HC Deb 27 March 1956 vol 550 cc2057-101

Amendments made: In page 36, line 22, leave out from first "of" to end of line 23 and insert: such orders as are mentioned in the next following subsection". In line 26, at end insert: (3) No order shall be made under subsection (4) of section eighteen of this Act, or under section twenty-five, twenty-six or twenty-seven of this Act, unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.—[Mr. Amory.]

7.33 p.m.

Mr. Amory

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We have frankly to recognise that there is an element of controversy in the Bill. It stems from the very different views taken by the Opposition and ourselves about the merits of Government trading. These different views have led to rather divergent opinions on the shape and functions of the Sugar Board. Our object, we have said frankly, is to reduce to the minimum the extent of Government interference with private enterprise. We have therefore proposed to set up a small executive board with strictly limited functions, and we have proposed to leave the existing structure of the British Sugar Corporation as nearly as possible untouched.

If I have understood the Opposition correctly, it would have preferred a board with wider policy and planning powers which would operate as an agent for full trading under the auspices of the Government. It would also have preferred nationalisation—to all intents and purposes—of the British Sugar Corporation. Bearing in mind those fundamentally different approaches, we have cause for satisfaction that we have had very useful and constructive, if sometimes quite prolonged, discussions throughout the Committee stage in an atmosphere of friendly toleration, punctuated sometimes with a modicum of good humoured badinage.

While acknowledging and facing up to the politically philosophical differences, hon. Members have co-operated in seeking to make the most of the ground on which there is complete agreement. The result is that we have a Bill which has been improved in several respects. I am glad to say that we have found complete agreement on two fundamentally important points. The first one is the policy for fostering the sugar cane industries in the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The second is the policy of providing support for our home sugar beet industry through the guarantees under the Agriculture Act, 1947.

I should like once more to repeat—I have said it on a number of occasions—that there is nothing in the Bill which in any way interferes with either of those two objectives. On the contrary, the legislative provisions which are made in the Bill will, I am certain, afford additional proof of the importance with which the Government regard these policies to which I have referred. I should like to draw the attention of the House to one or two of the provisions which I regard as positive improvements.

In Committee everyone was concerned to safeguard the position of the user and the consumer of sugar. All of us recognise, although reluctantly perhaps, that market sharing arrangements continue to be necessary for the purpose of ensuring adequate outlets on the most economical terms for the beet sugar which the British Sugar Corporation produces as a consequence of implementing the guarantee to the sugar beet growers. It is inevitable that users and consumers should feel anxiety about the possible effects that such arrangements may have on their own interests.

For that reason, the Bill as it was first drafted gave specific powers to the Minister to secure modification of sugar refining agreements, as the market sharing arrangements are called, if he felt that their operation was likely to bear harshly on users and consumers. However, in Committee it was decided to go further than that by laying down as a statutory obligation on the Minister that, when deciding whether or not to approve a refining agreement, he should take into account what effect it would have on the interests of users and consumers of sugar.

Another improvement was also achieved. Not only users and consumers, but the sugar trade in general as well as the House have a right to know in the simplest and plainest terms the financial results of the operations of the Sugar Board during any particular year. With the encouragement of hon. Members opposite, we have set out in the Third Schedule some of the things which the Sugar Board must show in its annual report and accounts. I am sure that all this will help to ensure that the operations of the Sugar Board are known and understood by Parliament and everyone else concerned or interested.

While the Committee accepted—wisely, I think—the suggestion of some of my hon. Friends that the accounts of the Sugar Board should be audited by commercial accountants, the position of this House has been fully safeguarded by retaining for the Comptroller and Auditor-General the responsibility of certifying and reporting upon the Sugar Board's accounts. We have also fully safeguarded Parliamentary control by providing that orders made under Clauses 18 (4), 25, 26 and 27 shall be subject to the affirmative procedure.

I was very gratified to find the Committee—and, I think, the House today, too—united in praise of the work of the British Sugar Corporation. The Corporation's relations with its own workpeople are admirable and I should like to take this opportunity of saying how glad I was to hear recently that the Corporation is starting a pensions scheme for its manual workers, which, I believe, will begin to operate next month. I am sure that the House as a whole will approve this new development.

I think it is partly because of the backing which it has received from both sides of the House, Government and Opposition alike, that the beet industry today, both the farming and the processing sides, is so hightly efficient. One of the reasons for welcoming the Bill is that it serves to confirm the obligations that the Government have under the Agriculture Act, 1947, towards the growers of sugar beet. Likewise, I am confident that the cane sugar producers of the Commonwealth will see in the Bill an earnest of the Government's wholehearted support for the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. With the Agreement behind them and this Bill on the Statute Book, I am sure that the sugar industries in the West Indies, in British Guiana, in Mauritius, in Fiji, in the coastal areas of Queensland and in Natal can look forward to the future with confidence.

The refiners, too, have an important part to play. As the House knows, they have given me an assurance, as they gave before the war, that they will make it their practice to prefer Commonwealth sugar for their home trade requirements provided that it is offered competitively. With their help and with the goodwill of other sections of the sugar trade, the new Sugar Board will, I am confident, be able to face its task with the assurance of general support.

