HC Deb 15 July 1949 vol 467 cc885-8

The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. TURTON:

In page 7, line 25, at the end, to insert: including a Government Department.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I wish to ask the hon. Member a question in connection with this Amendment to line 25. Does he think that the next Amendment, in line 26, namely, after "business," to insert "or functions," is consequential on the Amendment to line 25?

Mr. Turton

No, Sir, it is quite another point.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Then the hon. Member may move the second Amendment alone.

Mr. Turton

I beg to move, in page 7, line 26 after "business," to insert "or functions."

Now we come back to the old question of weevils and the infestation of food. As Clause 13 is now drafted it will empower or direct every person whose business consists of or includes the manufacture, storage, transport or sale of food to give notice when that food is infested. Our view—and I wish we had a Law Officer of the Crown to advise us—is that this is too narrow. We believe that by this Clause there will be raised the whole question of public boards who can—not be said to be carrying on a business, quite apart from the question of the Government Department, which we are not raising on this Amendment.

The House will recollect that under Clause 22 the Government are being granted special powers to deal with the Railway Executive. It would seem, therefore, that the Railway Executive are covered by Clause 13. If they are covered in Clause 22, they are covered in Clause 13; and if they are covered in Clause 13 we get the Railway Executive storing food, and they are not a Government Department. They are not carrying on the business of storing food, or even the sale of food. They are, in fact, carrying out a function laid on them by Parliament. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will examine this, and will accept this small Amendment which I believe is necessary for drafting purposes.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I beg to second the Amendment.

Mr. G. Brown

Here, again, we have taken the very best advice, and have come to the conclusion that the term "busi- ness," as the Bill now stands, amply covers the example which the hon. Gentleman has given, and all others of a similar nature. Our advice is that the word "function" would have a meaning only if one imported into the Bill Government Departments, of whom it could be said that they were not carrying on a business, but were carrying out a function laid upon them. Organisations like the Railway Executive do carry on a business therefore, the word "business" covers their functions.

Mr. C. Williams

I very much doubt it, for this reason. Whenever I hear of the Government doing something, or refusing to do something, which will make the position of a Department more clear to the ordinary layman—and it would seem to me that by the insertion of the words: including a Government Department"—

Mr. Brown

I am not quite clear about the hon. Member's meaning. The Amendment to insert the words: including a Government Department is not being called by you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. That being so, how can it be said that I am refusing to do something which would make the position of a Government Department clearer?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We are now discussing the Amendment to line 26, and not the Amendment to line 25.

Mr. Williams

I apologise to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I thought the two Amendments were being taken together. That is what you said at first, and then you changed—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman did not hear. I did not change my mind at all. I asked his hon. Friend whether he thought the second Amendment was consequential on the first. He said "No," and in those circumstances, I selected the second Amendment.

Mr. Williams

That is exactly what I intended to say, but I put it in slightly different words. I am not at all satisfied with what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I regret that there should be but a scant number of hon. Members present to deal with this very important matter, which affects every person in the community and that we have no high legal authority here to give us his opinion.

Mr. Turton

Here, I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). I accept the assurance given by the Parliamentary Secretary, and on that account I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.