§ Mr. Gammans
I beg to move, in page 8, line 44, to leave out from "subsection," to the end of line 6, on page 9.
It would be convenient if we could consider at the same time my Amendment in page 9, line 17.
In Committee two Amendments to subsection (1) were accepted which drew more tightly the rules about disqualification. The first, which I proposed myself, was to the effect that persons having control over an advertising agency should come within the range of disqualified persons. The reason for the Amendment was that, without it, it would have been possible for a programme company to form a subsidiary of its own to carry on the business of an advertising agency. That we did not want.
The second Amendment, moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), had the effect of disqualifying any programme contractor that had as director, officer or servant an advertising agent, anybody employed by an advertising agency, anyone controlling an advertising agency, or a director of officer of an advertising agency. As a result of those Amendments, redrafting of the subsection became desirable in the 103 interests of clarity. That is the purpose of this group of Amendments.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 9, line 11, at beginning, insert "(a)."
In line 17, leave out from beginning, to end of line 22, and insert:
(b) being an individual or a body corporate, carries on business as an advertising agent (whether alone or in partnership), or has control over any body corporate which carries on business as an advertising agent, or is a director or officer of any such body corporate, or is employed by any person who carries on business as an advertising agent;
(c) being a body corporate, is under the control of any such person as is mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs of this definition, or of any two or more such persons together, or has among it directors, officers or servants any person who is a disqualified person otherwise than by virtue of paragraph (a) of this definition.—[Mr. Gammans.]
§ Mr. G. Darling
I beg to move, in page 9, line 26, to leave out the second "and," and to insert:(b) if the Authority are not satisfied as regards any one or more programmes that there is not such adequate competition as aforesaid, it shall be duty of the Authority themselves to provide or to secure the provision of the programme or programmes; and(c).It would be convenient, Mr. Speaker, if we could consider with this Amendment the Amendment in page 9, line 38, at the end, to insert:(3) It shall be the duty of the Authority to secure that no programme contractor broadcasts more than one programme at the same time to serve substantially the same reception area.
§ Mr. Darling
I have been pleading for competition in broadcasting and television for about 10 years now at every opportunity I have had. The more I see how things are developing the more I am convinced that I am right, and that there should not be a monopoly of broadcasting or of television in the hands of one body. I do not want the B.B.C. to have a monopoly of public service broadcasting.
§ Mr. Darling
Now that we are providing for a different service I equally 104 do not want to see any one programme company having a monopoly of programme production in commercial television. During our debates on the Bill we have heard much about the virtues of competition, and I, and some of my hon. Friends too, have had to point out from time to time that it would have been an advantage to the Bill and certainly to our debates if the word "competition" had been defined. We have been rather mixed up about its meaning. At the end of our debates I think we ought to get it clear.
What viewers want is alternative programmes, and we want to see several different bodies providing the programmes, if the Bill is to be passed. On the one hand, there will be the B.B.C. providing the public service programmes, and on the commercial side there will be the I.T.A. The Authority itself will not ordinarily be a programme producer. According to the Bill and the Government's statements, it may produce special programmes, but, generally speaking, it will not ordinarily provide programmes. So it is necessary that what competition there is on the commercial television should be provided by the programme companies. If there is to be real competition within the commercial television system, the Authority must make sure that no one company and no one related group of companies operating a network shall have the monopoly of programme output. We think that, in the viewers' interests, it is wrong that monopolies should operate.
Having had some experience of employment in broadcasting, I think it also wrong in the interests of the staff and contributors that the monopoly element should exist. I think it is wrong that the B.B.C. should be the sole employer of people engaged full time in broadcasting and television. On the whole, the B.B.C. is a generous and tolerant employer. It sometimes slips, but, on the whole, it is a very decent employer. From the point of view of those engaged as employees in commercial television it will be far worse if they, having thrown in their lot with commercial television, have only one employer to whom to look. I cannot at this stage develop the arguments at length, but there is need for proper consideration of the question of who is to provide the programmes in the commercial television system.
105 7.0 p.m.
We have heard conflicting arguments about the amount of income that will be provided by the advertisers for the production of programmes. Some hon. Members opposite think it will be a very large income, and that there will be plenty of variety of opportunities because of the large amount of money to be available to produce programmes. There are some among the Opposition who think that that is a very optimistic view to take and that it is more than likely that the amount of money available for programmes will lead to an actual reduction in the quality of programmes because they will on the whole have to be produced on the cheap, as there will not be enough money available from advertising to do the job in a big way.
If we are right, there is a danger that there will not be a big number of programme companies coming into the business. Seeing that the whole purpose of the Bill is to provide competition in place of the present monopoly, and competition within the commercial television system, we think it is desirable, and indeed essential, that our Amendments should be incorporated and made operative so that a duty falls upon the Authority to make sure that there is competition in the provision of programmes. The Authority could produce programmes which would compete with a somewhat monopolistic programme company, if the monopoly situation developed as some of us anticipate it will; or in some other way there should be competition within the system, there being some body competing with the programme companies.
The second Amendment takes this a stage further. The wording is rather difficult, for "programme" has two meanings. However, the purpose is that where it might be possible when the technical resources allow to provide two programmes within, say, the London area, the two services shall not be placed in the hands of one programme company. We do not want one programme company to have the right to provide programmes for the two services. There will have to be at least two companies set up for the purpose.
106 Generally, the purpose of the Amendments is to make sure, by giving the Authority power, that there will be competition within the commercial television system. As this is in line with the purpose of the Bill, I am sure that the Government will accept both Amendments.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I cannot share the optimism of my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) about the likelihood of the Government accepting the Amendments, but I am sure that these proposals should have the warmhearted support of hon. Members who, like myself, have watched with great interest the change of attitude on the part of supporters of competitive television on the question of competition.
There was a time when commercial television was called "competitive television" by hon. Members opposite. I notice that the phrase has become less and less popular on the Government benches. That is for a very good reason. It has now been discovered by hon. Members opposite that competitive television will not work and will not pay and that having programme contractors competing with one another is too expensive and wasteful. The term "competitive television" is dropping out, and we are having more and more indications that the Government are contemplating the establishment of a monopoly of commercial television in each of the three regions envisaged.
The slogans about competition and freedom have done their job. They have bemused enough hon. Members opposite to secure the passage of the Bill through this House. However, those were not the real motives behind the campaign for commercial television. Breaking the B.B.C. monopoly was never the real motive. The motive was to commercialise television and not to secure freedom or to break the monopoly.
One has only to study the first statements made in favour of commercial television to see that they came before there was any suggestion that the B.B.C.'s monopoly was evil and needed to be broken. The first purpose of the campaign was to commercialise television. The arguments about monopoly came later. Now that those arguments have 107 served their purpose they are being abandoned, and the Government are going to try to secure a commercial monopoly in each region under this scheme.
Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing
I must put the hon. Member right on that. I have been concerned with this issue even at times when he has not been in the House. The first principle throughout has been to break the monopoly. Is the hon. Member still true to his line that we should retain the monopoly?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am not denying that the first principle in the propaganda has been to break the monopoly, but I say that the first impulse was commercialisation and that the first impulse came from commercial interests, particularly American-controlled advertising agencies in this country. There is sufficient proof of that to satisfy any researcher. It was at a later stage that hon. Members opposite genuinely believed—I am not suggesting that they were not genuine—that the great issue was that of freedom and competition. It is only now that they realise that that is impracticable, wasteful and uneconomical, and they are beginning to drop their talk of competition. The real nature of the campaign is becoming clear.
The Popular Television Association, which is a body closely associated with the campaign for commercial television, is now openly campaigning for a commercial monopoly in television. Its official literature follows that line. The argument put forward is that television will not otherwise pay. We ought to note this as an historic moment. This is the first time that the argument that it will not pay is being used to weaken the safeguards in the Bill.
The argument that it will not pay is being used to secure a monopoly in commercial television in the regions. Tomorrow the same argument will be used first of all to open the floodgates to imported American television programmes. It will be said that commercial television will not pay unless American television films are shown. Later on, all the safeguards of the Bill will gradually be undermined by the argument that with them the service will be uneconomical. We should record that this is the first 108 use of this argument by the Government to justify the establishment of a monopoly.
First of all, the Government have eliminated the Authority as a competitor to the programme contractors. The Government have now put into the Bill provisions to ensure that the Authority will be hobbled and will not be able to compete with the contractors in the provision of programmes. The Government will say that they are at least providing competition with the B.B.C. I give them credit for that. I am sure that that is in their minds at the moment. Although they cannot secure competition between the contractors themselves and between the contractors and the Authority, they feel that they will at least provide competition between commercial television and the B.B.C. My guess is that they will not hold that position for a very long time because the commercial interests concerned are beginning to turn against the idea of competition with the B.B.C.
I have here a very interesting statement by a new firm, T.V. Commercials, Limited, which will obviously dominate the provision of the actual television advertisements in this country. In its brochure giving a preview of advertising by television in Great Britain we get a hint of future events with regard to competition with the B.B.C. The brochure states:While the peak periods of viewing must inevitably be the evening hours, it is to be hoped that the I.T.A. schedule of transmissions will not parallel that of the B.B.C., for if two stations are operating at the same time the audience must be shared between them. It will therefore help commercial television to do an advertising job if the commercial schedules are longer than or different from those of the B.B.C. and consequently some, at least, of the programmes are on the air at times when the B.B.C. is not operating. This, almost more than anything else, could help to build viewership to commercial television programmes quickly.Therefore, the interests, having successfully persuaded the Government to prevent competition between the contractors themselves and between the contractors and the Authority, are launching a claim that competition with the B.B.C. itself must also be prevented in the interests of profitability. How can we be sure that the Government will not give way on this point also? All the way along they have 109 given way on these points to the commercial interests concerned. There will not be competition with the B.B.C., for instance, on the transmitters and the masts. Anything that really seems to stand in the way of the economics of the programme contractors, the Government amend daily and change their policy accordingly. I believe that the question of the "Radio Times" will be raised in due course. In these ways, freedom, competition, all the slogans under which this campaign was launched, will be thrown overboard in the interests of a commercial monopoly.
I should like to commend this Amendment on the ground that the programme contractors under this scheme will be altogether far too powerful. They will be far too powerful in relation to the I.T.A. What are the sanctions which the I.T.A. is to have if these programme contractors have the monopoly? Let us imagine a programme contractor with a monopoly in the London area. How is the I.T.A. going to assert itself against such a programme contractor? In the last resort, its only sanction is to cancel the contract.
What will that mean? No one will be ready to take over the interests of this one monopoly contracting concern in London. There will be no one ready to step into the shoes of the contractor who has his contract cancelled. The I.T.A. is not allowed to own studios, and will not be able to fill the gap caused by the cancellation of the contract. The I.T.A. will have to provide the programme for London on its second television programme. The instruments of power which lie to hand for the programme contractors to fight the battle with the I.T.A. are very formidable indeed.
The power of the programme contractor in relation to the I.T.A. will be out of all measure far too powerful. He will use precisely the same slogans of freedom; he will quote Milton, as quoted in respect of the commercial television service generally. The same old slogans which have fastened commercialism upon us will be used to strengthen the programme contractor in the battle with the I.T.A.
