HC Deb 17 July 1953 vol 517 cc2460-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this be the Second Schedule to the Bill."

Mr. G. Darling

We had an Amendment down to deal with a point arising on this Schedule, but it was considered better that we should raise the matter now. It refers to that part of the Schedule which says: …a conclusion contained in a report made as aforesaid shall be disregarded if it is not the conclusion of at least two-thirds of the members of the group. There is an arithmetical point which arises, in that two-thirds of the five members of the group equal about four, so that unless the report is signed and the conclusions agreed to by four members of the group we need not take any notice of it. I am sure that that is not the intention how this paragraph of the Schedule should read.

I am concerned about the word "disregarded." If there is a minority opinion of only one member, it should be published. I have tried to find a better word than "disregarded" to suit my views, but have been unable to do so. If I can have an assurance that "disregarded" does not mean that the minority will not be able to publish their views, I shall be perfectly satisfied.

Mr. H. Strauss

I wonder whether the non. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) has overlooked the opening words of paragraph 1 (2) which are: For the purposes of Section 10 of the principal Act". He is concerned with publication, which is not in Section 10 but in Section 9 of the principal Act. The provisions relating to publication contained in Section 9 will apply to any report of a panel exactly as they apply to a report of the whole Commission.

In other words, where there is a public interest report, it will be compulsory to publish it, subject to the provisions of Section 9 of the principal Act, even if enforcement action under Section 10 cannot follow. The object which the hon. Member has in mind is secured. Indeed, it is rather more than secured. If it were otherwise, it would be not only minority opinion but majority opinion which would be in danger. If a panel is divided and the panel's report contains a majority and a minority opinion, both will be published, subject to the requirements of Section 9 of the principal Act.

Mr. Mitchison

My hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) was quite right to ask the question. What has to be published is the report of the Commission, and we wanted to be certain that that report would include the minority as well as the majority report. I am sure that my hon. Friend was very glad to hear that that will be done without going into matters of strict instruction.

Mr. Strauss

What is the report of the panel? Whatever that report is, it must be published, subject to the provisions of Section 9 of the principal Act.

Mr. Mitchison

We are grateful for the assurance that the Parliamentary Secretary or his right hon. Friend will take the steps which are obviously open to them to see that the report, including the minority report, will be published.

Mr. H. Wilson

The passing of this Schedule will complete the Committee stage of the Bill. We have got through the Bill with more than reasonable expedition, although giving the Government a great deal of resistance. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think from the fact that we have conducted the day's proceedings with expedition that we do not feel strongly about some of the things that have been raised. The fact that we did not take the Committee to a Division on more than one of these questions was more connected with the fact that this is Friday than with anything else.

The plain fact is that some of my hon. Friends have read so many articles by hon. Gentlemen opposite about the tremendous tribulations and sufferings that they have to undergo as Members of this House that they felt it incumbent not to keep too many of them here today for the purpose of discussing the items that we have in mind. A number of points have been raised on which we feel extremely strongly, and I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will take account of what has been said and try to help us.

I very much regret his decision about the number of deputy-chairmen but I am sure that he will do his best to give effect to our views. While we congratulate him on getting the Bill, such as it is, through the Committee easily and quickly, we feel that it does not make more than a very marginal attack on the basic problem of monopoly.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I do not hold it against the right hon. Gentleman for not having carried any point on the Second Schedule to a Division. I very much appreciate the co-operation which I have had from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the Committee with a view to improving the Bill, so that it will make a useful contribution to the problems that confront us.

Question put, and agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered: read the Third time, and passed.