HC Deb 29 June 1948 vol 452 cc2029-45

  1. (1) The Board of Trade may at any time require the Commission to submit to them a report on the general effect on the public interest of practices of a specified class, being practices which in the opinion of the Board are commonly adopted as a result of, or for the purpose of preserving, conditions to which this Act applies.
  2. (2) The provisions of this section shall be be without prejudice to the generality of the powers and duties conferred and imposed on the Board of Trade and the Commission by subsection (2) of section two of this Act.—[Mr. Wilson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Wilson

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This Clause is intended to meet a point which came up on the Committee stage and which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick).

Mr. Pickthorn

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us which date?

Mr. Wilson

I can tell the hon. Gentleman the column number; it is 186–7. The Committee felt that the Commission might, when investigating conditions connected with a particular class of goods, come across some restrictive practices commonly used in a variety of trades and industries, such as loyalty rebates, price maintenance, boycotting of a particular class of retailers and so on. It was felt that the comments of the Commission, which will gradually become more and more skilled on monopolistic practices, would be valuable on such a general class of practice. Although the Commission has already been given considerable latitude in what it can include in its report, it was felt desirable that the Commission should be asked to make reports of a general character on general practices of that kind.

This Clause would enable the Commission to present in a convenient form the general conclusions about particular practices of the kind I have mentioned based on sources of past investigations into the operations of these practices in particular trades. It is right that references of this kind should be made only at fairly long intervals, but the reports, which, of course, in normal circumstances will be published, would help to unify opinion on monopoly problems and it would be, as the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) said on one occasion, of great value to industry if the views of the Commission on this kind of thing were available.

I want to make it quite clear that a report made by the Monopoly Commission under this Clause could not be followed by any specific action because the Commission, making a report of this kind, would have no powers to take evidence or to compel witnesses to attend to give evidence. It would be acting in much the same position as an ordinary Departmental Committee. Nevertheless, it would be most valuable to have the views of this Commission on such general practices. I understood, when the point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge, that that was the general view of hon. Members upon both sides of the Committee. It is in that spirit that I have moved the Second Reading of this Clause.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I must confess that my hon. Friends and I are a little troubled by the proposed new Clause. We feel that the strength of the mode of approach to this problem which the Bill adopts is that it depends upon inquiry, based upon an examination of agreed and specific facts, and upon arriving at a result upon that basis. I appreciate, as the right hon. Gentleman envisaged in his speech, that we might have half a dozen inquiries into ordinary questions that are raised by the Bill without the need for the proposed new Clause, and that a practice might come to light demanding a more general form of inquiry.

I find great difficulty in seeing how this situation could arise. We have had, ex hypothesi the right hon. Gentleman's argument, an inquiry into the application of the practice in a particular case and the Commission have expressed their view, and the practice has been dealt with by some action, if action has been deemed necessary. I cannot understand what is in the right hon. Gentleman's mind on this point. He has had the practice fully inquired into in relation to an operation of trade or industry, or two or three different industries. Then, he, so to speak, asks the Commission to deal with the practice in vacuo, not related to the basis on which the Commission have already examined that practice.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that I am most anxious to consider every form of action which would deal with this problem upon the basis that we have all adopted. I find difficulty in seeing the advantage of the Clause. From my own experience in my profession I know that the view which the courts have always expressed is against dealing with academic questions and for dealing with a question only in relation to the fact which has given rise to it. I believe that that view and that practice are salutary. Therefore, while I do not wish in the least to be obstructive, I feel that I am to be convinced that there is this gap in the Bill, and that what we all want to see is not covered by the general procedure, with the addition of Clause 2 (2). I hope that the right hon. Gentleman may be able to give us some more specific examples. If he is not, I am afraid that my hon. Friends and myself must take a view against the proposed new Clause.