I would say particularly that this applies in reference to London. London is by far the most important of the three regions concerned in terms of prestige 110 and capital and because it will probably be the first station to operate. For all these reasons, to have a single monopoly or even two programme contractors for the London area would, in my view, be creating far too great a power in a single hand. The monopolist who controls London television will be one of the most powerful men in this country, the Lord Beaverbrook of television; irresponsible, prejudiced, powerful, appointed in secret by a small group of shareholders—and all this system in the name of freedom, as we saw when this campaign was launched.
I would ask the Government to be perfectly frank with us on this point. If they really intend to prevent monopoly in the regions, let them tell us so and not hide behind the I.T.A. This is a tremendously important political and social question of whether one man or one single group of men shall have the commercial monopoly of television in a vast region like the London area.
If the Government mean this to happen, let them tell the House so frankly, and if not, let them write into the Bill a provision, such as my hon. Friend has put forward, which will prevent that from happening.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Captain Orr
I do not want to take up much of the time of the House, but it is perfectly clear that the hon. Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Mayhew) has failed to read the speech which I made upon this subject when we were in Committee. Therefore, I feel obliged to refresh his memory, in view of some of the extraordinary nonsense which he talked about competition just now. He was just as nonsensical as he was about this question of the whole thing having been started by the pressure from commercial interests—something which has been repeatedly said from the benches opposite and which has never been substantiated.
We have not had one single word of substantiation or one single piece of evidence on this subject. The hon. Member who has just spoken did not produce any in his speech. I know that he knows quite a lot about these things and has thought deeply on the subject, but he has not got down to this question of competition in television at the beginning. It is worth while remembering that we are 111 dealing with a new experiment, with a service which is just starting, and with very limited frequency channels.
The number of frequency channels is limited, but they will not always be limited. That is worth bearing in mind. Although there are only a number of channels in Band III available, eventually the whole of Band III may be cleared, if some reasonable arrangement can be made for the users already on it. In the future, there is no reason why vast sections of the frequency spectrum up above, from Band IV, upwards, should not be opened up. Therefore, we have to think how exactly we are to achieve competition in the beginning.
There are in fact only two ways of doing it as I think the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) will agree. Either we have to get a number of programme contractors together and say to them, "Will you form a national network—will you operate on the Monday, you operate on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and you operate on the Thursday and Friday, and so on?"; or we have to say, "You will have the London area, you will have the Birmingham, and you will have the Manchester area." That is the only way in which it can be done.
§ Mr. Darling
When the hon. and gallant Gentleman says, "You will have to do this and do that" does he mean the I.T.A. or this group of commercial companies?
§ Captain Orr
I was talking about the I.T.A. The duty is laid on the I.T.A. of securing competition. The only way in which the I.T.A. can do it is by either of those two means. In the first alternative I have mentioned, I am quite certain that there would not be true competition at all. If we get one or two or more programme contractors and say, "We want you to form a national network," that group together will have a complete national monopoly on any one day. That monopoly can only be broken by the setting up of a complete range of national transmitters.
The only way in which competition can be provided is to have one programme contractor to one transmitter. In the very beginning it may be a regional monopoly; it cannot be avoided because 112 of the shortage of the frequency space; but a national monopoly can be avoided.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Is it the hon. and gallant Member's contention that if the vertical method of allotting the transmission were applied—that is, one programme company to one station—that would give regional monopoly?
§ Captain Orr
No, that is not quite my view. I said that in the initial stages certainly it would be a regional monopoly.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
And if in the initial stages, whilst there is only one transmission under the I.T.A.'s control in the region, the hon. and gallant Member would no doubt agree that it is a regional monopoly for that period. Would he not also say that if it is worked on a horizontal basis—that is, the programme companies combining together to form a network—that in turn is a national monopoly?
§ Captain Orr
It is a monopoly in the beginning in so far as there is a shortage of wavelengths. Remember that there is the B.B.C. as well. The B.B.C. might not advertise, but nevertheless it could hardly be said that there is entirely a monopoly in broadcasting. Nevertheless, if we are talking about commercial television alone, it is true that in that one region, one contractor has a monopoly.
If the other method—what the right hon. Gentleman calls the horizontal method—were employed, there would be a group of people having a complete national monopoly at the very beginning, I fully agree. But if the horizontal system is to be broken, if we are to move into the sphere of competition, the only way that the Authority can do so is to set up a complete network of national transmitters. With the other way, to take what the right hon. Gentleman calls the vertical method—one contractor to one transmitter—the regional monopoly in commercial television is easily broken by the setting up of one single transmitter.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Would the hon. and gallant Member, therefore, not be in favour of our second Amendment, which 113 says that one programme contractor should not get more than one programme in each region?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The effect of it would be that a single programme contractor must not have more than one programme in one region or area of listening. If two programmes were available, they must be given to two different contractors.
§ Captain Orr
I should not go quite so far as that. When Bands IV and V are opened up, there is no reason why there might not be a multiplicity of transmitters, and then I should not necessarily like to say that one programme contractor might not, perhaps, have two transmitters as against somebody else's three, or something like that. There is no question of monopoly in that system.
Once the thing gets started, it may not be very long before we have another frequency channel available, say, for London. It may be possible that when another channel is opened up, the same channel could be allotted to Scotland and to Birmingham. In that case, as the Scottish station was opened up, it might he said, "We are able to have two transmitters in Birmingham," and the monopoly, if that is what hon. Members like to call it, would be broken in the Birmingham area, while that position might still exist for a while in London.
Obviously, the horizontal method is the only one by which we can achieve competition. There is no other way of achieving it between programme contractors. The idea that the Authority should let out one hour to one contractor and another hour to another contractor, and that sort of thing, is complete and utter nonsense. Anybody who looks into the thing or who knows anything about television knows that it is nonsense. These are the only two methods of doing it.
I should have thought it was becoming fairly obvious now that what the Authority will have to do in the first instance is to contract its London transmitter to one contractor, its Birmingham transmitter to another, and its Manchester and Scottish transmitters to other programme contractors. That is the only way in which it can be done.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
What has surprised me about the debates is the extent to which hon. Members opposite have left the defence of the Bill to the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr). The second thing that surprises me is the confidence with which he told the Committee and now tells the House what will and will not happen under the Bill. I wonder whether we are likely to know what special claim he has to both these important rôles in our debates.
The more one looks at the Bill, the more astonishing it becomes as a candidate for the Statute Book. The Amendments that we are discussing try to strengthen the duties of the Authority under subsections (2) and (3), both of which begin with the words:It shall be the duty of the Authority to do all that they can to secure. …something or other. In the case of subsection (2), it is the Authority's dutyto do all that they can to secure that there is adequate competition to supply programmes between a number of programme contractors independent of each other both as to finance and as to control.Subsection (3) says that it shall be the Authority's dutyto do all that they can to secure that no programme contractor acquires any exclusive or other rights in respect of the broadcasting of any matter in sound only from stations in the United Kingdom.…One wonders how we shall ever know whether the Authority has done all that it can do, and what will happen if it does not do it. The Amendments seek to give the Authority means of discharging this duty.
When one considers the wording of the two subsections that we now propose to amend and all the blah—there is no other word for it—in Clause 3, one surely is driven to the conclusion that we ought to change the name of the Bill. It ought to be "Television (Worthy Motives) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill." The whole bag of tricks, all the worthy motives are here—"predominantly British." "nothing shall be included to offend against good taste or decency," "nothing that is offensive to public feeling" and all the rest. We have had all this out, but now we have another example of the same kind of thing.
115 7.30 p.m.
What the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South has just said confirms what my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, that the only element of competition that will eventually remain will be the competition with the B.B.C. There will not be competition within the new Independent Television Authority. The hon. and gallant Member said that it is utter nonsense to suggest that one hour of programme time can be given to one programme contractor and another hour to another. He is, of course, only quoting, in extreme form, the philosophy which he holds that it is really nonsense to have two programme contractors doing two separate programmes from the same station covering the same area. That is where he will get in the end, I am quite certain.
§ Captain Orrindicated dissent.
§ Mr. Houghton
The second Amendment deals with what is at present not an immediate prospect, that of having two programmes under the I.T.A. in particular areas. It is likely to have only one at present. The Amendment provides against the time when it may be possible to have two programmes under the I.T.A. in a particular area—in addition, of course, to the B.B.C. The Amendment says:It shall be the duty of the Authority to secure"—not "to do all that they can," not to hope for the best or express a mere sentiment and hope that these commercial racketeers will respect it. It is the duty of the Authority "to secure," and if it does not secure it will have failed in its duty, and if the Amendment is accepted, for once in a way something will be explicitly written into the Bill.
The first Amendment tries to give what the Government have been persistent in preventing the I.T.A. having, namely, the right to have programmes of its own and to displace, if it feels necessary, the programme contractor, and run the programme on its own. Numerous defences of that prohibition have been uttered by Government spokesmen from time to time, but how can the Government oppose an Amendment which seeks to put competition into commercial broadcasting, when the very first word 116 used by the Government in connection with this Bill was "competition"? An "element of competition" was the first term used by the Government in foreshadowing the introduction of this Bill. We want to put competition into commercial broadcasting.
The duty of the Authority under subsection (2) isto do all that they can to secure that there is adequate competition …but it is not stated what the I.T.A. can do if it does not secure adequate competition. The Amendment says that if the Authority is not satisfied—and that is an easy state of mind to determine—it can do something positive:It shall be the duty of the Authority themselves to provide or to secure the provision of the programme or programmes.It will be interesting to hear what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to say when he tells us that these two Amendments would mess everything up, or that they are unnecessary or unworkable, or that there will be some special divine blessing resting on the I.T.A. which renders unnecessary all these unworthy suspicions or desires to give the Authority strength of hand as well as of character. I hope that at this late hour in the protracted discussions on this Bill we shall get some sign from the Government that they are as determined as we on these benches are to see that there is competition within what is alleged to be a competitive television system.
I sincerely hope that we shall have a modest degree of success at this late hour in respect of Amendments which derive from the most desirable of intentions; indeed, nothing could be nearer the desires of the Government, surely, in this Bill than to make competition really competitive, knowing for once that we as the Opposition are behind them in that desire. I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman not to lose a most valuable opportunity of availing himself of our support.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Welsh Affairs (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I am sorry, after the eloquent appeal which the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has made, that I am not in a position to satisfy him by accepting the Amendments. I shall, however, try to fulfil the other part of his request by dealing with the arguments 117 which he advanced, but I know that he will not think it wrong if, for a moment, I go back to his predecessors in debate and deal with some of the points which they have raised.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling), who moved the Amendment, did so from the attitude of mind of one who was doubtful whether the programme contractors would secure the amount of money necessary and whether they would, therefore, be able to function. That is a point which has been raised many times in our debates. If I may give the hon. Member a collective reference, I would remind him of the speeches which have been made by his hon. and right hon. Friends as to the immense amount of money available for advertising, when they were pressing that aspect as a serious part of the case.
Therefore, I do not accept that the difficulty which the hon. Member finds is a real one. I remind him of the provision in Clause 2 (2, b), which lays down that the Authority may arrangefor the provision … of, or, if need be, themselves provide, programmes … so far as may be necessary by reason of any temporary lack of … programme contractors. …The object of that provision—I do not think there is any disagreement upon it—is to ensure that the public shall not be deprived of programmes altogether.
