§ Mr. Grimston
I beg to move in page 9, line 26, to leave out "have power exercisable."
It would be convenient if we could discuss, with this Amendment, the Amendment in line 28, to leave out "to."
§ Mr. Grimston
As the Committee will be aware, Clause 7 deals with compensation to persons who may lose employment or whose position may be worsened by virtue of the fact that they are entering the service of the Government from Cable and Wireless Limited. As the Clause stands, the power to give such compensation in cases of dismissal or redundancy or of the worsening of position is permissive, and we seek to make it mandatory, but as there is rather more 536 to it than that, I shall sketch some of the background.
In Cable and Wireless Limited, between 1939 and 1946 bonuses on salaries rose from 5 per cent. to 70 per cent. per annum and for the five years prior to nationalisation the average bonus was 55 per cent. per annum. During the Debate on nationalisation in 1946, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and, in addition, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—who I see sitting on the Front Bench opposite—gave emphatic undertakings that the existing contracts of service of the employees would not be disturbed. That was when Cable and Wireless Limited was being nationalised which was, of course, the step previous to the present step by which part of the nationalised Cable and Wireless Limited is being taken over by the Post Office. Those undertakings were given at that time.
What has happened since then? As I understand it, some of the contracts have, in fact, been disturbed and the staff manager, who was chairman of the negotiating committee, said in the course of negotiations that the new positionis that our path must he somewhere between other commercial companies and the Post Office.That does not seem to be carrying out the undertaking which was given Ministerially that existing contracts of service would not be disturbed.
What happened? Eventually the offer was made to the staff as a whole by the nationalised Cable and Wireless to consolidate the salaries on a taper basis, on increases, varying from 30 per cent. to 65 per cent., on the 1936 rate under the old Cable and Wireless. The lower-paid portion of the staff have been compensated on the higher basis, and they have done quite reasonably well out of it; and I think that in their case it can be said that the Ministerial undertaking has been met. However, there is a number of the more skilled people in Cable and Wireless who really feel very bitter, as I understand, about the present position, because they have been given an award which runs only between 35 per cent. and 40 per cent., which is a lower award than that of the lower-paid people.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but would he 537 say whether that percentage includes bonus?
§ Mr. Grimston
I am open to correction. I am giving the information I have had. They have been offered a consolidated rate of from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent. above the 1936 rate. It does not appear to them, and it does not appear to us, that the undertakings, given in the course of the passage of the Measure nationalising Cable and Wireless, have been met.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The point I was making was this. I am not denying what the hon. Gentleman says, but there is a difference between a war-time bonus and what one would describe as a contract of service of an individual in the employ of an organization—that is, between the ordinary terms of employment, and a bonus which is payable at varying rates, and which may come to an end this year or may go on for another, and which is not really a part of a man's basic terms of service.
§ Mr. Grimston
In reply to that I may say that for five years prior to nationalisation the average bonus of Cable and Wireless was 55 per cent. per annum, yet now some of the people on the higher paid staff are getting only 35 per cent. I think that answers the right hon. Gentleman. That hardly comes within the framework of the undertaking which he and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer gave. That is the position as I have been told it. It arises partly from the fact that these people are a minority. They are the more highly skilled people, and they have fallen into an agreement—they have been gathered into an agreement—which has been made by a majority decision of the trade union, with which they do not themselves agree.
That is the position. It seems to me that it is a very great pity—perhaps, "pity" is much too mild a word—if a Ministerial assurance is not fulfilled in both the letter and the spirit. If we have a number of people in the higher grades who, rightly or wrongly—I believe here rightly—consider that they have not had a fair deal, it will react on the operations not only of the nationalised under 538 taking, but, of course, on the operations of the Post Office when it has taken over. After all, we have already seen in the workings of Cable and Wireless during the first year of nationalisation, the profits fall by a half, although the undertaking was taking the same traffic and making the same charges; and in many cases the earnings of the staff were lower, as I have already indicated.
§ Mr. Edward Davies
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt him, for the sake of our understanding the matter better? He referred to a bonus, and he referred to the year 1936 and to subsequent years. Is this bonus a bonus based upon trading receipts, on the profit and loss account, or is it a cost of living bonus, or is it something regarded as an ordinary increment? Could he tell us? Because we are rather confused on these benches. So far as the lower-paid men are concerned, the bonus may have had something to do with the war and the increased cost of living. In that case, this consolidation would be a different matter.