The Bill not only puts an end to direct Government trading in sugar and paves the way for the re-opening of the London Terminal Sugar Market, but I firmly believe that it provides a framework for the further steady expansion, both in confidence and in efficiency, of the sugar industries of this country and the Commonwealth. I therefore hope very much that the House will decide to give the Bill an unopposed Third Reading.

7.44 p.m.

Mr. Bottomley

The Minister has moved the Third Reading with his customary skill and accomplishment. I notice that he has lulled the best part of the House into supporting it by not taking a very prominent part in the debate, but I should not like the right hon. Gentleman to get away with the impression that the Bill will be unopposed. I do not say that we shall oppose it at this stage. We shall have an opportunity presently of hearing further from the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, and if he meets some of the comments that we make we can consider our position.

The Minister said that the proceedings in Committee had been most friendly. We on this side agree and we pay tribute to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, who by their geniality, kindness and consideration at all times made that possible. But while there was little or no clash of personalities, I should be wrong if I gave the impression that there were not many struggles and violent disagreements over matters of principle. The right hon. Gentleman himself has referred to them.

The Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary today have again given the impression of being most reasonable and of meeting the points that we have put to them. I do not accept that they have been altogether reasonable. They have acted solely in the interests of the Government. The Bill was hastily conceived. Even before its Second Reading, the Minister had to make variations. As a result of the thoughtful and considered statements by my hon. and right hon. Friends, he has recognised that what we said was right. Even though his action was delayed, he has incorporated some of our suggestions in the Bill because he knew that they would make more sense and would be better from the Government's point of view. It is not out of consideration for the Opposition that these concessions have been made.

What the Government would have liked to do was, I am sure, not to have presented' the Bill in the way in which it has been put before us for Third Reading today. They would rather have given the whole of the business of the sugar trade over to private enterprise. They would have done that had they not had contractual obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and to the growers of home-produced sugar beet under the Agriculture Act, 1947.

What the Government have done is to continue the policy which they began in 1951 of launching into the doctrinaire course of a so-called free market. The Government have destroyed the planned economy which the Labour Government built up and upon which a great measure of success from 1951 until the crisis began to show itself depended. In retrospect, the public will see that the Government have done damage to themselves and to the country by doing away with the policy of the Labour Government that was hitherto followed.

Mr. Osborne

Stick to sugar.

Mr. Bottomley

Indeed, we can now say that it is more a matter of "profit for the boys" which has been the main consideration. That is one of the reasons why the Government and ourselves part company on the principle of trading for the good of the country as against putting the trade in the hands of private individuals for private gain.

To meet his obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and to the sugar beet growers under the 1947 Act, the Minister has had to create a Sugar Board. It is to have a chairman and four members. They will not necessarily be full-time members but can be part-time members. To create the Board, with many other things that the Government wanted to include in the Bill, the Minister had, as he said when presenting the Bill, to introduce a complicated Measure but one which he described as being fairly simple in its main provisions. All I can say is that we did not find the Bill simple in Committee, and it was made much more difficult for us to understand.

The Minister will remember that on Second Reading—I assure him that we shared his opinion—he said that on Clauses 7 to 16 he looked forward to hearing in the Committee a lucid exposition from my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th November, 1955; Vol. 545, c. 2019, 2026.] As we know, the Government did not even take the trouble to include the Financial Secretary in the Standing Committee.

Mr. Willey

Neither is he here tonight.

Mr. Bottomley

As my hon. Friend says, he is not present tonight. I make no complaint against the Minister in saying that he would be the first to admit that in Committee he could not give as much attention to the Bill as he would have liked. We recognise that he was overworked. He had at the same time to deal with the review of farm prices as well as many other pressing matters.

We did, however, have the benefit of the attendance in Committee of the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, although only when we called for him to be present. I can only presume that he thought it was unnecessary to attend the Committee because the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), who had been the sternest critic of the Government, was not on the Committee and the Joint Under-Secretary, therefore thought he could stay away because there would be nothing for him to do. However, we saw to it that he did not have such an easy time. We made calls on his time, and he readily obeyed.

As far as the Government back benchers were concerned—they are notably absent again tonight—they did little or no talking in Committee. It may be that tonight they are celebrating the end of the Bill. I make an exception in the case of one hon. Member who has taken an interest in the sugar-beet industry, but the Government specially placed on the Sugar Bill Committee some hon. Members who had specialist qualifications. For instance, the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) was put on the Committee. During the Second Reading debate, he was very keen that the Sugar Board should also buy Commonwealth sugar outside the Commonwealth Agreement, but during our proceedings in Committee not one word was said about that and nothing has been said about it this afternoon.

Then there was the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), who is the Conservative Party's expert on Commonwealth affairs, but though we were discussing something of great importance to the Commonwealth as a whole, the hon. Gentleman had not one word to say in Committee. What was most pathetic was that one Conservative Member, as he told us in his maiden speech, had tried for twenty years to get into the House. I had to remind him that having waited that time he had sat in the Sugar Bill Committee and had not even been allowed to open his mouth. How disappointing after twenty years. No wonder that on several occasions the Government could not get a quorum. Indeed, on one occasion the Committee had to adjourn because of that.