I wish to bring the attention of the House back to the Amendment which has been moved. Its purpose is to lay on the Authority the dutyto provide or to secure the provision …of a programme if they are not satisfied that there is adequate competition among programme contractors. I have listened very carefully to the speeches which have been made, and the difficulty I have seen is that if one makes the assumption which the Amendment does, that there is not sufficient competition, that the programme contractor at a particular place is not providing a suitable competitive programme with others, the Authority must be prepared and ready all the tune to put on a programme itself.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite intend by that, and this is the real purpose of the Amendment, to put the Authority in such a position vis-à-vis the programme contractors that no reasonable programme contractor could operate—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is 118 my view, and I should like to develop it. Do not let us have a sham fight about this; let us have a fight on the real issue. This is the real issue: hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well that, human nature being what it is, if the Authority is once put in the position that it has to provide programmes, except in the case, which I accept, of there being a breakdown, the Authority is being put in the most difficult position that any body can be in. It is to supervise, to control, to decide whether the programme companies are keeping up to the standards, and all the time—which is really what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite want—it is to be in the position of being encouraged and inspired itself to put on programmes.
They know very well that were that situation brought about it would kill our scheme, and that, of course, is really what they would like to see. I think, therefore, that one has to deal with the point—and I will deal quite shortly with it, because we have argued it a great deal—about whether we really want, and whether our scheme really implies, competition. On the first point, one can only refer to what amounts, I am afraid, to an enormous number of words which I have spoken on the matter. I should like the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) to go back to my first speech which I made two years ago on this point, when I tried to argue it in as reasonable and objective a way as I could. I endeavoured to show why I thought that competition was desirable. One turns from that—because it is no use repeating these matters, and it is no good—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) is one of the kindest of colleagues but, as that speech, I am sorry to say, lasted for 57 minutes, he does not know what he is bringing upon himself.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The point I was making was that the attitude of the Government has changed. Whereas it is true that two years ago the right hon. and learned Gentleman stated specifically that there must be competition between the programme contractors, the Government have not said that recently. If he will 119 say today what he was saying two years ago—that there is to be competition between the programme contractors—I think that would be some reassurance.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
That was what I was going on to say as my second point, the practical point, about whether our suggestions will bring competition. I believe that they will. If anyone on this side of the House makes the clear and obvious point that the first competition is between the B.B.C. and someone else, that is not accepted. But that is our first point, as the hon. Member for Sowerby brought out in terms in discussing the first words of the Bill. I do not wish to go into the matter of Greek derivations but "monopoly," in its strictest sense, is one, and it is the beginning of a break in a monopoly if you have two. That, at any rate, is a start.
What is apparently worrying hon. Gentlemen opposite is that if the Authority decides to do it on the vertical basis we shall only have one arbiter in the various regions. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) put the answer to that which everyone knows. We are not dealing with a static position. We are not even dealing with a slowly dynamic factor in the world. We are dealing with a factor which is increasing and changing and adding to its powers almost daily—certainly monthly and yearly—and to take the position which will obtain under that disposition for some time as being in any way a statification of the monopoly position is, in my view, completely wrong.
§ Mr. Shackleton
What does the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean by the "stratification of the monopoly position?"
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Gentleman did not hear me correctly. I said "statification" which is the making, the crystallising or freezing of the position as it is today—[Laughter.] I am sorry if I seemed to put an unnecessary "r" in the word. If I did, I apologise. I was using a comparison which the hon. Gentleman, as an accomplished debater, knows comes into practically every debate when you compare the dynamic and the static. I 120 am saying that this is dynamic, and I am sure that he will not disagree.
On the other point, I think it essential to say that we shall find the maximum of competition in the technical position which exists at the time. That is what we are going to do and, as time goes on, we hope and believe that there is no other possibility than that competition will increase.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be taking refuge in the technical question of wavelengths, and saying that all we shall have today is one programme contractor in London until there are more wavelengths. Will he explain what are the grounds of public interest for having only one person using one transmitter instead of two or three? We admit that it is less profitable, but what are the grounds of public interest for that?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The grounds of public interest are two; that the public must have a second programme, and that that second programme must be given to them by someone other than the B.B.C.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) may get a chance to speak later, and perhaps he will allow me to continue—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Member for Sowerby appealed for both Amendments and especially, if I understood him correctly, for the second Amendment the object of which is to secure that no programme contractor should broadcast more than one programme in the same area. That is unnecessary. After listening carefully to all the speeches, I cannot envisage any situation in which the contingency against which the hon. Member wishes to provide is likely to arise. Regarding his reference to Clause 5 (2), I would say to him that 121 it would be useful if he would read the remaining words dealing with the subject.It shall be the duty of the Authority to do all that they can to secure that there is adequate competition to supply programmes between"—these are the words the hon. Member did not read—a number of programme contractors independent of each other both as to finance and as to control. …That is a clear duty laid on the Authority, and it is a duty which is none the less laid upon it because it is put in the form that it has to do all that it can. That means that in every part of the work it has to keep this point in mind. In my view, if that responsibility is laid upon the Authority it is unnecessary to lay down as meticulously as this Amendment seeks to do the methods by which it will be carried out.
As I stated in relation to the previous Amendment, the way in which competition will develop must be decided by the circumstances in which television itself develops during the next year or two. I believe that the specific need referred to in the Amendment is one which the Authority must clearly have in mind, that the Authority will carry out the duty laid upon it and that it is unnecessary to make this amendment to the Bill.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has genuinely misunderstood my intervention and I wonder whether, on reflection, he will give a clearer answer. We all know that it would be more profitable to have a monopoly of the London region, but I asked what ground of public interest, apart from profitability, there is for having one programme contractor wholly in London and not two, three or four on the same transmitter.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I thought that the hon. Member was referring to the more general public interests which we were discussing, because in part of his speech he ranged fairly widely. I certainly did not mean to evade the point that he made. The public interest is that that is a way in which we shall have better programmes and that it is in that way in which we shall give people what is wanted—good, sound alternative programmes.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
We are playing with words. Even the hon. Member for Kilmarnock knows the difference between one and two. When we have two we no longer have a monopoly. That, at any rate, is clear. We have the competition of the regional station, on the basis that we are accepting, that there is the B.B.C., and we have the fact, as my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General pointed out, that this is a growing discovery in which we are bound to have greater monopoly as the years go by. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sorry, I am told that I said "greater monopoly." I meant, of course, greater competition.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I have heard the Home Secretary make many skilful speeches answering the arguments from the other side of the House, but I have never before heard him trying to answer himself. If he will read tomorrow the report of the first part of his speech and, after a short lapse of time, read the second part he will find that in the second part he has completely destroyed the argument of the first part. I thought that in his speech he was justifying our Amendment in page 9, line 38, to secure that… no programme contractor broadcasts more than one programme at the same time to serve substantially the same reception area.During our debate we have often heard the unofficial voice below the Gangway telling us one thing, only to be denied later on by the Assistant Postmaster-General or the Home Secretary. Today we are told that whether there is a horizontal arrangement, that is three programme companies running a network of three transmitters, or whether there is a vertical monopoly, that is one programme company running one transmitter, in each case it is either a regional monopoly or a national monopoly.
§ Captain Orr
The right hon. Gentleman must not misrepresent me in that way. I said that there would be two important qualifications. One was that the word "monopoly" was only used in that context if one was talking about commercial television only and not the B.B.C. The second was—I am sorry I have forgotten what it was.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The hon. and gallant Member has made so many embarrassing confessions today that at last he has confounded himself. The fact is 123 that, with all the reservations, a television advertising monopoly will exist either in the regions or nationally, and is likely to exist for some time.
§ Captain Orr
The right hon. Gentleman has now reminded me of the second qualification. It is that we were now at the beginning of a service which was likely to expand.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I do not know whether that is a complete answer to the Home Secretary, who talked about freezing monopoly.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
We must look at the facts, which are that the frequencies that are available are in Band III. Two of them, which are immediately available, are being allocated to commercial television. We may have an announcement tomorrow or the day after that another has been acquired and given to the B.B.C. So long as two frequencies are available, the position remains as it is—that we shall have an advertising monopoly, either regionally or nationally. When the Home Secretary speaks of the difference between one and two he fails to take into account that No. 2 is different in character from No. 1. No. 2 breaks the first monopoly but is in itself a monopoly, of advertising. Therefore, a new monopoly has been created in that sense. I believe that the Home Secretary shakes his head. Is he going to say that someone else is going to advertise?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Are we now told that the B.B.C. is going into commercial television? The Home Secretary might answer reasonably. He knows that it is not. We all know that the B.B.C. must be non-commercial. Therefore, the only commercial organisation that we shall have will be the I.T.A., and in that sense it will have an advertising monopoly. Surely there can be no dispute about that.
I am astonished that the Home Secretary, who is usually so very courteous and helpful to the House, tries to explain away the fact that he and his hon. and right hon. Friends, under the cloak of breaking a monopoly, are creating a special monopoly. When he is asked to 124 provide for a breach of the second monopoly he refuses. He justifies the breaking of the first monopoly by the creation of the second. When we ask that the second shall be broken by the injection of competition and the creation of other things, he resists it. It seems to me that the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot have both cases, because one contradicts the other.
We were told that we were being wicked, that we were giving to the I.T.A. power to set up its own competing programmes where it was satisfied that adequate competition could not exist. We were told that we were trying to ruin the programme companies. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman take the position that the I.T.A. must be completely under the control of the programme companies? Is that the position?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the I.T.A. is there to control the programme companies, but, after all, the I.T.A. will be completely in the hands of the programme companies because he refuses to give the I.T.A. the opportunity of setting up a yardstick to determine how much a programme costs. How is the I.T.A to charge programme companies for the use of its facilities? What yardstick will it have? In order to have balanced programmes, surely it must have some regard to the cost of production of programmes. Is the I.T.A. to have no independent yardstick of its own? Is it to be completely at the mercy of the programme companies in these matters?
It seems to me that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is creating circumstances in which the I.T.A. will probably lose money and the programme companies will get some fat pickings. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) that the I.T.A. is being put at an impossible disadvantage. It will probably make very great losses of public money. The greater its losses are, the greater will be the pickings of the programme companies. It will be a case of private enterprise thriving at the expense of the public purse.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
What difficulty does the right hon. Gentleman envisage in the I.T.A. fixing a proper economic rent for the programme companies? He could do it when he was at the Post Office; he could carry out a little thing like that without any great trouble at all. Perhaps the Authority may not be as good at it as he is, but what difficulty does he envisage?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has put that very slickly. The present Postmaster-General does not know anything at all about artistic work. He does not know anything about the fees charged by some of the prima donnas, and I suppose there are more prima donnas in the theatrical world than there are in the political world. I should have thought that this was a sphere in which the poor Postmaster-General was at a most complete disadvantage.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I was merely indicating a standard for the Authority. Why does the right hon. Gentleman think that the Authority will have any difficulty in fixing an economic rent for a programme company?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I should have thought that that was fairly obvious. First of all, the Authority has to provide stations, and it may have to provide studios and outside cameras. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has repeatedly said, this is a new field in which few people have experience. Now we are creating an Authority and expecting it to know beforehand exactly how much the costs in the new sphere will be.
