HC Deb 27 April 1949 vol 464 cc285-96

(1) The Minister shall by order establish an Iron and Steel Prices Board (hereinafter referred to as "the Board") which shall consist of—

  1. (a) a chairman who shall be a barrister or solicitor of not less than seven years' standing appointed by the Lord Chancellor;
  2. (b) a member appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of the Corporation and the publicly-owned companies as producers;
  3. (c) a member appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of consumers of the products of the Corporation and the publicly-owned companies; and
  4. (d) such additional members (if any) as may be provided for by the order and appointed by the Minister to represent the interests of producers in the iron and steel 286 industry other than the Corporation and publicly-owned companies or the interests of particular classes of producers or consumers in the industry or other special interests.

No person who is a member or officer of the Corporation or a director or officer of a publicly-owned company shall he qualified to be a member of the Board otherwise than as the member appointed by the Minister under sub-paragraph (b) of this subsection to represent the interests of the Corporation and the publicly-owned companies as producers.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Board to consider—

  1. (a) any representation which may be made to them by the Consumers' Council appointed under this Act or by any other person who appears to the Board to be a person affected or representative of the interests of persons affected, with respect to the prices charged by the Corporation or any of the publicly-owned companies for all or any of their products, including any representation alleging undue discrimination or undue preference in the charging of such prices; and
  2. (b) any questions which may be referred to them by the Minister or the Corporation for consideration.

(3) When the Board have considered any such representation or question as aforesaid they shall make to the Minister a report thereon containing such recommendations, if any, as they think fit.

(4) Any order made under this section shall contain provisions—

  1. (a) as to the constitution and procedure of the Board;
  2. (b) requiring the Corporation to provide for the Board such officers and office accommodation as appear to the Board to be requisite for the proper performance of their functions, subject to the approval of the Treasury with respect to the number of such officers; and
  3. (c) for the payment by the Corporation with the approval of the Treasury of remuneration and allowances to the chairman and other members of the Board and to their officers.

(5) The Minister and the Corporation shall provide the Board with all such information and other assistance as the Board may reasonably require for the proper performance of their functions.

(6) The Board shall make annual reports to the Minister of their proceedings and the performance of their functions, and the Minister shall lay each of such reports before each House of Parliament together with a statement of any action which has been taken by him in the period to which the report relates in consequence of recommendations made to him by the Board.

(7) Without prejudice to the exercise of any powers conferred by or under any enactment other than this Act on any Minister of the Crown or Government department, the Minister may give to the Corporation directions of a general or specific character for securing compliance by the Corporation and publicly-owned companies with recommendations made by the Board under this section.[Mr. Lyttelton.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Lyttelton

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

I must do my best in the scandalously short time which remains to me to discuss what we believe to be the most substantial of the new Clauses on the Order Paper. So far the Debate has shown that we are on the threshold of a great many new problems none of which has been thought out by the Government. There has been a running fire about the question of Parliamentary-control o1 these nationalised corporations. We have received no satisfactory answer to any of our questions. The time has been wasted by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary in answering nothing so far as I can make out, and we are still completely in the dark about Parliamentary control. We are in the dark about what the Government regard as the public interest.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary was ingenuous enough to say that the public interest was synonymous with that of the consumer, but he is the last person really to think that. Or am I wrong? I would point out to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that there are people called producers and that there are workers on the floors of the shops who are not in one part of their lives consumers at all. One of the reasons why we get irritated by the use of the phrase "public interest" is that the public interest must lie between the interests of consumers and producers and those of many other sections of the community. The Government get into great difficulty by trying to hide behind a phrase the meaning of which they do not understand. I would also point out to the hon. Gentleman that some of the monopolistic practices, the dangers of which, I quite agree, are very great, are there in order to protect employment as well as prices, and that the original duties put upon steel were as much to protect and increase employment in the steel industry as to improve prices.

As to the Clause which I am moving, there is a basic problem here. Is it pos- sible to allow a basic industry enjoying the advantages of a tariff to fix prices at its own will. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) took a slight liberty with the facts when he suggested that the consumer now is completely unprotected with regard to the price of steel charged to him. He is fully aware that since 1934—

Mr. S. Silverman

I said nothing about price at all. I was dealing with the point raised by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) about answerability to the public for the conduct of a great national interest and I was pointing out that but for this Bill, there would be no answerability at all.

Mr. Lyttelton

If the hon. Member looks at his words in HANSARD tomorrow he will find, I think, that I am not misquoting him, but I will leave the point if he wishes. Any suggestion that our solution to this fundamental problem is that we should permit the industry to combine and fix prices itself is quite false. We believe in the continuation of the present system, but we believe that the price list of the steel industry should be subject to Government supervision and control. This was the point which appeared to me—I hope I do not misjudge him—to be in conflict with what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne said. If he now withdraws from that position, I am delighted that he does so.