§ Mr. Grimston
I understand that it is not a war-time bonus. It is a permanent thing. I believe it was partly bound up with participation in profits. However, the broad picture I want to draw is this. The average bonus for the five years before nationalisation was 55 per cent.—made up however it may have been. That was the average. Then there was a Ministerial assurance that contracts would not be disturbed. Well, I think that that implied clearly that one could expect to receive more or less the same earnings as before, if continuing to do a similar job. I should have thought so. Of course, it may be possible from a legalistic point of view to argue that it did not. However, it would strike me that that is what it meant, by and large. Now, since nationalisation, people on the lower grades have been awarded up to 65 per cent. which is above the average figure, but some of the higher, skilled grades have been awarded an amount below the average figure.
As I say, I think they have reason to feel aggrieved about this. Apparently, as I understand it, they have not been able to establish their case, because the thing has been done by a majority decision of the trade union. That is the information I have. I am perfectly open and the Committee, no doubt, will be, to 539 hear what has to be said about it, but there is not the slightest doubt that at the present moment some of the higher, skilled staff consider they have had—if I may use the expression—a raw deal in this matter, and that they consider, rightly or wrongly—as I believe, rightly—that a Ministerial assurance, which was given during the passage of the Measure and nationalising Cable been ant wireless, has not been fulfilled—an assurance given, by both the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the Financial Secretary. That is the position.
Here we come along to Clause 7 which is designed to give the Postmaster-General power to compensate persons who suffer loss of employment, and who suffer diminution of emoluments or pension rights. Our first point is, that that power is only permissive, and that by Parliament it ought to be made mandatory. It is the same point as we had on the last Clause, and which the Postmaster-General accepted. I hope he will accept this one. I think I shall take the Committee with me in this case as I did in the last case. The Postmaster-General himself has an Amendment down later to make regulations providing a right of appeal. By these means, I think we can give these people a chance to bring their case before Parliament again, and, if necessary, to appeal, and to see to it that they do get compensation if they are discharged, or compensation for loss of earnings through transfer, to which they are entitled, and which they were led to expect they would receive under the Ministerial assurances. I think that is probably all that we can do, but I do suggest to the Committee that these two Amendments should be accepted for the reasons which I have stated.
§ Mr. Hobson
I want to say at the outset that these two Amendments were anticipated, because of the statements that the hon. Gentleman made in his speech on Second Reading. Thus we have looked at the implications of these Amendments very carefully indeed. We are unable to accept the Amendments. We do not think that regulations will be necessary, but if regulations are necessary, they will be made, and made quickly. Why do not we think regulations will be necessary? The hon. Gentleman himself referred to the words in the Clause which 540 deal with redundancy cases. We are absolutely convinced that, as far as the transfer of staffs is concerned from Cable and Wireless when integration takes place, there will be no redundancy whatsoever. If, however, there was redundancy, my right hon. Friend, at the earliest opportunity, would make regulations which were necessary for dealing with the question of compensation.
We now come to the question of the reduction of emoluments. So far as that is concerned, there have already, in view of the contemplated merger, been consultations with the trade unions concerned. I do not wish to enumerate all the trade unions. They range from the Association of Scientific Workers to the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Union of Shop Assistants and Distributive Workers. They are consulted at all stages with regard to the wages and salaries which should be paid.
Let me come to the example which the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) has given. He dealt with a case, which I have no reason to believe is hypothetical, of some salaried official who is getting a fairly high salary, and a 65 per cent. bonus was, I believe, referred to. He has suddenly found that if this individual were taken over he would be suffering a loss of salary and emoluments. In that case, he would obviously make representation to the Postmaster-General. If representation were made, my right hon. Friend would have to make the regulations. Not only would the man make a personal application, but, in my submission, he would be backed up by his organisation. If that position arises, I have not the slightest hesitation in stating that, so far as my right hon. Friend is concerned, he would, at the earliest opportunity, make the regulations.
I think that we can appreciate the reason why the hon. Member for Westbury has brought this matter forward. I think that not only has he his own considered view on the matter, with which I disagree, but he has in mind certain of the other socialisation Acts. Let us take the subject of electricity. It is true that so far as the Electricity Act is concerned there was provision of the character mentioned in the statement of the hon. Member for Westbury. There is all the difference in the world, however, between 541 taking over all the various companies and municipal authorities which comprise the electricity undertaking and taking over these people from Cable and Wireless, which is one company. The conditions are vastly different. In the case of the electricity undertaking there had to be mandatory power whereby the regulations were not permissive. Here there is no parallel. Because of these reasons, my right hon. Friend, in view of the fact that he fails to see the need for the regulations, regrets that he cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am very disappointed with the reply given by the Assistant Postmaster-General. I feel that there must be many hon. Members on the other side of the Committee who will share my disappointment. The hon. Gentleman says that these regulations are not necessary because there is only a small number of people involved and it is only one company.