However, the Government have got rid of the I.T.A. as a competitor of the programme companies. I cannot understand what the Government have in mind as to the way in which the job is to be done. What do the Government intend? Is it to be one programme company per station? Are three programme companies to have the complete network? Is there to be the further alternative of each station having three programme companies and no network, the three programme companies dividing the time between them and thus breaking the regional monopoly? Is that to be the position? Is it to be the duty of the Authority to provide for the maximum competition between the programme com- 126 panies? That is a simple question, and the two Amendments deal with it.
The second Amendment deals with the further point that we have got rid of the freezing monopoly. When a third frequency is available in the London region, is the same programme company to be allowed to use not only the first transmitter but also the second, or will one programme company be allocated to one transmitter or will it be given two transmitters? Our Amendment says that one programme company shall not have more than one transmitter at its disposal. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman wants to break the monopoly or not create an additional monopoly he must agree with the terms of the Amendment.
I should have thought that our two Amendments provided the degree of competition in commercial television about which hon. Members opposite have spoken so much. Are we once again to come to the conclusion that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have used Tory Party doctrine and dogma to protect their private interests or the private interests of their friends and backers?
§ Mr. Shackleton
I have a request to make to the Home Secretary, and it is that tomorrow he should read the speech he made today. It will probably be rather a painful experience. I do not know whether at the end of it he will have a clear understanding of what he meant to say, but I hope he will do better than most of us did when listening to him.
His line today was quite different from his line on Second Reading when he very clearly said that the Authority would have to aim at getting enough programme Contractors to ensure real competition. On that occasion there was no talk about "statification." It did not become the Home Secretary to suggest that our Amendment was merely a device to do his beloved programme contractors out of their profits. In putting down the Amendment, the Opposition have been perfectly sincere in attempting to provide powers for ensuring competition which would represent real teeth and not the false teeth about which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) spoke.
Once again, the Government will not provide these powers. They are prepared, if necessary, to forget their fine 127 words about competition. They are falling back upon a much simpler version of the words they uttered about breaking monopoly. They are not prepared to take steps to ensure that programmes are distributed more widely throughout the country, which the second Amendment would help to do. The Home Secretary's speech was one of the most disappointing and one of the most contemptible that he has made.
§ Mr. Hobson
The main ground for introducing the Bill was that it would break the monopoly of the B.B.C. The argument before us now is that, as a result of the economics of sponsored television, it is now necessary, in order to get a suitable programme contractor, to have a monopoly for that person.
The Home Secretary may think that he is breaking a monopoly by setting up another one, but I cannot see the logic of his argument. It is all wrong. I believe that the Government are looking a little further ahead in respect of the many technical changes which are rapidly taking place in television reception. I wonder if what the Government are doing is the result of further advice which has been tendered by the Post Office engineers concerned with this problem.
We all know that, in Germany in particular, it is possible to set up a transmitting station by means of which, provided that it is within visual distance of the people receiving the signal in Band III, on which the sponsored television programmes are to take place,
§ signals on Band IV can be received. It is only a short step now to getting the necessary gadgets available on the market to enable Band IV signals to be received. If that is what has been accepted by the Post Office, the situation is that more stations will be available and there will be more fields in which it will be economical for programme contractors to work. The Assistant Postmaster-General ought to tell us if that is what is to happen.
§ The fact remains that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) said, the monopoly has not been broken up. Whatever words come from the Government Front Bench, there is bound to be a monoply because the programme contractor will find that his activities will not pay him unless he has a monopoly. The practice will be such that there will have to be a monopoly. If, on the other hand, as a result of the development which has taken place already in Germany, it is possible, as a result of having channels on Band III radiated on Band IV, the point can be conceded. I suggest, however, that it is no good the Home Secretary coming to the House and rejecting our Amendment merely on the lines which he has argued this evening. The fact remains that no programme contractor will think it worth while to tender unless he is given a monopoly either for the London or Birmingham areas.
§ Question put, "That 'and' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 263: Noes, 244.131
|Division No. 162.]||AYES||[8.11 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braine, B. R.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Crouch, R. F.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W H||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Broomary-White, R. C.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Deedes, W. F.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G T||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Barber, Anthony||Bullard, D. G.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Burden, F. F. A.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Campbell, Sir David||Grayson, G. B.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Drewe, Sir C.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Channon, H.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T (Richmond)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxeth)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D M|
|Birch, Nigel||Cole, Norman||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Colegate, W. A.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Erroll, F. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fisher, Nigel|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Longden, Gilbert||Robertson, Sir David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Low, A. R. W.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fort, R.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McAdden, S. J.||Russell, R. S.|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||McCallum, Major D.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Gammans, L. D.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Glover, D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Schofield, Lt-Col. W.|
|Godber, J. B.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Scott, R. Donald|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Shepherd, William|
|Gower, H. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maclean, Fitzroy||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Grimond, J.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St Albans)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maitland, Comdr, J. F. W (Horncastle)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Speir, R. M.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, A. A. H||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Marples, A. E.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hay, John||Maude, Angus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maudling, R.||Storey, S.|
|Heath, Edward||Maydon, Lt-Comdr S. L. C||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Medlicott, Brig. F||Studholme; H. G.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Mellor, Sir John||Summers, G. S.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Molson, A. H. E.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Moore, Sir Thomas||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Teeling, W.|
|Holt, A. F.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hope, Lord John||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Neave, Airey||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C N.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Noble, Comdr. A. H P||Tilney, John|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J||Oakshott, H. D.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Odey, G. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co Antrim, N.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Osborne, C.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Page, R. G.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Kaberry, D.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B||Peyton, J. W. W.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Pickthorn. K. W M||Wellwood, W.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pitman, I. J.||Williams, Rt Hon Charles (Torquay)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Powell, J. Enoch||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O L||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Profumo, J. D.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wills, G.|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Redmayne, M.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Rees-Davies, W. R|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Remnant, Hon. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Renton, D. L. M.||Mr. Vosper and Mr. Robert Allan.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Ridsdale J. E.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Botlomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Clunie, J|
|Adams, Richard||Bowden, H. W.||Coldrick, W.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bowles, F. G.||Collick, P. H.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Brockway, A. F.||Cove, W. G.|
|Allen, Schofield (Crewe)||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Crosland, C. A. R.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Cullen, Mrs. A.|
|Baird, J.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Davies, P.|
|Bartley, P.||Burke, W. A.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)|
|Benson, G.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Callaghan, L. J.||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Blackburn, F.||Carmichael, J.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Blyton, W. R.||Champion, A. J.||Deer, G.|
|Boardman, H.||Chetwynd, G R||Delargy, H. J|
|Dodds, N. N.||Kinley, J.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lawson, G. M.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Ross, William|
|Edelman, M.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Royle, C.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lewis, Arthur||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lindgren, G. S.||Short, E. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Logan, D. G.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||MacColl, J. E.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Fernyhough, E.||McInnes, J.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Fienburgh, W.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Finch, H. J.||McLeavy, F.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Follick, M.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Snow, J. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Sorenson, R. W.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Manuel, A. C.||Sparks, J. A|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A||Steele, T.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mason, Roy||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mayhew, C. P.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mellish, R. J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Messer, Sir F.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mikardo, Ian||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mitchison, G. R.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Hale, Leslie||Monslow, W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Moody, A. S.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Morley, R.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Hannan, W.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mort, D. L.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hastings, S.||Moyle, A.||Thornton, E.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mulley, F. W.||Timmons J.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Nally, W.||Tomney, F.|
|Healy, Cahir (Fermanagh)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Oldfield, W. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Oliver, G. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Orbach, M.||Wade, D. W.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Oswald, T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Holman, P.||Padley, W. E.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Paget, R. T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||West, D. G.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pannell, Charles||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pargiter, G. A.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parker, J.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Parkin, B. T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paton, J.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pearson, A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Peart, T. F.||Willey, F. T.|
|Janner, B.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Popplewell, E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Porter, G.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'H'y)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Proctor, W. T.||Willis, E. G.|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Pryde, D. J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rankin, John||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Reeves, J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Keenan, W.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Kenyon, C.||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Rhodes, H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wallace.|
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
I beg to move, in page 10, line 2, after "provisions," to insert:(including provisions for the purposes set out in the Third Schedule to this Act).This is the first of a series of Amendments which deal with two particular points. The other Amendments are in page 10, lines 7, 11, 16, 22, 29 and 36, and in page 11, line 17.
132 During the Committee proceedings, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) said it was objectionable that a penalty for breach of contract by a programme contractor should be determined by the Authority. The Bill at present provides for the question whether or not there was a breach of contract to be determined by an arbitrator, but the Authority is to assess the penalty.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I take it that most of the later Amendments mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman are consequential on the first two.
§ The Solicitor-General
It is the other way. The earlier Amendments are paving the way for those that come at the end. They are to meet not only the points made by my hon. and learned Friend but also other points stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Robson Brown). After considering what my hon. Friends said, the Government have decided that the change should be made, and that the amount of penalty should be determined, in the event of dispute, by an arbitrator. If the Amendment is accepted, the Authority will allege a breach and demand a penalty. If the programme contractor disputes the breach, the case goes to arbitration, and if he wishes to dispute the penalty demanded by the Authority, that will now go to arbitration also.
This change is effected by the Amendment to line 29, which substitutes for a penaltyexigible by virtue of this subsectionthe phrasewhich may be demanded by the Authority.Linked with that Amendment is the one in line 36, which inserts, after "aforesaid":or as to the amount demanded by way of penalty in respect of any such breach.These Amendments do not alter the maximum amount imposable as penalty.
The other important point raised by this series of Amendments is contained in the Amendment to page 11, line 17, which adds a new subsection to Clause 5. A suggestion was put forward in Committee that subsections (5) and (6) eliminated all rights at common law in respect of breaches of contract. I do not think that view was well-founded. For instance, the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) said:Under these two subsections they are to be put above the law."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st June, 1954; Vol. 528, c. 1137.]My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West suggested that those subsections excluded the ordinary processes of law. We do not want there to be any doubt, and that is the reason for the proposed addition of subsection 134 (7), to make it clear that the course proposed in subsections (5) and (6) which the Authority may take if it wishes are alternative to the ordinary rights at common law.
If the Amendment is accepted, the Authority will be able to bring actions to recover unpaid sums due from programme contractors, damages for breach of contract, or to seek injunctions, and will be able to exercise the right of determining a contract. I hope that we shall remove doubts on these points as well.
§ Mr. Mitchison
At the moment we are discussing the Amendment in page 10, line 2. There are other Government Amendments, which are closely connected with Amendments from this side of the House. Our Amendment in page 11 to leave out lines 12 to 17, will no doubt have some connection with the new subsection which is intended to follow at the end of line 17. However that may be. I shall content myself for the moment by saying that we on this side of the House dislike the Amendment now moved in page 10, line 2, and wish to preserve our right to discuss these other points as they arise.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
The other Amendments will be called as we come to them later on.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. J. E. S. Simon (Middlesbrough, West)
My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, when we discussed this Clause and when, I think, there was considerable disquiet in all parts of the Committee as to its provisions, merely contented himself with the very safe formula that he would look at what had been said that day. It seems to me that both the Home Secretary and my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General have been far better in their performance than in their promise, because I am completely satisfied—and I think I speak for my hon. Friends in this respect—that the points raised have been met.