Mr. Silverman

I have already repeated twice the only point which I made in my speech and the right hon. Gentleman must not accuse me of withdrawing any of it, because I do not.

Mr. Lyttelton

I did not say that the hon. Gentleman was doing anything of the kind. I was only saying that from what he said he obviously accepts the fact that at the present moment the consumer is protected in regard to steel prices by the Iron and Steel Board which is under the Ministry.

Mr. Silverman

I did not say anything like that.

Mr. Lyttelton

We cannot go on with this. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that his words gave an entirely wrong impression.

Mr. Silverman

Only to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lyttelton

His words can be read in HANSARD. We believe in the control of prices by the Government and we believe that the steel list should be submitted to, and agreed by, the Government all through the story, and the reason is that the principal danger in all monopolies is the power to charge prices and to maintain prices perhaps on falling demand and thereby to exploit the consumer. Another danger with a monopoly is the restriction of entry into the industry by other firms. Both of these features exist in their most acute form when we create a State monopoly. The whole of this system differs entirely from the matter of organising an industry where ownership and the responsibility for day-to-day management are in private hands. These are fundamental differences. More than once during the Debate on the Clause it has been represented that we believe that there should be no protection for the consumer at all in the matter of prices. That is not so.

This Clause which seeks to establish an Iron and Steel Prices Board is our attempt to try to make what must always be a vicious system a little less vicious. As the Bill stands at the moment, the State monopoly will fix its own prices, and the answer we have received is that it will fix them in the public interest. All the hon. Members who have spoken have taken a different view on what public interest is. It is always a matter of argument. I do not know whether it is in the public interest to charge £x a ton for galvanised sheets or not. It may be in the interests of the workers who are employed in the galvanised sheet industry to charge that price but it may equally be extremely injurious to those who expect to export those galvanised sheets to another part of the Empire. It may be that the consumer of galvanised sheets here is prejudiced by the prices which are being charged.

It is therefore absolutely vicious that a State monopoly should fix its own prices without any reference to any other body. That is what the Bill now seeks to do. It is particularly vicious in this case be-

cause the 'Minister is to regulate the prices in an industry for which he himself is responsible. We have heard from the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) about Philip pleading for Philip. Here is another case. The Minister will regulate prices in an industry for which he is responsible and the powers under which he regulates prices are, by their very nature, almost, I was about to say ephemeral but they are at all events transient, because they come under the first Bill which came into this Parliament. The arguments which the Minister advanced against this Clause in Committee were that it would require an expert staff to run and that it would create greater complications. I suggest that there is no duplication between the work of this price body which we seek to set up and the Consumers' Council. Several hundred thousand—

Mr. Stokes (Ipswich) rose

Mr. Lyttelton

I am so pressed for time that I cannot give way. I have moved this Clause and I must now curtail my remarks.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

In the short time left I must say why this Clause is wholly unacceptable. The proposed board would not have the duty of fixing prices. All it would do would be to listen to complaints about prices made by aggrieved consumers or by the Consumers' Council and then, having considered those complaints, pass them on with its comments to the Minister. The board would require elaborate machinery and a large staff and would just be a committee which would be in the way. It would be quite useless. It would be a bit of bureaucratic machinery and would serve no useful purpose.

It being Eight o'Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Order, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes. 158; Noes, 320.