§ Mr. Hobson
I stressed the fact that there was one company; not the number of individuals. I do not care whether there is one individual or a thousand individuals.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Gentleman says that there is only one company, which I should have thought would have made the regulations even easier to frame. He might have added that it was not necessary to have the regulations because already considerable damage has been done to the original employees of Cable and Wireless Ltd.
§ Mr. Hobson
If that statement were true, I think that we should have had representations from the trade unions concerned in this matter. These people are not defenceless.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I do not know if the hon. Gentleman is aware of precisely what happened in these negotiations. If he were aware of that, he would know that there was, on the part of the trade unions concerned, the sacrifice of a large number of the employees of Cable and Wireless who joined the organisation since 1939, to get as a quid pro quo some advantage for those who joined the organisation prior to that date. There is already an immense amount of dissatisfaction at the way in which the original employees of this company have 542 been treated. I should have thought that in view of that, the hon. Gentleman would have been anxious to see that there was no further ground for suspicion of their treatment.
I do not complain about the stabilisation. I think that after the experience in the Post Office, after the first world war, when the refusal to accept stabilisation led to postmen being employed at wages on which they could not live, the unions were perfectly right in accepting a measure of stabilisation, but I am convinced that it should be put upon the Post Office as an absolute obligation that they should see that regulations are made to safeguard the men. These men are just tossed about like corks. Only a short time ago they were working for Cable and Wireless, and now they have been transferred, and all the other arrangements have been pushed over.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, after a day's grilling upstairs in Select Committee, was not prepared to say that he would maintain the emoluments of the employees of Cable and Wireless, and I am sorry to say that that attitude has remained and they have not been maintained, although I do not complain in general terms of stabilisation.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
The hon. Gentleman is wrong as usual, and he gives no facts to substantiate what he is saying, again as usual. I am here to say that what he has said is quite incorrect.
§ Mr. Shepherd
Since the right hon. Gentleman has gained some confidence in this House, he seems to have become very offensive. I did not make this statement without having a clear recollection of what happened upstairs, and I put to him in precise terms this question: would he give an undertaking that as the result of the transfer of these employees to the national Board they would not suffer any loss of emolument. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was that he could not give such an undertaking.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Clause 7 provides that where it is quite impossible on a transfer to put a man in exactly the same position as formerly, compensation can be claimed.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The right hon. Gentleman is apparently not aware of all the stages that have been gone through. 543 There has been a loss of remuneration by these employees of the original Cable and Wireless Limited. They have been transferred from Cable and Wireless Limited as a private concern to a publicly owned concern, and they have suffered loss of remuneration. They have suffered a loss and nothing contained in this Bill is going to affect the loss in which they have been involved. All that we are concerned about now is any potential loss of remuneration that arises from their transfer from the publicly-owned Cable and Wireless to the Post Office. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman, who says that I am always wrong, would have a much better grasp of this matter than he appears to have.
I say in conclusion that I am intensely disappointed that the Post Office take this niggardly view of their obligations. I want to see them going out of their way to instil confidence in these men because many of them have no confidence about their future in the Post Office. I should have thought that this gesture might have been expected from a great organisation like the Post Office.
§ Mr. T. Brown
The reply of the Assistant Postmaster General has gone a short distance in explaining to the House what it is proposed to do in the event of one case or a number of cases being affected by the change-over. He made reference to bringing in the regulations. I have had some experience and I know that the House has had some experience of regulations brought in by Ministers. If my right hon. Friend has brought to his notice one case or a number of cases which have to be covered by regulations, will the regulations be applicable retrospectively? When they come before the House they are dated, and when accepted become operative on a certain date; but the case or cases may be brought to the Postmaster-General's attention long before that date. Could we have an assurance that in the event of such cases being found, the regulations will be dated so as to bring in those cases affected under this Bill?