In our view, there were two grave objections to the Clause as originally drafted. The first was that there was power vested in a public corporation—one of the two contracting parties—to fine the other contracting party up to £500 for breach of a contract, however trivial. Secondly. there was the point 135 made by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), with which we found ourselves in agreement, that a breach of contract, however grave, even if going to the root of the contract, did not give the Authority the right to rescind the contract unless it had been preceded by two previous breaches.
So far as both those points are concerned, the Amendment now moved by my right hon. and learned Friend meets
§ the objections raised, and all that it remains for me to do is to express my gratitude and thanks with which I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) would desire to be associated, to the Government for having met our point so completely.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 245.139
|Division No. 163.]||AYES||[8.32 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Erroll, F. J||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Low, A. R. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fort, R.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Potlok)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Bell, Phillip (Bolton, E.)||Galbraith, T G. D. (Hillhead)||McCallum, Major D.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gammans, L. D.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Glover, D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Godber, J. B.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Gomme-Duncan, Col A||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Birch, Nigel||Gough, C. F. H.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gower, H. R.||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Grimond, J.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Braine, B. R.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Marples, A. E.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Hay, John||Maude, Angus|
|Bullard, D. G.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maudling, R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Heath, Edward||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Higgs, J. M. C.||Mellor, Sir John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Channon, H.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Holt, A. F.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Cole, Norman||Hope, Lord John||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Neave, Airey|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Horobin, I. M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hurd, A. R.||Odey, G. W.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Osborne, C.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Page, R. G.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E McA||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Kaberry, D.||Perkins, Sir Robert|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Drewe, Sir C.||Kerr, H. W.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Lambion, Viscount||Pitman, I. J.|
|Duthie, W S.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Leather, E. H. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Profumo, J. D.|
|Raikes, Sir Victor||Spearman, A. C. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Speir, R. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Redmayne, M.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Stevens, Geoffrey||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Renton, D. L. M||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Robertson, Sir David||Storey, S.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Robson-Brown, W.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Studholme, H. G||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Summers, G. S.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Russell, R. S.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wellwood, W.|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Teeling, W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Scott, R. Donald||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Shepherd, William||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wills, G.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Tilney, John|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Touche, Sir Gordon||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Turner, H. F. L||Mr. Robert Allan and Mr. Legh.|
|Soames, Capt. C||Turton, R. H.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Fienburgh, W.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Adams, Richard||Finch, H. J.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Albu, A. H.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Allan, Scholefield (Crewe)||Follick, M.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Foot, M. M.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Forman, J. C.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Baird, J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bartley, P.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Logan, D. G.|
|Benson, G.||Gibson, C. W.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Beswick, F.||Gooch, E. G.||Mclnnes, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Blackburn, F.||Greenwood, Anthony||McLeavy, F.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Boardman, H.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Hale, Leslie||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hamilton, W. W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hannan, W.||Mason, Roy|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hargreaves, A.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hastings, S.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hayman, F. H.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Carmichael, J.||Healy, Cahir (Fermanagh)||Monslow, W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Moody, A. S.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hobson, C. R.||Morley, R.|
|Clunie, J.||Holman, P.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Coldrick, W.||Holmes, Horace||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Collick, P. H||Houghton, Douglas||Mort, D. L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hoy, J. H.||Moyle, A.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hubbard, T. F.||Mulley, F. W.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Nally, W.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J|
|Daines, P.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||O'Brien, T.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Orbach, M.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oswald, T.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Padley, W. E|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Janner, B.||Paget, R. T.|
|Deer, G.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Pannell, Charles|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Parker, J.|
|Edelman, M.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Nam, S.)||Parkin, B. T|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Paton, J.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pearson, A.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Keenan, W.||Peart, T. F.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Kenyon, C.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Porter, G.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||King, Dr. H. M.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Kinley, J.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Sorensen, R. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Sparks, J. A.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Rankin, John||Steele, T.||West, D. G.|
|Reeves, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Stross, Dr. Barnett||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Rhodes, H.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Swingler, S. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Willey, F. T.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Ross, William||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Royle, C.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Short, E. W.||Thornton, E.||Willis, E. G.|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Timmons, J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Tonmey, F.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Skeffington, A. M.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Yates, V. F.|
|Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Viant, S. P.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Wade, D. W.|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wallace, H. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Warbey, W. N.||Mr. Popplewell and|
|Snow, J. W.||Watkins, T. E.||Mr. Arthur Allen.|
§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move, in page 10, line 7, to leave out from "contractor," to the end of line 10, and to insert:Provided that the Authority shall not be enabled by any such contract to exercise any such power as is referred to in the said Third Schedule unless they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so having regard to a breach which they apprehend on the part of the programme contractor of any provision included in the contract in pursuance of this subsection.This is a purely drafting Amendment, and merely moves to another part of the Clause what was provided in paragraph (i) of the proviso.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. Mitchison
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the first "in," to insert:paragraphs 1 and 2 of.It may very well be that from the point of view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman his Amendment is pure drafting. It does, however, seem to raise a somewhat important question in connection with the powers of the Authority. The effect of my Amendment to the proposed Amendment is to limit to some extent the limitation which it is proposed to put upon the powers of the Authority. I should like to discuss the other Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out from "necessary," to the end, and to add:or expedient to do so in order to comply, or secure compliance, with the provisions of this Act.140 This is rather broader in terms and gives yet a little more freedom to the Authority.
The intention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that the Authority should not exercise any of its powers under the Third Schedule except in anticipation of the breach of a contract made with a programme contractor. When one turns to the Third Schedule one finds that these powers are, first, to require the provision of scripts and so on in advance; secondly, the power to require records to be made; and, thirdly and fourthly—two considerably more sweeping powers—to forbid broadcasting and to give prior approval to what is to be broadcast. What the Government propose is not to allow any of these powers to be exercised except in anticipation of a breach of contract. By the last Amendment they have put into the Clause a special reference to the provisions in the Third Schedule to lead up to this proposed Amendment.
We say that there is and should be no reason whatever for any limitation on the general power of the Authority to put into the contract whatever is "necessary or expedient" to secure "compliance with the provisions of this Act." I am sorry to disturb the Assistant Postmaster-General again, but we have reached the stage now of having a look at the false teeth in this Measure. We begin by saying that the Authority can do anything it likes to secure compliance with the provisions of the Bill—to secure a tone and style predominantly British, to secure a nice balance, free competition, and independent contractors. All the public's 141 safeguards depend on this subsection and the next. Then the Government say the powers are to be exercised only when the Authority knows that there is going to be a spot of trouble, or thinks there is. Indeed, before it can do anything at all there has to be, not a spot of trouble, but a whole measles of it.
Be that as it may, we are at the moment considering whether or not it can be allowed to exercise these powers judiciously instead of having to anticipate a breach of contract. To deprive the Authority of the Third Schedule power,to forbid the broadcasting of any matter, or class or description of matter,and to deprive it of the power to require its own previous approval of what is to be broadcast, is to shackle it in an unreasonable way.
If these powers were to be exercised in any arbitrary fashion, one might say that it ought to be shackled, but we have been told by the Assistant Postmaster-General in his last speech but one, I think, and in his last speech but five and in several other of his speeches, that what we have to do is to trust the Authority, that it will be a noble, white body, that we can be sure it will do its job rightly, and that we can rely on it implicitly to carry out the provisions of the Bill. Why on earth then should it be restricted in its exercise of its powers to cases where it thinks there is to be a breach of contract?
I do not know that these programme contractors and the other people concerned are so given to trumpeting their own conspiracies as the Government seem to think. How exactly is the Authority to know there is to be a breach of contract? Suppose some arrangement is come to, whether innocently or otherwise, that would be a breach of contract of the most grave character, that would upset completely the balance of the programmes, that would give them a tone and style that would be all wrong, that would amount to an unwholesome restriction of competition. It is not past programme contractors to do that sort of thing. What grounds have the Government for supposing that if they were to come to such an arrangement they would be so obliging as to go to the Authority and tell it all about it and trumpet it in the highways and byeways so that the Authority could take action?
142 Why should the Authority, charged with these responsible duties, be dependent on advance knowledge of what the programme contractors may say or do? What is the reason for this kindness and tenderness for these conspiratorial activities? Why are they to get this special treatment? Why should there be any restriction at all on the power the Authority has by the Third Schedule, when the Government intend that it should exercise those powers to perform the onerous duties placed upon it?
It is by the exercise of those powers that the Authority is to give the public some sort of safeguard—the only safeguard in the whole of this miserable Bill. I see no reason at all for a limitation of the sort which is to be put upon the Authority by this Clause. If such a limitation is to be put upon it, I would prefer the first Amendment which at any rate reserves, without the necessity of having an anticipated breach, the power to forbid broadcasting in proper cases or to require prior approval of what is to be broadcast.
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has made extremely clear his reasons for supporting the two Amendments to the Government's Amendment. If he is right—and in my view he is not—in saying that this Bill contains false teeth, then the effect of the first Amendment is to take out two of the false teeth and leave nothing.
§ The Solicitor-General
It may make it ugly, but it certainly makes it less operative than it is already. Under the first Amendment, the hon. and learned Gentleman limits the application of the proviso to the first two paragraphs of the Third Schedule. If that Amendment were carried to the Government Amendment, the Authority would not be able to act in relation to a matter which comes within paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Schedule.
§ Mr. Mitchison
With respect, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Perhaps he will reconsider the matter. The effect of the Government Amendment is to limit the Authority. It is not to exercise any power referred to in the Third Schedule except on an anticipated breach. 143 The effect of our Amendment is to limit that limitation, and the result would be that the limitation would apply only to paragraphs 1 and 2. The Government proposal is to apply it to the whole of the Third Schedule—paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4. The right hon. and learned Gentleman and I have known one another for a long time, and I am sure he would be the first to admit that my interpretation is correct.
§ The Solicitor-General
The Government's intention certainly is that their Amendment should be applicable to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Third Schedule aid the effect of the first Amendment to the Government's Amendment is to reduce the applicability of the Government's Amendment to paragraphs 1 and 2. That is what I thought I said and I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. We shall see, when we look at HANSARD, what I said.
§ Mr. Shackletonrose—
§ The Solicitor-General
May I now come to the point of substance, whether anyone is right about false teeth or not. The effect of the two Amendments would be completely to alter the Government's view as to the right and proper approach to the question of what authority the Authority should have.
§ The Solicitor-General
It alters it on a material point, as I shall explain to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
It does not alter the Government's view as expressed throughout the Committee stage.
§ The Solicitor-General
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was suggesting that I was inaccurate in what I was saying. Having heard the point of his interruption, perhaps he will allow me to get on with the argument.
The Government's view is that the Third Schedule power should not be invoked by the Authority unless it apprehends that a breach on the part of a programme contractor is likely to take place. I recognise straight away, from what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, that he does not share that view. The effect of the Amendment he has 144 moved would be that the Authority could exercise the Third Schedule powers whether or not they apprehended a breach of contract.
§ Mr. Mitchisonindicated assent.
§ The Solicitor-General
I see that the hon. and learned Gentleman agrees with me. We have formed the opinion that we really cannot accept that, because we do not take the view that the Third Schedule powers should be used or be able to be used so as to enable the Authority to use those powers for the purpose of routine or day-to-day checks on the programme contractors, without having any actual evidence that any breach of contract was likely or intended.