Mr. W. Shepherd

As my right hon. and learned Friend has indicated, we do not look with favour upon this new Clause, which is contrary to what the Minister himself said during the Committee stage. He did not then think that the Clause would be necessary. It will be interesting if the right hon. Gentleman will now tell us what sort of pressure has been put upon him by hon. Members who sit behind him between the time when he made his speech in Committee and when he decided to put the new Clause upon the Paper. In Committee he said: I am sure the Commission would itself put forward general reports when dealing with particular cases. The argument from this side of the Committee was quite clear: If, as a result of accumulated experience, the Commission felt, of their own volition, impelled to submit general reports on a specific practice, there would be nothing wrong about it. The President also made the position quite clear. He said:" There is nothing in the Bill as at present drafted which would prevent the Monopoly Commission doing that. I think that is the case. Hon. Members may therefore well ask why the right hon. Gentleman has brought forward this new Clause, when he himself said: I do not think it is necessary to insert it in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 3rd June, 1948; c. 187.] The right hon. Gentleman's view then was that the Clause was not necessary. We share that view. We feel that the instruction which the Board of Trade are to give to the Commission to present a report upon a general practice which it might not be the desire of the Commission to do is wholly bad. We think it would be much better to leave the Bill as it stands and to allow the Commission to submit a Clause on general practices if, as a result of accumulation of experience, they desire to make representations on particular points.

I would ask the President of the Board of Trade two questions. What is to happen to the proposed reports when they are made, presumably to the President of the Board of Trade? Are they to be made upon a limited reference or upon a full reference? Will they be laid before this House and shall we have an opportunity of discussion upon them? If there are to be reports upon general practices it is desirable that this House should have an opportunity of voicing its opinion. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a further question. At what period from the date of the commencement of the Commission's activities does he visualise such a request being made to the Commission? I hope he proposes to give the Commission a long run before making requests of this kind. If this Clause is to be added to the Bill we should have an assurance of no premature demand upon the Commission, who should be allowed to accumulate a good deal of experience first.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

In the quotation which he made from the Committee proceedings the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. W. Shepherd) has not done full justice to the observations made by the President of the Board of Trade. He quoted certain extracts from those observations, I want to add to them. I am looking at the same column, in which my right hon. Friend made it clear that he was in full sympathy with the general principles of the Amendment then before the Committee. He said: I am quite prepared to give further thought to it to see whether we should include it, though we would have on the Report stage to propose a slightly different form of words. He said he was sure that the Commission would itself be able to put forward general reports when dealing with particular cases, and he added: If it were reviewing two or three cases which raised a particular principle it might give a general report on that principle."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 3rd June, 1948; c. 187.] As I understand the matter, the main object of the Clause is to make it clear that the Commission shall have power to make reports of this kind to the President of the Board of Trade if they so require, and that the matter shall not be left vague or ambiguous.

4.30 p.m.

I should have thought that it was eminently desirable that this new Clause should be inserted, that the matter should not be left in the realm of doubt and that it should be made expressly and abundantly clear that the Commission might be required to make a general report not on one specific case, but on general matters which came to their notice arising out of their inquiries into a number of cases. We are dealing with something which is rather new, in this Bill. We are entering a hitherto uncharted sea. None of us can know how the Commission will operate and in what detail its reports will appear.

I should have thought that in the course of time the Commission would come across practices of various kinds which ought to be drawn to the attention of the House. I should have thought it would be highly convenient if the President of the Board of Trade had power to request reports of a general nature from time to time rather than leave it to this House and the public to assimilate conclusions of their own from reports dealing with specific cases. It will be highly valuable to have generalised reports from time to time by the Commission as a result of their manifold activities. Therefore, I hope the Committee will support the new Clause.

Mr. Pickthorn

I agree that we all desire to avoid ambiguity and vagueness, but I do not feel certain that we are not importing more than we are removing here. If hon. Gentlemen will look at the Report, or if they remember it clearly, they will see that the original Amendment was to add: or the like of conditions in general."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 3rd June, 1948, c. 186.] The assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, as has already been indicated, was that he thought the Commission ought to deal and would deal with general principles arising out of particular cases. But what is being authorised in this Clause—I think I am right—is something quite different. What is being authorised here is not reports on general principles arising out of, so to speak, the summation of particular cases. What is being authorised here is reports of the effects of those cases upon the general public interest. That is something wholly different from what was asked for by the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) or what was promised by the President of the Board of Trade, and whatever else this new Clause does, it does not in my understanding of the words implement the discussions in Cols. 186 and 187 of the OFFICIAL REPORT.

