Liabilities under Contracts.)

Amendment made:

In page 50, line 16, at the end, insert: (b) provisions for or in connection with the grant (otherwise than to the concern, subsidiary or owner so mentioned by an employee of theirs) of a licence under a patent or under the copyright in a registered design; or.—[Mr. Shinwell.]

Mr. H. Macmillan:

I beg to move, in page 50, line 18, at the end, to insert: in cases where the Board enter into a substituted agreement not less beneficial to the persons to whom such pensions, gratuities or other like benefits are payable

This Amendment is to bring within the scope of the Schedule that is to make the Board responsible for the payment of pensions and so forth, those people whose agreement with the Board is less beneficial to them than their existing agreement relating to pensions and the like. Despite the lateness of the hour, I move this Amendment to protect individuals who we want to make quite sure shall be no worse off than otherwise.

The Attorney-General:

The laudable object which the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) seeks to achieve has, owing to the characteristic foresight of His Majesty's present advisers, been included in Clause 35 (2), which states: In the case of persons, whether taken into the service of the Board or not, there shall be secured for them the same benefits, or substituted benefits not less advantageous.

Mr. Macmillan:

I am very grateful to the Attorney-General. Unless I misunderstood, he has not read the words "so far as practicable" in Clause 35.

The Attorney-General:

I think probably the right hon. Gentleman, like the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), was rather more "off the bench" than on. That part of the Clause has been amended.

Mr. Macmillan:

I am happy that we should end on so hilarious a note. If the right hon. Gentleman assures me that we are completely covered, I hope he will not hold it against us that we take considerable interest in these matters. If I slept, then I have nodded like Homer. I thank the Attorney-General for his courtesy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Attorney-General:

I beg to move, in page 50, line 28, after "that," to insert "(a)."

I would like to deal also with the next Amendment on the Order Paper. The effect of paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule is, as hon. Members see, to put the Board in the place of the colliery concern so that the provision of contracts should have effect for and against the Board. The Amendment at line 28 will turn the existing Proviso into Proviso (a) and the words to be inserted at the end of line 31 embody a new Proviso whereby the operation of the paragraph may be excluded by agreement.

Amendment agreed to. Further Amendments made:

In page 50, line 31, at the end, insert: and (b) the operation of this paragraph may be excluded, as respect all or any rights or liabilities as respects which it would otherwise have effect, by agreement made between the Board and the concern, subsidiary or owner mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) or (2) of paragraph 1 of this Schedule and notified to the other party to the contract, but, if such a notice is served after this paragraph has taken effect as to the provision in question, so far only as regards performance thereof due under the contract on or after the date of service of the notice.

In page 51, line 8, leave out from "Schedule," to the second "the," in line 10, and insert: the expression Class A subsidiary has the meaning assigned to it by paragraph 24 of." —[The Attorney-General.]

THIRD SCHEDULE.—(Provisions as to Selling Schemes under Part 1 of the Coal Mines Act, 1930, and as to the South Yorkshire Mines Drainage Committee.)

Amendment made: In page 51, line 24, leave out from "in," to the end of line 25, and insert: investments, cash or other liquid assets, or the benefit of contracts."—[The Attorney-General.]

Bill to be read the Third time upon Monday next, and to be printed.