If the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman were accepted, it would be perfectly possible for the Authority to exercise the Third Schedule powers at any time. It would be possible for them to exercise these day-to-day checks or controls on the programme contractors, and the Government think that would be wrong, and place an altogether excessive burden upon the contractors.
§ Mr. Shackleton
How does the I.T.A. carry out the instructions which they may receive from the Postmaster-General?
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not think that I can answer that question without knowing what are the instructions. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are in the Bill."] There are many instructions which the Postmaster-General can give, but, so far as the powers under the contract are concerned, the contract will deal with these, with this limitation, that the contract will contain, if this Amendment is accepted, the proviso that the Third Schedule powers which are specific powers cannot be exercised unless the Authority is satisfied of an apprehended breach.
§ Mr. Shackleton
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer the question, particularly in relation to the powers under Clause 4? Do the I.T.A. carry out the directions of the Postmaster-General?
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not think that the powers under Clause 4 and the point which I am dealing with are closely related. The Third Schedule gives the Authority instructions to make provision 145 in its contracts to require the provision in advance of scripts and particulars of programmes; for enabling the Authority to require the making of visual and sound records; for reserving to the Authority power to forbid the broadcasting of any matter, or class or description of matter; and for reserving to the Authority power to require that nothing shall be broadcast without the previous approval of the Authority.
These are specific powers, and we say that none of these powers should be capable of being exercised by the Authority unless the Authority is satisfied of an apprehended breach. We insert that stipulation because we are satisfied that it would be quite wrong, and most damaging to the operation of the Authority and its relation with the programme contractors, if, as suggested in the two Amendments, we gave the Authority such extensive powers, so vague and ill-defined, powers of interference and imposing day-to-day checks on the operations of the programme contractors, even though there maybe no reason whatsoever to think that they will be guilty of a breach.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Will the Solicitor-General give the House an illustration of an apprehended breach?
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I should have thought that if there were any reason to suppose that a breach was going to be made in the contract the Authority would be entitled, if satisfied that that was so, to invoke the powers under the Third Schedule. The hon. and learned Member knows very well that there are cases where it becomes quite apparent from letters which are written or information which is obtained, from one source or another, that a breach of a contract is likely to occur. Indeed, some parties to contracts, in the event of dispute, frequently say that they intend to disregard a certain provision. The information of an apprehended breach might well come from the other party to the contract.
§ Mr. Mitchison
If that is so, will the Solicitor-General explain why one of the powers that the Authority cannot exercise except in anticipation of a breach is the power to require the provision in advance of scripts and particulars of the programmes? How is the Authority to find out?
§ The Solicitor-General
I will give the hon. and learned Member a simple example. Suppose that two breaches have been established and two penalties imposed on a programme contractor. The Authority may well say, and honestly say, "We anticipate that this programme contractor will offend again." Having seen his programmes, the Authority might say that he is getting very near the line. Then, the time may come when the Authority says it is satisfied that there is an apprehended breach and can then impose the power of calling for scripts.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
The more I listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the more I was mystified. The Bill as drafted is the Government's Bill. The Clause has appeared ever since the Bill appeared. Therefore, presumably, the Government believe in the Clause as it is. But now, the Solicitor-General says that the Clause, or subsection (5), is preposterous; it is a bad Clause, it is indefensible. What were the Government doing to bring the Clause in?
§ The Solicitor-General
If the right hon. Gentleman looks at lines 22 to 28, he will see that the words have precisely the same effect as the Amendment, which shows that it is a drafting Amendment.
§ Mr. Morrison
We do not agree that the Amendment is the same. We are now on Report stage. These Amendments were not brought in during Committee, otherwise they would not be here now. Therefore, why has this Government Amendment been put down? The Government up to this point believed in the Bill, as amended in Committee, and now they find that these Amendments are desirable.
§ The Solicitor-General
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to read lines 21 to 28, from which he will see that the Amendment which I have moved is merely a redraft of what was in the Bill, as amended in Committee. If he compares one with the other, he will see that they cover precisely the same substance. Both refer to an apprehended breach and to the other matters. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman on that point is a very short one.
§ Mr. Morrison
The proviso, I think, was amended in Committee. If the 147 Solicitor-General argues that the element of apprehension is preserved, and ought to be preserved, which I gather he is now doing, why does he want this other Amendment to bring in this element of apprehension? My explanation of the proposed change is that the Government wish to weaken the Clause. This is the consequence of pressure from the usual interested quarters and the people who wish to weaken the I.T.A. and the provisions of the Bill; because it is clear, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) said, that this change in the wording means that before the I.T.A. can act it has to be satisfied that it has an apprehension that a breach is to follow.
This leads to all sorts of legal possibilities, presumably of arguments in the court as to whether the Authority could have had reasonable cause to apprehend that a breach in the contract was to be made. Consequently this is a Government Amendment which is a limiting Amendment—[Interruption.] What else is it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Drafting."] That really will not do.
It is a material Amendment to the Clause, and therefore we think that it is a weakening of the provisions of the Bill, brought about by the customary little band of half a dozen or ten people representing the customary vested interests, who want to secure that the Bill shall be weak. We all know who that collection of people are.
We think that there is a case for preserving the application of this new provision to paragraphs 1 and 2. By the way, the Solicitor-General was wrong about that point. I think that he was the reverse of accurate. I understand that our Amendment preserves the applicability of the Government Amendment to paragraphs 1 and 2 and removes it from paragraphs 3 and 4, whereas the Solicitor-General, possibly by inadvertence, put it the other way round and said that it preserved the applicability of the Government Amendment to paragraphs 3 and 4. But while there is a case for preserving its applicability in respect of paragraphs 1 and 2, the provisions of paragrahs 3 and 4 are of substance and importance.
148 There are provisions in paragraph 3 which would reserve to the Authoritypower to forbid the broadcasting of any matter, or class or description of matter.Surely it is reasonable that the Authority should have that power without having to prove to itself that it apprehends a breach of contract. That is one of the essential powers of the Authority, and the Government Amendment takes that power away, at all events partially, and it seems to us that it ought to be preserved. The fourth paragraph in the Schedule isFor reserving to the Authority power to require that nothing shall be broadcast without the previous approval of the Authority.How is the Authority to be sure that a breach of contract may be apprehended?
The Authority ought to have a straight, clear power to do these things and make these provisions. I can only interpret the Government Amendment as having the intention of weakening the Authority and the power of the I.T.A. That is what it seems to me to be for, and it is the result of pressure; otherwise it would not have come before us at this late stage.
So much for the first Amendment to the proposed Amendment, the one which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering has moved. I agree that in the second Amendment we are trying to widen the powers of the Authority, and I do not see why these should not be widened. These limited powers which the Government are trying to put into the Bill are dangerous, and when they say it is necessary to do so, having regard to the breach which is apprehended on the part of the programme contractor, it is asking for all sorts of legal uncertainty, controversy and a nervousness on the part of the Authority as to whether it is acting in conformity with the law or not.
That is the purpose, in my view—to make the authority so nervous that the contractors will have a free hand and the Authority will be afraid to intervene. Therefore we seek in our second Amendment to the proposed Amendment to add the words:or expedient to do so in order to comply, or secure compliance, with the provisions of this Act.There are provisions of the Act in various places whereby the Postmaster-General 149 can give directions. My hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackle-ton) has referred to the extensive provisions in Clause 4. If the Independent Television Authority is given instructions that it must secure that the programme contractor must observe this, that or the other, surely that power or direction to the Authority is weakened by the Government Amendment. It may well be, therefore, that the Government are not only weakening the power and authority of the I.T.A., but also the power of the Postmaster-General; because when the Authority receives its instructions it may, in its judgment, find that it cannot reasonably apprehend a breach of contract in this sense.
What the Authority is required to do under the terms of the Government Amendment is almost to be satisfied that an offence is about to be committed. That is not reasonable. It is not the way in which this instruction can work properly. It is all right in an ordinary prosecution in a court of law that the prosecution shall prove its case and not prosecute a poor chap before he has committed an offence; but this is administration. This is a situation in which a programme contractor may be doing, or is about to do, certain things; but to expect the Authority to be satisfied that that is a matter of certainty is unreasonable. It may wish to take a record or require a recording of a programme, and so on, and it will be nervous or apprehensive about that.
Therefore, it seems to us that our two Amendments to the proposed Amendment are reasonable. We do not see how paragraphs 3 and 4 will be workable with the Government Amendment applied to them. We are doubtful whether they can be operated, and, for the reasons given by my hon. and learned Friend and myself, we consider that the Government Amendment is bad. We consider that it is calculated to weaken and has the purpose of weakening the provisions of the Bill, and so we think that our two Amendments to the proposed Amendment are necessary and desirable in the public interest.
§ Mr. Simon
We have heard once again about this nefarious band who have forced the Government to bring in the Bill and who have now forced this Amendment on a reluctant Government. 150 They were originally referred to by, I think, the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) as a "shady mixture"—
§ Mr. Simon
The hon. Member said "shady" and then a "shabby mixture," and a great many of us felt that our withers were slightly wrung, because we thought that we were being referred to. Now we have heard that they are a "shadowy mixture."
What have they done? They have exerted their power once again. This Amendment is one more example of the power behind this Bill. They have taken a form of words from about line 25 and put it in the same form of words slightly higher up. That is an example of how this wicked force behind the Government exert their power over the Government. If I may say so with respect, this is purely an example of shadow boxing. To pretend that there is anything more in it than a drafting Amendment, when it is the same form of words, is the height of purility.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I thought that the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) was doing the shadow boxing. Whether this appears by way of Amendment or in the original place in the Bill, it raises a very important point. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows quite well that the Amendments to the Amendment, which he has heard explained, raise an important alternative. Let us have the substance of the matter. The question is whether or not these powers should be exercised on an anticipated breach or generally. Let us have an answer to the substance and not to the form.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Simon
These words, of course, have force. They had force where they were originally put and they have exactly the same force now. Obviously these should be reserve powers used only in respect of an apprehended breach. However, I was referring, with great respect, to the argument of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) that this was an example again of the hidden hand operating in relation to this Bill, and I was pointing out that 151 to apply that argument to this Government Amendment is to show how completely idle it is.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I hope that the Solicitor-General will not be misled by the "Simple Simon" view he has just heard on this subject. I would like him to bring his legal mind to bear upon the point in issue. The Government Amendment in its present context is legal gibberish and, in my view, futile verbiage. The Third Schedule to the Bill states that the provisions in the Schedule are to be made part of the contract. It is plain, therefore, they are to be put into the contract for a purpose, not for nonsense, and obviously not in order that they should not be carried out.
Then we get the supreme contradiction that reduces this matter to an absurdity, in that, having made the provisions of the Third Schedule part of the contract, and having put it in terms that are to belong to the contract and, therefore, enforceable, the Solicitor-General now brings forward an Amendment in which he says that they are not to be carried out. That is to say, one party to the contract, namely, the Independent Television Authority, is not to be able to exercise the powers given to it in the provisions of the Schedule unless it is satisfied that there is an apprehended breach.