§ Mr. Foster
I think there has been a misconception about the nature of the bonus. The Financial Secretary rather suggested that it was a cost-of-living bonus. As I expect he has now informed himself, it was not. The Cable and Wire- 544 less bonus was a kind of profit-sharing bonus, founded on a very complicated formula. To put it simply—although this is not quite accurate—it had relation to the standard revenue of £1,200,000, which had to be earned by reference to the original agreement setting up Cable and Wireless. After the standard revenue was earned the employees got what was in effect a share of the profits; as the profits of Cable and Wireless went up the bonus of the employees increased; it was a standard percentage of what they earned. It was increased in certain parts of the world by reference to the cost of living and the exchange position with regard to the £ sterling.
Leaving aside the bonuses for the staff abroad, which were related to the cost of living, we are here talking about a bonus which, in effect, speaking quite broadly, was a kind of profit-sharing bonus. After nationalisation the new managers of the business consolidated the bonus at a standard percentage. I think the Financial Secretary will find that a saving was made by this consolidation; it was not a great saving, but a saving was claimed to be made by the Post Office. Naturally that saving would come largely out of the pockets of some of the employees. I believe that there would be somewhere between 150 and 185 of 190 employees who suffered by this consolidation. The most typical employee who suffered was the skilled telegraph operator in the top category. The categories in Cable and Wireless went largely by seniority, because it was the kind of business in which it could be said that the longer a man was there the more experienced he was, and the categories were not therefore based purely on skill, as in other trades; the categories of pay went by seniority.
I am rather guessing now, but I think that the people who have been affected are those who earned between £12 and £8 a week—quite a high salary. They are the people who compose the large majority of the 190 or 200 people affected. All that this. Amendment seeks to do is to make it mandatory on the Postmaster-General to issue regulations as regards these people. There has been an unfortunate experience in the nationalisation of the coal industry, where although the Government have power to make the regulations, there is no power of forcing them to do so. I know of one case where, because of that, a man 545 is unable to get the compensation to which he is morally entitled. We are here trying to make it mandatory on the Postmaster-General—and there does not seem to be any harm, if he means to do it, why it should not be—to issue regulations to compensate this class of person.
I should be very grateful if the Financial Secretary would indicate whether he agrees broadly with the statements I have made: that there is a class of person who has suffered, that their number is somewhere between 150 and 200, and that they have had quite a considerable drop in remuneration. My recollection from seeing the figures some time ago is that one person suffered a loss of as much as £250 a year, £5 a week—although I may be exaggerating slightly. We want to make certain that such a person is bound to have a regulation issued for him. This is a matter of common justice. These people have a real grievance, and if the making of these regulations were mandatory, the grievance would largely disappear.
As I understand it, the regulations would apply even if the trade union cannot carve out a proper basis of remuneration for these particular people. In other words, the reason this has happened is because the trade union acted largely for the majority of their members and were unable to fit this particular small section into the general scale in their negotiations. I am not certain about that. I merely ask whether that is, in effect, how it has happened. We merely wish to achieve a measure of justice for a minority in the trade union of whom I understand the trade union cannot take care, because it would put out of focus the scale which applies to the majority.
I understand that the Post Office cannot see their way to make proper provision for these people, because it would put out of step the rates paid in the Post Office. The reason these people are in this position is because of the history of Cable and Wireless, the way it grew up, and the way it was amalgamated with the old companies. Perhaps the Financial Secretary would tell us whether what I have said is broadly true, as I believe it to be, and whether the Government could not give an assur- 546 ance that they are bound to issue regulations to take care of those in this industry.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
What the hon. Member says is broadly true, but the inferences he draws from the facts he has given are not correct. The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) made great play with the fact that the consolidation of the profit bonus had been made at a percentage level which did not give to the recipients the same emoluments by way of bonus as they had previously had. That is true; but it does not come into Clause 7 at all, because the consolidation took place in 1947, and was done by agreement with the staff; the associations acting for the staff accepted it as reasonable and just. However, the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. Foster) and the hon. Member for Westbury are quite right in saying that there were a few—I do not know the exact number—who, when the consolidation took place felt that they were not getting the percentage they should have had.
The point is that with a bonus which fluctuates according to profits it may well be that in future lean years they will not get any bonus at all. Therefore the staff had to consider whether to take something worth while now and let it go at that. The staff decided that they would, and, as has been indicated, the percentage was stabilised at a pretty high level. One must also remember that that percentage added to the salary makes both the bonus and the salary—which become one, of course, after consolidation—rank for pension. I think that the settlement was a pretty good one, although I do not doubt that there were one or two in the higher reaches who felt aggrieved. That is something I cannot help, and I freely admit it. But the overwhelming number of those concerned accepted the settlement as reasonable, proper and just to them.