This is something quite new. This really is altering the character of the Bill very considerably. It is putting the Commission in a rather difficult situation. The Board may now compel the Commission to report upon something on which the Commission has no right of demanding evidence, sending for papers and persons, cross-examining on oath and so on. That, to begin with, is clearly undesirable. I do not say that it is so undesirable that it ought never to happen, but it is giving the Commission a task of a different nature and of a more difficult nature than its general task.

Secondly, not only is it a procedurally new task but it is different in function and purpose. Its purpose is different from the normal purpose of the Commission's work because the purpose here is not to find out exactly what is being done restrictively or otherwise by the egg-basket making industry or whatnot; the purpose here is to report what is the effect upon the universe in general, at any rate, upon the British State and people in general—of the behaviour in some particular of the egg-basket making industry and allied and other industries. That seems to me a quite different thing, and such as alters the nature of the Commission very much. It is highly unfortunate that it should be at this stage that we should have that introduced. It seems to me to be really altering the nature of the Bill very much more considerably than is ordinarily done at this stage or than was contemplated by either side during the Debate on Clause 6 on the Committee stage.

Mr. Beswick (Uxbridge)

I had no doubt that the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn)—

Mr. Pickthorn

Not learned.

Mr. Beswick

—the hon. and unlearned Member for Cambridge University would find that some words I said did not in fact mean what I thought they meant at the time I uttered them. I can only say that I am very grateful to the President of the Board of Trade for putting forward this new Clause. As has been stated, I moved an Amendment on the Committee stage. The President said that he thought the point I put forward was adequately covered and if the point was not adequately covered, he would bring forward a more suitably worded Amendment. So far as I was concerned, the matter was left at that, and any talk about pressure is completely beside the point. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman's legal advisers have advised him that the point I sought to have covered was not covered and that the new Clause is designed to do that, and I am prepared to accept the right hon. Gentleman's legal advisers and their authority as against the authority of the hon. and unlearned Member for Cambridge University.

What we had in our minds was something quite simple. It was that a matter had been put before the Commission and that it involved a practice which was properly carried out by other trade associations or firms, and that although the inquiry was in the first place restricted to one industry or one association of industries, it would be competent for the Commission to make some observations on the effect of this class of practice in other industries. I should have thought that for the Commission to make such a report or such observations would have been helpful to industry generally. No doubt there are a number of trade associations who have no wish to engage in practice which is anti-social and they would be only too ready to follow any guidance given to them. Because I believe a report of this kind might well be useful as a preventive as well as a cure, I am grateful to the President of the Board of Trade for putting forward the new Clause.

Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)

I do not think this Clause is an improvement on the Bill. I do not think it is desirable where we have set up a semi-judicial body to ask it to write essays on various matters. I do not believe it would be a good plan to ask His Majesty's Judges to present the President of the Board of Trade from time to time with their opinions on the subject of parricide or something of that kind. The President of the Board of Trade gave away the whole case for the new Clause in saying that a long interval must elapse before such a report was called for and that it ought only to be called for at long intervals. I beg hon. Members opposite not to think that all industrialists and all industries are completely half-witted. We all agree that under this Commission a sort of case law relating to particular matters which have been threshed out by the Committee with all its power of taking evidence will be placed before the public and, indeed, before this House. I suggest that from that case law, industry will be able to judge how it should act in those cases. However, if we are to have general essays promoted by the Board of Trade on whether it is ever right that all newspapers should be sold at the same price or on this that or the other, we are embarking, as an hon. Member said, on an entirely new field.

I do not think the new Clause is at all an improvement on the Bill. We might escape a Division on this matter if the President of the Board of Trade would do two things; first, give us an assurance that he will look again at these words; secondly, insert in the Clause an assurance that it will not be put into force except for the job of consolidating reports already made. I am most anxious not to get into the Bill the kind of situation where the Board of Trade says, "We would like an essay by the Commission on price maintenance" because, while it is quite possible that price maintenance may be against the public interest, it is equally possible that price maintenance may be in the public interest. We do not want essays, but a judicial body which is able to look into actual practice. The rest of us are quite able to judge whether, in maintaining the price to the consumer, we are following the general lines upon which the President wishes the industry to work. I deprecate widening the field on which this body has to report, and for which it has to be responsible.