If the provisions in the Third Schedule are to be incorporated in and be part of the contract, how is it practicable first of all to have to apprehend breaches in order to give effect to and make sense of the Government Amendment? The proposal is utter nonsense. I speak to the Solicitor-General as one lawyer to another and ask him not to affront the common sense of the House by bringing forward an Amendment of this extraordinary nature. He is, I hope, not being beguiled by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) behind him; and I ask him to put him behind him. I ask him not to father upon the House what is nothing more or less than a piece of legislative nonsensicality.
§ Mr. Hobson
I listened to the exchanges of the hon. and learned Members across the Floor of the House and it was not until my right hon. Friend the 152 Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) spoke that I obtained any elucidation of the point under discussion.
It seems to me perfectly reasonable to make the exception proposed in the Government Amendment with regard to the supply of scripts in advance and particulars of programmes, but what is the objection to including the third and fourth paragraphs of the Schedule which reserve to the Authority power to forbid the broadcasting of any matter and to require that nothing shall be broadcast without the previous approval of the Authority? Surely those are precisely the terms under which the B.B.C. operates at present. If that is so, why should not the contractors operate under the same terms?
Paragraph 4 reserves… to the Authority power to require that nothing shall be broadcast without the previous approval of the Authority.That is precisely the same power as exists in the case of the B.B.C. It seems to me that it would logically follow that the same powers should be vested in the Authority. I should like to know what the Solicitor-General has to say about this. What is his nefarious reason for objecting to these provisions?
There is another point which, as a layman, I should like to put to the Solicitor-General. We have heard a lot about "apprehension." How are we to apprehend that there is a breach until a breach has occurred? It seems to me that the powers would be provided far too late to be of any use. We ought to be told by the Government the reasons for failing to include paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Schedule, and we ought also to be given a definition of "apprehension."
§ Mr. Shackleton
Let me remove one complication from the debate. We are debating an Amendment which was inserted on Committee stage. The reason why our Amendments are put down on Report is that, because of the Guillotine, we did not have time to discuss the point earlier. The fact that the Solicitor-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General have decided to move the provision from one part of the Bill to another, following certain other desirable legal changes, has merely made the position a little more obscure.
153 We can leave the argument which was produced by the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) as part of his defence of the Government. I am sure that the hon. and learned Member—I made a mistake in an earlier debate in calling him a good lawyer, I now term him "a competent lawyer"—cannot defend the Government's wording in the original version or this version.
I should like to know from the Solicitor-General what powers the I.T.A. will now have in general if it cannot put into a contract any provisions forbidding the use of certain materials. Now will a breach of the contract which it might subsequently apprehend be committed?
Also, how will it be possible under Clause 4 (5) for the I.T.A. to carry out the instructions of the Postmaster-General about methods of advertising and so on. The Amendment tabled on the Comtnittee stage was quite specific. It laid down that the I.T.A. should not be allowed to take any powers to forbid any matter. However, very solemn undertakings were given on behalf of the Government in connection with the I.T.A. about religious and medical broadcasts. Today a new Clause dealing with
advisory committees has been put into the Bill. How will the I.T.A. be able to:
… secure compliance with the recommendations of the said committees …
§ unless it has powers under the contracts to forbid the broadcasting of certain matters? The programme contractors will not have committed any breach because nothing is laid down in the Bill as to precisely what should or should not he done under the new Clause. It is only when the recommendations of the various committees are made that the I.T.A. will be in a position to give instructions that they are to be carried out. In fact they will have no powers to give those instructions.
§ Before we leave this point we must ask the Solicitor-General to give us a further explanation, as he must agree that the situation is obscure. Perhaps he would look at it again and make an Amendment in another place?
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 258.157
|Division No. 164.]||AYES||[9.26 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Grimond, J.|
|Adams, Richard||Daines, P.||Hale, Leslie|
|Albu, A. H||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hannan, W.|
|Baird, J||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bartley, P.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Benson, G.||Deer, G.||Hastings, S.|
|Beswick, F.||Delargy, H. J.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dodds, N. N.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Donnelly, D. L.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hewitson, Capt. M|
|Boardman, H.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Edelman, M.||Holman, P.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Holmes, Horace|
|Bowen, E. R.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Holt, A. F.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hoy, J. H.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Chedwyn (Anglesey)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fienburgh, W.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Finch, H. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Follick, M.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Foot, M. M.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Carmichael, J.||Forman, J. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Janner, B.|
|Champion, A. J.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gibson, C. W.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Clunie, J.||Gooch, E. G.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Coldrick, W.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Collick P. H.||Greenwood, Anthony||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Padley, W. E.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Keenan, W.||Paget, R. T.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Kenyon, C.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Swingler, S. T.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Kinley, J.||Pannell, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Parker, J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Parkin, B. T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Paton, J.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Pearl, T. F.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thornton, E.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Popplewell, E.||Timmons, J.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Porter, G.||Tomney, F.|
|Logan, D. G.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|McInnes, J.||Proctor, W. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Pryde, D. J.||Wade, D. W.|
|McLeavy, F.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wallace, H. W.|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Rankin, John||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Reeves, J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Weitzman, D.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Rhodes, H.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||West, D. G.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Ross, William||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Royle, C.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Mikardo, Ian||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Monslow, W.||Short, E. W.||Willey, F. T.|
|Moody, A. S.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Morley, R.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'H'y)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, W. R. (Droyisden)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Mort, D. L.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Willis, E. G.|
|Moyle, A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mulley, F. W||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Nally, W.||Snow, J. W.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Sorensen, R. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|O'Brien, T.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Oldfield, W. H||Sparks, J. A.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Steele, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Orbach, M.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen|
|Oswald, T.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Campbell, Sir David||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Channon, H.||Fort, R.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Arbuthnot, John||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Cole, Norman||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Colegate, W. A.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Glover, D.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Godber, J. B.|
|Baxter Sir Beverley||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Crouch, R. F.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Deedes, W. F.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hay, John|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Drayson, G. B.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Braine, B. R.||Drewe, Sir C.||Heath, Edward|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Henderson, John (Catheart)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Duthie, W. S.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Erroll, F. J.||Mollis, M. C.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Finlay, Graeme||Hope, Lord John|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fisher, Nigel||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P|
|Horobin, I. M.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mellor, Sir John||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Molson, A. H. E.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Speir, R. M.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (Eb'rgh, W.)||Mott-Radclyffe, C E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col, H. M.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Neave, Airey||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nicholls, Harmar||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Storey, S.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Noble, Comdr. A. H P||Studholme, H. G.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Summers, G. S.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Oakshott, H. D.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Kerr, H. W.||Odey, G. W.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||O'Neill, Hon, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Teeling, W.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Orr, Capt, L. P. S.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Osborne, C.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Page, R. G.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Thornton-Kenneth, Col. C. N|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Tilney, John|
|Loyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Turner, H. F. L|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Turton, R. H.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitman, I. J.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lucas. Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Powell, J. Enoch||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Profumo, J. D.||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|McCallum, Major D.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wall, Major Patrick|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Rayner, Brig. R.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Redmayne, M.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rees-Davies, W. R|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Renton, D. L. M.||Walkinson, H. A.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ridsdale, J. E.||Webbe.Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Robertson, Sir David||Wellwood, W.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. tain (Enfield, W.)||Robson-Brown, W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Russell, R. S.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Wills, G.|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Marples, A. E.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Maude, Angus||Shepherd, William||Mr. Kaberry and|
|Maulding, R.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Maydon, LI.-Cmdr. S. L. C||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
§ Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.
Further Amendments made: In page 10, line 11, leave out "(b) all," and insert:
(6) Every such contract shall in particular contain.
In page 10, line 16, leave out "paragraph (b) of."
In page 10, leave out lines 22 to 28.—[The Solicitor-General.]
§ Mr. Mitchison
I beg to move, in page 10, to leave out lines 29 to 31.
This Amendment proposes to delete the provision that the maximum penalty is not to exceed £500, and it raises in a convenient form the suggestion made by the right hon. and learned Solicitor-General at an earlier stage. What, apparently, the Government now propose is that there 158 should be—and here I agree with them—provision for a penalty in these contracts. The reason given for it is that it may, in effect, be difficult for the Authority to show damages. We are therefore agreed on the principle that a penalty is appropriate. The question is whether there ought to be a maximum penalty, as the Government propose, or whether the matter should be left at the discretion of the arbitrator, or, if the case comes before the court, at the discretion of the court, without the maximum of £500 as set out in the Clause.
I merely rise to say that the tenderness shown towards the programme contractors seems to be increasing at every step through this Clause. We are now agreed that there ought to be, as there is no criminal penalty of any sort, a penalty for what may be a very serious matter. 159 There is to be a limitation of £500 and the matter is not to be left to any tribunal that has to adjudicate.
I fail to understand why, if we are to have a penalty, there should be any limitation at all. How have the Government arrived at the figure of £500? Did they do it by pitch-and-toss at St. Martin's le Grand? Why select this particular penalty? The mere impossibility of defending any particular figure in the circumstances seems to me to show the complete idiocy of any monetary limitation in the matter of a penalty.
Surely in a field like this—and the Government are the first to confess, and indeed pride themselves on the fact, that they do not know where they are going—the sensible thing is to wait and see what happens, and leave the penalty to be fixed by the people who have to decide. It may be that £500 would be grossly excessive. It may be that it would prove quite inadequate. After all, time on these programmes will be expensive, and it might very well pay someone to commit a breach or two if he knew that he would only have to pay £500 a time.
§ The Solicitor-General
By this Amendment the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has raised the question of whether there should be any limit on the amount of penalty which the arbitrator can fix in consequence of a breach of the contract provisions. He has put forward the argument that there should be no limit. He suggested that the limit which has been fixed was fixed at a game of pitch-and-toss in St. Martin's le Grand. I can assure him that nothing of that sort took place.
We thought that it was desirable that there should be a limit imposed to the penalty which could be awarded, particularly, as the right hon. Gentleman will recognise, when one has so many precedents in other fields for imposing limits to the amount of financial penalties that can be awarded. When we came to consider what should be the maximum we sought to arrive at a figure which was reasonably high and big enough to be a deterrent without appearing to be entirely oppressive. It was in that way that we arrived at the figure of £500.
160 I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that the penalty of £500 is by no means the sole sanction that can be imposed on the recalcitrant contractor. If one acts under the special machinery it is true that there is a penalty of £500 for the first breach, and indeed for the second, but with the third breach one can take steps under subsection (6)—and they are drastic steps. There are, in addition, the common law rights. It is really misrepresenting the position to make it appear that no matter how guilty of a breach of contract a contractor may be the only penalty that can be imposed is a maximum sum of £500. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman really did not mean to suggest that, and I am merely putting it beyond doubt that the £500 penalty provision is not the sole penalty that a contractor can incur as a result of a breach of contract.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman allow me to ask if there is, in fact, no other penalty until one has committed at least two breaches of contract, and that so far as courts of law are concerned the arbitration provisions here are put in in order—by agreement it is true—to keep proceedings out of the ordinary court of law?