In any case, that was in 1947, and this Bill does not touch them. This Clause deals with a situation that has arisen since that consolidation took place. Therefore, I am afraid that I cannot give the hon. and learned Member the assurance that this Clause should be made in such terms as to re-open the settlement that was reached in 1947. Here we are dealing with an entirely different 547 set of circumstances. The Post Office in future will have to negotiate terms with the staff. This Clause deals with compensation which may fall to be paid under regulations yet to be promulgated, where a man has for one reason or another not received what could be said to carry out the undertaking given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I can assure Members opposite that we have no desire whatever to be unjust to the staff who have been taken over. But we have to remember the history of this matter. It was not only this Government but the Dominions that wanted to see Cable and Wireless taken over and become an inter-Commonwealth organisation. That being so, it is quite obvious that where staff is taken over who were previously spread all over the world it is impossible in the new set-up to put everyone in exactly the same position as he was in before the change took place. In spite of what the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) said, I am positive that we are being just and fair to those concerned, and where it is impossible so to be this Clause will help to take care of them.
§ Mr. Foster
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that what he said about consolidation is rather hard? The vesting date was, of course, January, 1947, but it was the new masters, the Government, that arranged this consolidation. I understand that the only matter with which this Clause deals is the changeover from being employed by Cable and Wireless to being employed by the Civil Service. It seems to me that that is a mere bagatelle compared with the first step the Post Office took, namely, to consolidate the salaries.
§ Mr. Foster
I do not think that that has been appreciated. It certainly was not appreciated that the Government do not propose to do anything about the injustice I have mentioned. When Cable and Wireless was formed, by taking over all the other companies, those that were not put in exactly the same position got full compensation. Surely, when the Post Office has reduced a man's salary by £5 a week and does not give compensation, that is a 548 very terrible thing, although the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to think that it is.
§ Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)
I am grateful to the Financial Secretary for having made clear the relationship of the consolidation of the bonus to pension rights. That has not been properly appreciated. I have taken part in negotiations where diminution of present income was cheerfully accepted by the negotiating body on behalf of the workers because it meant a long-term gain in the form of better security. The Financial Secretary has made it clear that this Amendment does not really affect the position. There is another point I should like to underline, which arises from the remarks of the Assistant Postmaster-General, and that is that it will be very difficult, even were it possible to accept this Amendment, because of the dual nature of the classes of people referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b). The first arepersons who suffer loss of employment in consequence of the giving of effect to Clause 5.I was particularly happy to hear that this provision, wise as it may have been when the Bill was drawn up, is now unnecessary, because it would appear from what the Assistant Postmaster-General said that there will be no persons covered under that category since all the employees of Cable and Wireless can he found places under the new set-up. Therefore, the real question that we are discussing is the people who fall under paragraph (b)—persons who suffer diminution of emoluments or pension rights in consequence of their entering the Civil Service.I feel that the whole basis of salary negotiations would be imperilled if, on a second change such as is contemplated under this Bill, previously negotiated agreements under a different set of circumstances were again brought under discussion. The changes of which the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) complained were fully discussed and agreement was negotiated between the previous employers and the trade unions concerned. I submit that we cannot be concerned with that and that we are concerned only with the conditions of transfer as at the time of this Bill.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will think again about this matter. There is obviously disquiet on both sides about it. The Financial Secretary agreed that in 1947 many people thought that an injustice had been done to them. That was implicit in the remarks he made. The fact that injustice has been done and this Clause cannot remedy it, is no excuse for making a further injustice, even though it be of a limited kind. The right hon. Gentleman said that those who had lost as a result of transfer could be compensated, and that of course is the whole purpose of the Amendment—there is nothing mandatory about it; it is merely permissive. In view of the widespread uncertainty about this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman look at it again between now and Report, in which case we shall be pleased to withdraw the Amendment?
§ Mr. Hobson
I am very sorry, but my right hon. Friend does not see his way to reconsider the Amendment largely for the reasons that have already been indicated. With all due respect to what has been said by Members opposite, I do not think they have proved there is any likelihood of redundancy occurring. That is admitted all along the line. As far as paragraph (a) is concerned, there is complete agreement. But if there is any injustice, even in a single case, I give the assurance that my right hon. Friend will lay a regulation before the House of Commons. We now come to the second class of persons, where exactly the same position arises. If anyone thinks he is aggrieved, a regulation will be made by my right hon. Friend. I appreciate the spirit in which Members opposite have put forward their case, and I hasten to assure them that they need have no fears whatsoever, because should the need arise we shall use this Clause and make the necessary regulation. With that assurance, I hope that Members opposite will see their way to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hobson
The regulations will not be retrospective; there is no equivocation about that statement. When they are made the losses already sustained will be considered.