Division No. 108.] AYES [8.0 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Baxter, A. B. Bowen, R.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Bower, N.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Beechman, N. A. Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.
Astor, Hon. M. Bennett, Sir P Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W
Baldwin, A. E. Birch, Nigel Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Barlow, Sir J. Bossom, A. C Bullock, Capt. M.
Butcher, H. W Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich) Pickthorn, K.
Carson, E Hope, Lord J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E
Channon, H Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Clarke, Col. R. S. Hurd, A. Raikes, H. V.
Clifton-Brown, Lt-Col. G Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Cole, T. L. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Rayner, Brig. R.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Jennings, R. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F G Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L W. Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E Kendall, W. D. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Cuthbert, W. N. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Davidson, Viscountess Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H Ropner, Col. L.
De la Bere, R. Lambert, Hon. G. Scott, Lord W.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lancaster, Col. C. G Shephard, S. (Newark)
Donner, P. W. Langford-Holt, J. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Law, Rt. Hon. R. K Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Drayson, G. B Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Drewe, C. Linstead, H. N. Snadden, W. M.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Spearman, A. C. M.
Duthie, W. S. Low, A. R. W. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Eccles, D. M. Lucas, Major Sir J. Studholme, H. G.
Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Walter Lucas-Tooth, S. H. Sutcliffe, H.
Errol, F. J. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L McCallum, Maj. D. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'l'n, S.)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) McFarlane, C. S Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fox, Sir G. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Thorneyeroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lansdale) Maclay, Hon. J. S. Touche, G. C.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Turton, R. H.
Gage, C. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Maitland, Comdr. J. W Vane, W. M. F.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Marlowe, A. A. H. Wadsworth, G.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Marples, A. E. Wakefield, Sir W. W
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Walker-Smith, D.
Granville, E. (Eye) Mellor, Sir J. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Gridley, Sir A. Mason, A. H. E. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Grimston, R. V. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Harden, J. R. E. Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester) Williams, C. (Torquay)
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V Neill, Sir William (Belfast, N.) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Haughton, S. G. Nicholson, G. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Head, Brig. A. H. Nield, B. (Chester) York, C.
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Odey, G. W
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hogg, Hon. Q Orr-Ewing, I. L. Major Conant and
Hollis, M. C. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Colonel Wheatley.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Diamond, J.
Albu, A. H. Brown, George (Belper) Dobbie, W.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Brown, T. J. (Ince) Dodds, N. N.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Burden, T. W. Donovan, T.
Alpass, J. H. Burke, W. A. Driberg, T. E. N.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Callaghan, James Dugdale, (W. Bromwich)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Carmichael, James Dumpleton, C. W.
Attewell, H. C. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Dye, S.
Austin, H. Lewis Chamberlain, R. A Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Awbery, S. S. Chater, D. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Ayles, W. H. Chetwynd, G. R Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs, B Cluse, W. S Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)
Bacon, Miss A. Cobb, F A. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Baird, J. Cocks, F. S. Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)
Balfour, A. Coldrick, W. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Collick, P. Evans, John (Ogmore)
Barstow, P. G. Collins, V. J. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Barton, C. Colman, Miss G M. Ewart, R.
Battley, J. R. Cook, T. F. Fairhurst, F.
Bechervaise, A. E. Cooper, G. Farthing, W. J.
Benson, G. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. M.) Fernyhough, E.
Beswick, F Cove, W. G. Field, Capt. W. J.
Bing, G. H. C. Crawley, A. Fletcher, E G. M. (Islington, E.)
Binns, J. Crossman, R. H S Fcllick, M.
Blenkinsop, A. Cullen, Mrs. Foot, M. M.
Blyton. W. R. Daggar, G. Forman, J. C.
Boardman, H. Daines, P. Fraser, T. (Hamilton
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Freeman, J. (Watford)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge) Davies, Edward (Bursiem) Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Ganley, Mrs. C. S
Bramall, E. A. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Gibbins, J.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Deer, G. Gibson, C. W
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) de Freitas, Geoffrey Gilzean, A.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) McGhee, H. G. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Gooch, E. G. McGovern, J. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Goodrich, H. E. Mack, J. D. Simmons, C. J.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) McKay, J. (Wallsend) Skeffington, A. M.
Grey, C. F. Maclean, N. (Govan) Skeffington-Lodge, T. C
Grierson, E. MaLeavy, F. Skinnard, F. W.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Macpherson, T. (Romford) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mainwaring, W. H. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Mallalieu, E. L. (Bring) Snow, J. W.
Gunter, R. J Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield) Solley, L. J.
Guy, W. H. Mann, Mrs. J. Sorensen, R. W
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Hale, Leslie Mathers, Rt. Hon. George Sparks, J. A.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil Mayhew, C. P. Steele, T.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Medland, H. M. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Mellish, R. J. Stokes, R. R.
Hardman, D. R. Middleton, Mrs. L. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hardy, E. A. Mikardo, Ian Strauss Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)
Harrison, J. Mitchison, G. R. Stubbs, A. E.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Monslow, W. Swingler, S.
Haworth, J. Moody, A. S. Sylvester, G. O.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Kingswinford) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Symonds, A. L.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Morley, R. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Herbison, Miss M. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hewitson, Capt. M Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Hicks, G. Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Lewisham E.) Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Hobson, C. R. Mort, D. L. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Holman, P. Moyle, A. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Murray, J. D. Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Horabin, T. L. Nally, W. Thurtle, Ernest
Houghton, A L N. D Naylor, T. E. Timmons, J.
Hoy, J. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Titterington, M F.
Hubbard, T. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Tolley, L.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealling, W.) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brantford) Turner-Samuels, M
Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.) Oldfield, W. H. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Oliver, G. H. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paget, R. T. Viant, S. P.
Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Walker, G. H.
Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Pargiter, G. A. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Janner, B. Parker, J. Warbey, W. N.
Jay, D. P. T. Parkin, B. T. Watkins, T. E.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Watson, W. M.
Jenkins, R. H. Paton, J. (Norwich) Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
John, W. Pearson, A. Weitzman, D.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Pearl, T. F. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Perrins, W. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Jones, Jack (Bolton) Popplewell, E. West, D. G.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Porter, E. (Warrington) Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Keenan, W. Porter, G. (Leeds) White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Kenyon, C. Proctor, W. T. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Pryde, D. J. Wigg, George
King, E. M. Pursey, Comdr. H. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Randall, H. E Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Kinley, J. Ranger, J. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Kirby, B. V. Rankin, J. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Kirkwood., Rt. Hon. D Rees-Williams, D. R. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Lang, G. Reeves, J. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Lavers, S. Reid, T. (Swindon) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Rhodes, H. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Leonard, W. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Willis, E.
Leslie, J. R. Roberts, A. Willis, Mrs. E. A.
Lever, N. H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Willson, Rt. Hon, J. H.
Levy, B. W. Robinson, K. (St. Pancras) Wise, Major F. J.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Rogers, G. H. R. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Woods, G. S.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Royle, C. Yates, V. F.
Lindgren, G. S. Sargood, R. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Logan, D. G. Scollan, T. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Longden., F. Scot-Elliot, W. Zllliacus, K.
Lyne, A. W. Segal, Dr. S.
McAdam, W. Shackleton, E. A. A TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McAllister, G. Sharp, Granville Mr. Collindridge and Mr. Wilkins.
McEntee, V. La T Shurmer, P.
Mr. Lyttelton