Mr. Wilson

I hasten to assure the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) that there has been no pressure or anything else put on me since the Committee stage which has caused me to put down this new Clause. I do not think I even discussed the matter with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), but I gave an assurance at the time that I would give it further thought, having expressed sympathy with the principle of my hon. Friend's Amendment, and after giving it further thought, I came to the view that it was desirable to put down this Clause.

The hon. Member for Bucklow wanted to know what would be the procedure following a report of this kind. It would be simply publication, except where publication of the "essay," as the right hon. Gentleman called it, involved public interest on grounds of security, secrecy, defence matters and so on. What we had in mind, as I have already said, was that the Monopoly Commission could in such a case—and they would be rare cases—function in the same way as a specially constituted departmental committee.

The right hon. Gentleman has just referred to the case of price maintenance. I will be quite frank. It was to deal with that kind of problem that we felt it was desirable to have this Clause. It might be that one or two reports on different industries, it might be that a report on the egg-basket making industry referred to by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn)—I do not know whether it is monopolistic or not—showed some interesting point affecting price maintenance or some other general practice. The same thing might come up when they considered a second industry, and it might be desirable that we should ask the Commission to look into the question of price maintenance. In fact, because of the interest expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House last year, my predecessor set up a committee to go into re-sale price maintenance. If we had had a Monopoly Commission available, we might have used it for such a purpose, because a Monopoly Commission would, over a period of time, have gathered considerable experience of individual industries and practices, and also perhaps would have filed in its records some useful information. It would involve less difficulty both for the Government and the committee, on the one hand, and also for industry on the other, to let the Monopoly Commission do the job rather than to set up a special departmental committee every time.

The hon. Member for Bucklow asked how long it would be before we would give the first reference to the Monopoly Commission. I think I can answer him quite sincerely that we would envisage a pretty long run before we asked the Commission to report on a general practice of this kind, because we would want it to have examined a number of specific industries and problems before it began to get together a body of information about these things.

4.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Cambridge University was quite wrong in his interpretation of the Clause. When he took his illustration from the egg-basket making industry, he said that it might be a question of how far the practices of the egg-basket making industry in general affected the public interest, the universe, or the welfare of the State and this country. That is not the point. It is not the general activities of the egg-basket making industry, but the general practice, such as price maintenance or boycotts, or something operated by the egg-basket making industry, and the right hon. Gentleman's ju-jube industry, and two or three other industries. We want to look at the general practice involved, not at the general effect on the one industry. We might want to look at a practice indulged in by a number of industries to see whether that practice involves things which require some safeguards on the part of the State, because there might be some industry somewhere else which had never been before the Commission which was contemplating instituting a scheme of price maintenance, and it would be desirable to have a general report on that subject.

Mr. Pickthorn

I think both interpretations which the right hon. Gentleman has just put are wrong, both that which he attributed to me and his own. Surely what Subsection (1) of the new Clause provides for is not a report on the practices of the egg-basket manufacturing industry, nor is it a report on the practices of that industry and similar practices in other industries; what the Subsection deals with is the general effect on the public interest of that class of practices. That is something different from the practices, it is something different from what is otherwise the function of the Commission anywhere else in the Bill and, with every respect to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) and his understanding of his own language, it is something different from what he asked for in the Amendment he moved upstairs.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Member for Cambridge University has stated now what we want. The hon. Gentleman has stated correctly what we want in this new Clause, and it is exactly what my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge was after in his speech on the Committee stage.

Finally, I should like to deal with the remark of the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) when he said that he felt that the Commission should not be asked to make reports in vacuo on a particular practice in general. I agree with that entirely, but, as I have said already to the hon. Member for Bucklow, this would only take place at longish intervals and after the Commission had had a chance of getting experience on particular cases and practices. Therefore it would not be a report in vacuo.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Could not the right hon. Gentleman look into that point in order to try to get it into the Clause? There seems to be a great difference between what he has said now about this happening only after the data is before the Commission by having made specific inquiries. I ask him to believe that my hon. Friend and myself are anxious to get this into good shape, and if he could consider this and could find it possible to insert in another place such a provision, it would meet everyone in the House.