§ Mr. Grimston
Let us not be confused about this Clause. We agree that it can have nothing to do with what has passed between the old Cable and Wireless setup and the new nationalised set-up, but a legacy has been left behind. A number of the more highly skilled workers are aggrieved. If I may say so without offence, the Financial Secretary seemed to say, "I am sorry, but this particular class have 'had it,' and there it is." These men feel that they have had a raw deal, and it cannot be good for the running of Empire communications that there should be a body of men in the highly skilled trades who are suffering under a sense of grievance. That being so, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have made a gesture, that he would have reconsidered the matter in the interests of running his own show. For that reason, I press him to look at the point again between now and Report.
§ Mr. Skinnard
If my right hon. Friend were to endeavour to do that, he would be upsetting the whole consolidation arrangement which had been come to previously.
§ Mr. Grimston rose—
This discussion is really outside the Clause and the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman has already made his speech and plea to the Minister, and I cannot let him go on any further.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Wilfred Paling
I beg to move, in page 9, line 27, to leave out from "instrument," to "to," in line 28.
I think that the Government Amendment in page 10, line 20, can be taken with this Amendment. Both deal with the question of affirmative resolution procedure rather than procedure for annulment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: in page 10, line 6, leave out "may,"and insert "shall."
In page 10, line 18, leave out from "and," to "paragraph," and insert:
upon a reference under a provision of regulations having effect by virtue of.
In page 10, line 20, at end, insert:
(3) No regulations shall be made under this section unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament."—[Mr. Wilfred Paling.]
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. LENNOX-BOYD:
In page 10, line 20, at end, insert:
In all cases where an appeal from any determination as specified in paragraph (b) of this subsection is successful the referee or board of referees by whom such appeal is determined shall have power to direct that the Postmaster General shall make such payment towards the costs incurred by the parties to the appeal as the referee or board of referees shall think fit. Any such payment made by the Postmaster General shall be treated as a payment which may be deducted from the gross revenue of the Post Office before that revenue is paid into the Exchequer.
I understand that the Chairman has decided that there can be a Division on this Amendment, but no discussion as the point it covers has already been dealt with.
§ Mr. Grimston
The right hon. Gentleman has already said that he would look into it between now and Report, and in those circumstances I do not propose to move the Amendment.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 8 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ First and Second Schedules agreed to. Preamble agreed to.
§ Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered; read the Third time, and passed.
§ Captain Crookshank
On a point of Order. I understand that while my attention was temporarily distracted that the Third Reading was given to the Commonwealth Telegraphs Bill. Was that done deliberately, because we understood we had received certain assurances from the Postmaster-General and it was our intention to discuss certain points at a further stage? If by inadvertence the assent of the House was given to the Third Reading, it is a very grave breach 552 of the understanding which we had across the Table. If, in fact, that is what happened, is it, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, within your power to say there was a mistake?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Bowles)
The position is that we had the Committee stage of the Commonwealth Telegraphs Bill until about 12.30. Then I had to report it to the House, which I did, and as there were no Amendments down for the Report stage I said so and put the Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time." It was so read. There is surely nothing wrong with that. The Postmaster said that he would look at various things, and he will have an opportunity of looking at them.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I might help if I intervene to say that it is likely that the right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) did not hear all that the Minister said. My right hon. Friend indicated that he would look at some of these things during the Bill's passage through another place and he indicated that in his view the House might give the Bill a Third Reading. That would not prevent certain matters, to which he had promised to give consideration, being looked at during its passage in another place. I hope with that assurance that the right hon. Gentleman will be satisfied.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot allow any more discussion on this matter. The Bill has now been read the Third time and it is out of Order to discuss it any further. I allowed the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to raise his point of Order, I said what had happened and the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury also explained the position from the point of view of the Postmaster-General.
§ Captain Crookshank
I understand the answer to my point of Order is that there is nothing that can be done. I can reserve my own view on the matter, but I think it was a piece of sharp practice on the part of the Government.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman should not say that. There is another place to which this Bill is going. I cannot allow any further discussions or accusations of that kind.