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may I ask for your guidance? Are there any means open to us by which we can ask the Government to reconsider the timetable?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I am afraid there are no such means. It is my duty to put the Questions in accordance with the Order made by the House.

Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)

Further to that point of Order Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Although I quite understand that it is not within the power of the Opposition to move a dilatory Motion, would it not be within the power of the Leader of the House, in view of the circumstances—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sorry, but no point of Order can arise here. It is my duty to put the Questions in accordance with the Order of the House.

Mr. Jennings

On a point of Order. There are vast interests outside this House—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy-Speaker rose

Mr. Jennings

I am rising on a point of Order.

Colonel Dower (Penrith and Cocker mouth) rose

Mr. Jennings

I am asking for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Hon. Gentlemen must resume their seats when I rise. In

"(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Corporation shall have power—
(a) to hold such interests in companies as vest in them under Part II of this Act, and to acquire by agreement and to hold interests in any company whose activities, including the activities of any subsidiary of the company, consist wholly or mainly of activities which any publicly-owned company (as defined in section fifty-eight of this Act) is immediately before the acquisition authorised by its memorandum of association or, as the case may be, by its charter of incorporation or other charter, to carry on;
(b) to form, or take part in forming, any company for the sole or main purpose of the carrying on by the company of any activities which any publicly-owned company is immediately before the formation of the new company so authorised to carry on or of the exercise by the new company of any powers conferred on the Corporation by the following provisions of this section, or of the acquisition and holding by the new company of such interests in other companies as the Corporation have power to acquire and hold; and
(c) to exercise all rights conferred by the holding of interests in companies:
Provided that—
(i) the Corporation shall not, without the consent in writing of the Minister, exercise their powers under this subsection so as to bring any company into public ownership or form a publicly-owned company, if the consequence thereof would be to increase the sum of the activities which the publicly-owned companies are authorised as aforesaid to carry on;
(ii) nothing in this subsection shall prejudice the powers of investment conferred on the Corporation by Part IV of this Act.
(2) The Corporation shall have power—
(a) to conduct research into any matters affecting the activities which any publicly-owned company is for the time being authorised as aforesaid to carry on, and to assist other persons conducting such research;
(b) to provide for the publicly-owned companies, or for any group of such companies, any services which in the opinion of the Corporation can conveniently be provided as common services for those companies or that group thereof.
(3) The Corporation shall have power, with the consent in writing of the Minister, to carry on any other activities which, at the time when the consent is given, any publicly-owned company is authorised as aforesaid to carry on."

The object of this Amendment is to formulate rather more precisely the powers which the Corporation desires to retain for itself. Those powers are for- any event, no point of Order can possibly arise here, and in accordance with the Order of the House it is my duty to put the necessary Questions.

Mr. Jennings


MT. DEPUTY-SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment moved by the Government of which notice had been given to that part of the Bill to be concluded at Eight o'Clock at this day's Sitting.