HC Deb 27 October 1953 vol 518 cc2749-50

Lords Amendment: In line 8, leave out "two." and insert "three."

10.0 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment, which alters the number of deputy chairmen to a maximum of three, represents a compromise reached in another place which is, I think, agreeable to the Opposition here. It will be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) on Second Reading wanted an even larger number, and that larger number to be mandatory. That the Government were unable to accept, but they are prepared to accept the number three as permissive. I should add that we do not think that the need to appoint as many as three is likely to arise, but if the Opposition are proved to be correct it will be useful to have it in the Bill. If they are not proved to be correct it will do no harm.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Of course we welcome this Lords Amendment as far as it goes. We regret that it does not go farther. As the hon. and learned Gentleman has quite correctly said, we proposed that the number should be increased from two to four, and that that provision should be mandatory upon the President of the Board of Trade. To have got three, even though that is only permissive, is an improvement, of course.

I shall not repeat the arguments now that we used on Committee stage in favour of a larger number, but, of course, when the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests that it is not at all certain that even three will be required, that he may not need to take advantage of the Lords Amendment, he must realise that whether two or three or four are required is very much in his own hands and in the hands of the President of the Board of Trade, and if he commends the Lords Amendment in this rather lukewarm fashion by saying he does not think it will be needed but may be, I can only suggest that that rather shows that he does not intend to refer enough cases to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission and to push on with the job with the drive that we on this side of the House urged on him at earlier stages of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to. [Special Entry.]