HC Deb 27 March 1956 vol 550 cc2031-2
Mr. Amory

I beg to move, in page 17, line 26, after "Board ", to insert: after consultation with the Minister". This is another case where we are endeavouring to go some way to meet the views of the Opposition. The right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) made a point at the end of his remarks when discussing this matter in the Standing Committee. He said he did not feel it was quite right that the Board should have the right, as it were, to over-ride the regulations made by the Minister in this matter. This is a reference to a claim for distribution payment made after the time prescribed by the Minister's regulations for making that claim. We feel that in general a matter like that should be settled at the level of the Board, but we have included the words here, after consultation with the Minister and I hope that will meet the views, or go a long way towards meeting the views, of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Bottomley

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for meeting us part of the way; he has explained why he could not go the whole way. I think the Minister would be wrong to support the view of his Joint Parliamentary Secretary that a great many concessions are being given to this side of the House. In my own mind I am confident that it is only as a result of very careful consideration that the Government accept these proposals. In one case, although we on this side of the House have been given credit for the Amendment, it was in part the result of what was, I think, the only positive contribution made by any back bencher from the Government side. Nevertheless, the Minister has gone part of the way, and we are grateful to him for that.

Mr. G. Jeger

On this matter again we had considerable discussion in the Standing Committee, and there the Joint Parliamentary Secretary refused to budge an inch. He insisted that the Board was to have discretion even to over-ride the Minister, if necessary. He said that the discretion should be at the level of the Board. That will be found in c. 392 of the OFFCIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee proceedings. Before that, he said: I do not move from the position which I have argued so far. I am very glad that the Minister has made him move. If, when the discussion was taking place on our Amendments, there had been a little more cohesion, collaboration, and, perhaps, collusion between the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary at that stage, the Minister would not now have to repudiate the words of the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. Amory

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary did say, I will discuss the matter with my right hon. Friend."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 31st January, 1956; c. 391 and 394.]

Mr. Jeger

I agree that that was the position into which we forced him because of the common sense and logic of our arguments. Even he was not able to withstand them with 100 per cent. success; he had to give way to a certain extent and promised to consult the Minister. The arguments put forward on that occasion would fully have convinced the Minister himself had he been there, and I am only sorry that he was not and matters were left to the intransigence of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary.

Amendment agreed to.