Mr. Wilson

I think we are probably after the same point on this, but we must be quite sure we are. I would certainly not intend to refer to any cases except where there had been some considerable experience—

Mr. Lyttelton

I am sorry to interrupt, but I thought the right hon. Gentleman was after the same point as we were, until he said that he would have used the Commission on the price maintenance matter, which was a sort of general essay by the Committee, but was not built up on any evidence taken upon oath concerning the particular practices of price maintenance in a particular industry. I thought he departed from it then. We should be satisfied if he would give us the assurance for which my right hon. and learned Friend has asked.

Mr. Wilson

I am not sure that the two right hon. Gentlemen are in exact agreement on what they want, from what they have just said, but I can give the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby the assurance that we would only do this after the Commission had been in being for some time, and after it has had some experience of the practices indulged in generally or specifically by the kind of industries, monopolies or restrictive practicing industries referred to. The Commission by that time would have a considerable amount of experience of such questions as, for instance, resale price maintenance. After it had had one of those cases it would be well fitted to undertake the general essay which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) does not want them to undertake on resale price maintenance. Therefore, although I think I can give the assurance sought by the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby, I am not sure that I can give the assurance wanted by the right hon. Member for Aldershot.

One of the things said by the right hon. Member for Aldershot puts me in some difficulty. He said he would be opposed, for instance, to asking His Majesty's judges for essays from time to time on parricide or other things. The difference is that every case of parricide that comes to notice is automatically referred to His Majesty's judges and action is taken upon it. It is not a fact that every case of resale price maintenance that comes to our attention will be referred to the Commission. I think that everybody in the country knows that parricide is undesirable and that, other things being equal, it should not be embarked upon. On the other hand, not everybody knows that resale price maintenance is a bad thing. I do not know whether it is or not. We have not yet had the report of the departmental committee. It might be useful for industries who are considering embarking upon a policy of resale price maintenance to have a report of this general character in front of them, pointing out the dangers of resale price maintenance, the things to be avoided by anyone going in for such a policy, and the safeguards which the community ought to have Therefore, I do not think that parricide and the other kind of thing are on terms of exact equality.

I am certainly prepared to give the assurance for which the hon. Gentleman asks. I do not know whether it is desirable to put this into the Clause; I should have thought not. I will certainly look at the Clause again and undertake to see whether the phrase "at any time" may have to be altered. We would not do so until the Commission were fairly well in the saddle and had seen a number of cases. Further, it would be desirable for the Commission to have experience of the number of practices in question in particular industries before a case was referred to them.

On the other hand, I could not suggest that the Commission, when being asked to present a report on resale price maintenance, should confine their report to those particular cases which they had already examined. They might want to look more widely into the subject of resale price maintenance, just as the present departmental committee is looking more widely into that question. Subject to this, I shall be glad to have another look at the matter. If it is possible to introduce something which will meet the point of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, perhaps in another place, I shall be glad to see if that can be done.

Mr. Scollan

I welcome this new Clause for an entirely different reason from that given by the President of the Board of Trade. The reason is that it gives entirely new powers to the Board of Trade. Subsection (2) of the new Clause makes it quite clear that it in no way interferes with the powers already granted in the Bill for the Commission to inquire into monopolies. If that is the case, Subsection (1) must contain something new and entirely different; it certainly does, something we should have had in this country during the past 10 years—that is, the power for the Board of Trade to instruct somebody to inquire into a malpractice from which the public were suffering, due not to a monopoly, but to a kind of understanding between traders that the public had to be fleeced in a certain direction. That is the power, even if that is not what it means.

It is laid down very clearly that: The Board of Trade may at any time require the Commission to submit to them a report on the general effect on the public interest of practices. … What kind of practices? [An HON. MEMBER: "Malpractices."] Yes, malpractices are very common in the trade. There may be a retail drapers' association serving the whole of the country, who fix a particular price on an article they are purchasing from the wholesaler or from the cotton mills. If they fix that price generally, and it gives them a margin of profit, they are the only people who have any say in what that margin will be. Obviously, it is a malpractice if they are charging too much. Who will determine what is too much and what is the correct amount?