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. and learned Gentleman will see that the proposed new subsection (7) provides that:The provisions of this section relating to breaches of contract … shall be without prejudice to any other remedies of the Authority for the enforcement of their rights in respect of contracts with programme contractors. …
§ The Solicitor-General
There is the remedy of injunction for one. And if one can establish that the Authority has suffered damages—and that is the real difficulty—one can take the necessary steps, and, of course, if the breach goes to the root of the contract one can exercise the right of determining the contract. It is for those reasons that we thought it desirable and right that a limit should be imposed on the amount of penalty, and that is the only question raised by the Amendment.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to 'exigible' in line 29, stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 267; Noes, 249.165
|Division No. 165.]||AYES||[9.45 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Gower, H. R.||Medlicott. Brig. F|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Mellor, Sir John|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Grimond, J.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Arbuthnot, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Harrison, Col, J. H. (Eye)||Neave, Airey|
|Barlow, Sir John||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Hay, John||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Heath, Edward||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Henderson, John (Catheart)||Oakshott, H. D|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Odey, G. W|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G||Holland-Marlin, C. J||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Hollis, M. C.||Osborne, C.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Holt, A. F.||Page, R. G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Hope, Lord John||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hopkinson. Rt. Hon. Henry||Perkins, Sir Robert|
|Braine, B. R.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Horobin, I. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pickthorn, K. W. M|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Pitman, I. J|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Brooman-While, R. C||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hurd, A. H||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L|
|Bullard, D. G||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Iremonger, T. L.||Redmayne, M.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Rees-Davies, W. R|
|Channon, H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Johnson, Howard (Kemplown)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Porfsmouth, W)||Joymon-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Cole, Norman||Kerr, H. W.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Lambton, Viscount||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Craddock, Beretford (Spelthorne)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Russell, R. S.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Leather, E. H. C.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Crouch, R. F.||Lesh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Linstead, Sir H. N||Scott, R. Donald|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Llewellyn, D. T.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Shepherd, William|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Simon, J. E. S (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Longden, Gilbert||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Low, A. R. W.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Drewe, Sir C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Speir, R. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T (Richmond)||McAdden, S. J.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A L.||McCullum, Major D.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Duthie, W. S.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||McKibbin, A. J.||Storey, S.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Summers, G. S.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Maclean, Fitzroy||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Fisher, Nigel||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Teeling, W.|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fort, R.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Marples, A. E.||Tilney, John|
|Glover, D.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Godber, J. B.||Maude, Angus||Turner, H. F. L|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maudling, R||Turton, R. H.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, J. K||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Vosper, D. F.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Wade, D. W.||Watkinson, H. A.||Wills, G.|
|Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Trure)|
|Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)||Wallwood, W.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Walker-Smith, D. C.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Wall, Major Patrick||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)||Mr. Studbolme and Mr. Kiberry|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Griffiths, Rt Hon. James (Ltanelty)||Morley, R|
|Adams, Richard||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Morris, Percy (Swamea, W.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Hale, Leslie||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hall, Rt. Hen. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mort, D. L.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Moyle, A.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hamilton, W. W||Mulley, F. W|
|Baird, J.||Hannan, W.||Nally, W.|
|Bartley, P.||Hargreaves, A.||O'Brien, T.|
|Benson, G.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Boswick, F.||Hastings, S.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Hayman, F. H,||Orbach, M.|
|Blackburn, F.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Oswald, T.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Padtey, W. E.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Herbison, Miss M.||Paget, R. T.|
|Boardman, H.||Hewitson, Capt. M||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Hobson, C. R.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Holman, P.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Holmes, Horace||Pannell, Charles|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Houghton, Douglas||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hoy, J. H.||Parker, J.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hubbard, T. F.||Parkin, B. T|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Paton, J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Peart, T. F.|
|Brown. Thomas (Ince)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Burke, W. A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Porter, G.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Price, J. T. (Westhougnton)|
|Carmichael, J.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Janner, B.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Clunie, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rankin, John|
|Coldrick, W.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Reeves, J.|
|Collick, P. H.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Cove, W. G.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Reid, William (Camlaehie)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford. S)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Rhodes, H.|
|Crosland, C. A. R||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Daines, P.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Keenan, W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras. N.)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Kenyon, C.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Ross, William|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||King, Dr. H. M||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Kinley, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lawson, G. M.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Deer, G.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Short, E. W.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lewis, Arthur||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Lindgren, G. S.||Slater, Mrs H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lipton, Lt. Col. M.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgfield)|
|Edelman, M.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||MacColl, J. E.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McInnes, J.||Snow, J. W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McLeavy, F.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Evans. Edward (Lowestoft)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Steele, T.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Manuel, A. C.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Follick, M.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mason, Roy||Swingler, S. T.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Messer, Sir F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mitchison, G. R||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||Monslow, W.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moody, A. S.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W||Thornton, E.|
|Timmons, J.||West, D. G.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Tomney, F.||Wheeldon, W. E.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Turner-Samuels, M.||White, Mrs.. Eirene (E. Flint)||Willis, E. G.|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Viant, S. P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Woodbum, Rt. Hon. A|
|Wallace, H. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.||Wyatt, W. L|
|Warbey, W. N.||Wilkins, W. A.||Yates, V. F.|
|Watkins, T. E.||Willey, F. T.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K|
|Weitzman, D.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wells, William (Walsall)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
Amendments made: In page 10, line 29, leave out "exigible," and insert:
which may be demanded by the Authority.
In line 36, after "aforesaid," insert:
or as to the amount demanded by way of penalty in respect of any such breach."—[The Solicitor-General.]
§ Mr. Mitchison
I beg to move, in page 11, to leave out lines 12 to 17.
This iniquitous Guillotine has led to our dropping at least two points of major importance in this Part of the Bill. We regard the provisions of this Clause as particularly scandalous in respect of the two provisos which appear in it. This Amendment seeks to omit the latter and the worse of the two.
This remarkable proviso is to the effect that, the matter having been referred to arbitration, the penalty having been limited, the Authority having been deprived of its powers to enforce the contract except when a breach of it is apprehended, the sinner—in this case the programme contractor—is to be allowed two breaches of contract before his contract is ended. He can do twice something which in ordinary arrangements, in ordinary business, would entitle the other party to the contract—that is to say, the Authority—to say, "That is a breach going to the root of the matter and the contract is now dissolved." That power appears to be taken away, and in its place the Authority, in the exercise of its public duties, has to submit to two breaches of contract before the matter can be terminated. That is arranged by ordering that kind of thing to be put into the contract itself.
We have to bear in mind in all this that the breaches of contract which are to be expected are breaches which concern not merely the Authority or the programme contractors but also the public at large. They are breaches which will enable the programme contractor to ride through the provisions of the Bill, to secure an unbalanced programme, to put in what is obscene or criminal or to insert every 166 kind of matter to the detriment of the country and of the public; and to do it twice before anybody can do anything to stop him. I have never found in a Bill such a singular tenderness for one set of people as exists in this Bill for the programme contractors. They are to be bitten with false teeth but only after they have twice deserved a bite.
We can only surmise the reasons for this, but we say to the Government in all seriousness that if for some political purpose they start playing about with the ordinary provisions of the law like this, and if they provide for special procedure and give to one class of person a protection in civil matters for which there appears to be no reason, they are taking one small but one sure step towards the dictatorship which the party opposite say they dislike—and they are taking it in the interests of commercial television and all those who are concerned in it. They are being led down the primrose path towards the actual guillotine by a gay band of programme contractors and advertising agents. No doubt they seem to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to be people of little importance and a certain attraction financially or otherwise. Their profits may be safeguarded, their ways of business may be protected, and this particular Clause for those purposes sacrifices every principle and method of justice ever known to this country.
There has been singularly little attempt to defend in any way this particular Clause, the discussion of which has been shortened by the operation of the Guillotine, just as it was in Committee. I say that it is a scandalous abuse of the machinery of justice to put a Clause of this sort in a Bill of this sort, in the particular interests of people of this sort. It is a scandalous arrangement that the proper discussion of it should be curtailed because the Government have mistimed their own legislative programme and found it necessary to put the Guillotine on this Bill.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has exaggerated in any way the objections to this Clause. It seems to me that this proviso which we are moving to delete goes to the heart of the problem whether or not the Government intend programme contractors to fulfil their contracts honourably and in accordance with both the spirit and the letter of the undertaking which they will be giving to the Authority. This Clause presupposes that there will be breaches of contract by programme contractors, and the issue is what is to happen when there is a breach of contract by programme contractors?
One of the Amendments which we had down and which, owing to the operation of the Guillotine, has not been called, was our suggestion that any breach of contract by programme contractors should be subject to open inquiry and by adjudication in the courts. As the Bill stands, it is possible for a breach of contract which affects the public interest to be decided behind closed doors, in private, by an arbitrator. Surely the Home Secretary would agree that that is wrong. Surely he would agree that, if there is a breach of contract by one of these very privileged class of programme contractors, that is a matter which the public interest requires should be ventilated freely and fully in public and, in preference, by Her Majesty's courts of justice, and not by an arbitrator sitting in secret.
We feel that it is absolutely monstrous that there should be two or three serious breaches of contract on which the public has no general knowledge before the Authority should take the steps given in this Bill. There is no parallel for this kind of provision in any legislation with which I am familiar, and it seems quite indefensible that the Home Secretary should coldly envisage a set of circumstances in which programme contractors make one or two very serious breaches which affect the public interest before the Authority has any redress and the public has any redress from the abuses which, ex hypothesi, occur before this provision operates.
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and the hon. Member for 168 Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) have indeed surprised me by their speeches, because they seem not to have heard me draw attention to subsection (7), which provides that if there is a breach of contract by the programme contractor the Authority will have all the normal rights under the ordinary law in relation to such a breach. Therefore, if the Amendment is carried, as I hope it will be shortly, it really is complete and utter nonsense for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the programme contractor can be guilty of two breaches of contract before anything can be done to stop him. That is not the case.
It is quite wrong for the hon. Member for Islington, East to suggest that there can be a most serious breach of contract for which only a penalty of £500 can be imposed if it is the first breach. If it is a breach that goes to the root of the contract, if the Amendment which we will shortly be discussing is accepted, the Authority will have power to terminate the contract straight away. That is the short answer to the arguments that have been put forward.
We think it absolutely right that, not only should there be the common law remedies, but also that there should be these financial penalty provisions before the special powers contained in subsection (6) can be brought into operation. Those powers in subsection (6) are very potent indeed. If there were a possibility of their being brought into operation by the Authority immediately on a minor breach of contract on the part of a programme contractor, it might well prove that no reputable potential programme contractor would put himself in a position where he might be subject to such a penalty.
Whatever right hon. and hon. Members opposite may think about the Bill, I am sure they are in agreement that we want reputable programme contractors. We feel that unless we can retain the proviso, the prospects of securing reputable programme contractors will be decreased and diminished.
§ Mr. Mitchison
If there is a provision in the contract that it is not to be terminated under the Clause except on the third occasion, how is any court or arbitration tribunal to terminate it sooner?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not suggesting that anyone would be quite so stupid as to put it in those terms.
§ Amendment negatived.
Amendment made: In page 11, line 17, at end, insert:
(7) The provisions of this section relating to breaches of contract on the part of programme contractors shall be without prejudice to any other remedies of the Authority for the enforcement of their rights in respect of contracts with programme contractors, and shall not, except as expressly provided therein, affect the jurisdiction of any court in respect of such contracts.—[Mr. Gammans.]