Major Haughton (Antrim)

May I interrupt the hon. Member to ask whether he can give a single instance of a retail association fixing a price all over the country?

Mr. Scollan

The general practice in the retail trade for many years has been that when the wholesaler goes to the retailer and offers a particular article, he says that the wholesale price is X. The retail price, advised by the wholesaler, is X plus Y, giving a certain margin of profit.

Mr. Oliver Poole (Oswestry)

Surely the hon. Member is not suggesting that these are new powers which the Clause gives to the Board of Trade. They are implicit in the whole Bill, which, as it stands and without any question of the new Clause, gives to the Board of Trade all the powers they want.

Mr. Scollan

It is a Monopoly Bill. The case I am quoting is not a monopoly, but an understanding between traders, which is an entirely different matter. Some monopolies are an asset to the country and not a menace.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)

The Coal Board?

Mr. Scollan

Other monopolies are a menace. The Bill was originally introduced to find out those monopolies that will hamper and strangle both trade and industry for their own particular ends. That is its whole purpose. This Clause is something new. If hon. Members will read it they will see that by Subsection (2) it does not interfere at all with the Bill, and that Subsection (1) gives new powers to the Board of Trade. Consequently, those powers cannot be of any use unless they deal with these particular questions and not with those already provided for in the Bill.

Major Haughton

It was the President of the Board of Trade himself, at the beginning of the discussion on this Clause, who said that he did not think the Board of Trade should require the Commission to instigate an inquiry of this sort except after a lapse of time, or until they had gained considerable experience in a particular practice. I want to be quite clear, before I decide whether or not to vote for the Clause, whether the President has now assured the Committee that he will look into the wording of this Clause in order to implement what he himself has said—that there shall be a passage of time and that there shall be an accumulation of experience by the Commission before any investigation or report of this kind is required—as the Clause says—by the Board of Trade.

Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for having unavoidably missed his original speech and for dealing, perhaps, with a point already dealt with. My feeling on reading the Clause and hearing some of the arguments is that, as my right hon. Friends have pointed out, there is some legitimate point which the Government wish to cover. I cannot help feeling, however, that the words they have chosen cover something far greater. Subsection (1) of the new Clause refers to … the purpose of preserving, conditions to which this Act applies. For the meaning of those words we have to look at Clause 3 of the Bill, and that Clause alone. In all other cases where the Commission is to investigate we have to look not only at Clause 3 but, while the conditions are mentioned in Clause 3, it is necessary in order to satisfy the conditions of Clause 2 to show that those conditions in fact prevail. In that case they are referred to the Commission not only for report, but for investigation. The striking fact about the new Clause is that there is no mention whatever of investigation; either as a consequence of the requirement proposed in the new Clause, or as a result of earlier references under Clause 2.

5.0 p.m.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) made it clear that what he had in mind was that the Commission may be asked to report on a practice which some investigation under Clause 2 had brought to light. But there is no such requirement in the new Clause. In reconsidering the wording of this new Clause, I hope the President of the Board of Trade will make it quite clear that the practices on which the Commission are invited to report are practices which they have investigated on references made to them under Clause 2 and not practices which have never been investigated. In the new Clause there is no mention of investigation having taken place, nor to take place in consequence of a request for a report. I think the right hon. Gentleman will see the necessity for revising the new Clause on the lines that have been suggested.

Mr. Lyttelton

I understand the right hon. Gentleman to be willing to look into the two points, first that there should be a certain lapse of time and, secondly, that the reports of the Commission should be based on the results of their previous investigations. If those are the two assurances he has given, I shall be content.

Mr. Wilson

Based upon, but not confined to.

Mr. Lyttelton

Not confined to the investigation. Such words as "the general effect of such practices of a specified class into which investigation has been made," would meet our point. If I am rightly interpreting the undertaking, I am willing that the Committee shall pass on.

Mr. Wilson

I want to be quite clear about the assurance. Certainly it would be based on previous reports, but not confined to previous reports in dealing with practices which have been brought out by previous reports. In doing that, the Commission would have to look into the wider implications, and not merely at the reports concerned.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on re-committal) considered.