I cannot leave out, of course, the gallant warrior of the Committee proceedings, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary himself. He was overburdened and overworked, but, as I said a little while ago, by his very kindness and generosity—indeed, I begin to wonder whether Malenkov was on the Committee—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

I gather that this is a friendly debate, but we are on the Third Reading of the Bill.

Mr. Bottomley

As I have said, what separates the two sides of the House is this matter of principle. As I see it, we on this side of the House were always putting forward the interest of the workers and the consumers, whereas the Government always seemed to be taking the side of those with other interests.

The Sugar Board which is created under the Bill—and I quote from a Report— is an accounting agency leaving it to private traders to make all the physical arrangements for transferring sugar from the producing countries to the United Kingdom in the most economical way and to suit the convenience of the producers. If that is so, then I put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that the Board ought not to be concerned only with the convenience of the producers. The consumers certainly ought to have a say in this. Should they not be more strongly represented, or at least have some representation on the Board? I know that the Parliamentary Secretary would argue that representation of the consumers is achieved through hon. Members of this House. But if we carry that to its logical conclusion, then it is questionable whether we should not change from a democracy to another kind of system. As I said in Committee, as a result of experience of past Acts of Parliament, we know that marketing boards provide for consumer interests. The Government ought to do something in this direction. It is certainly easier to represent consumers of sugar than it is to represent consumers of tomatoes or cucumbers.

We on this side say that when the Bill is passed it will result in an increase in the price of sugar to the consumer. The Minister, I know, says that that will not be so. I should like to ask him a question with which the Parliamentary Secretary can deal when he winds up. The Ministry of Agriculture has just conducted an annual price review with the farmers. Under that review, increased prices are to be given for the sugar beet produced this year and next. Will that result in a higher retail price for sugar or is the Sugar Board going to be allowed to incur a loss? If there is to be an increase in the price of sugar, then, in my judgment, it will be borne by the consumer instead of as before by the taxpayer. I believe this to be a retrogressive move and one which will bear particularly hardly on the old-age pensioners especially at a time of rising prices and when pensions are lagging well behind the increase in the cost of living.

All of us in Committee, and again today have paid tribute to the British Sugar Corporation. We are entitled to say that we believe that this organisation is going to suffer under the provisions of the Bill. During the Committee stage we never received an adequate answer on this point, but I am hoping that we shall get one tonight. The current refining agreement between the British Sugar Corporation and the rest of the industry—for which we continually pressed in Committee—was only presented to us on the last day of our proceedings. It certainly did not give the Opposition a chance of looking at the details in Committee. Perhaps we can now have a look at the marketing arrangements under that agreement since we did not have the opportunity of doing so in Committee owing to its late presentation. It is predominantly an agreement between the Corporation and Tate and Lyle.

Here, again, there is a clear difference and difficulty before us. The British sugar Corporation is allowed to market refined sugar in certain areas, but any special sugar, even if granulated, falls outside the agreement. The Corporation could quite easily find a market undermined by other varieties of sugar, in spite of the zoning system. I am not suggesting that consumer choice should be limited, but why should not the Corporation be allowed to market whatever variety of sugar it likes?

Mr. Amory

It can

Mr. Bottomley

Is the British Sugar Corporation allowed to market cube sugar?

Mr. Amory

If it wishes to do so, yes.

Mr. Bottomley

But would it be to its financial disadvantage if it did so? Is the agreement made in such a way that it prevents the Corporation having the opportunity of freely doing these things? Can we have not only this agreement, but any future agreement between the British Sugar Corporation and the trade placed in the Library of the House? As restrictions are placed upon the Corporation by the Treasury, anything imposed by the Treasury without the support of this House ought to be publicised and available to us for examination in order that we may be certain that the Corporation can do what I fear it cannot do at the moment, but which the Minister says it is possible for it to do.

In view of the British Sugar Corporation's increased refining capacity, is it right that there should be the present carve up of the market? It is carved up geographically and certainly, as I have said, as regards the different varieties of sugar. Is such a situation to be considered permanent? This is something to test the Government's belief in competition.

Later, we are to discuss the Restrictive Practices Bill, but within the present Bill it is suggested that we give Parliamentary sanction to restrictive practices. Clause 25 deals with them. It is odd that we should propose to do away with private courts in the legislation which is to come, while giving Parliamentary sanction to restrictive practices in this Bill.

Another fundamental difference between us concerns our fears about the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, which ensures the best conditions for the supply of sugar to the home consumer and enables us to meet our obligations to the Colonial Territories by the promotion of welfare and other facilities for their betterment. The Government seem anxious to do away with State trading and are forced to introduce this inadequate, costly and unnecessary machinery in order to face up to a mere modicum of responsibility under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

At present the supply of foreign sugar coming into this country is limited because the State does the buying, but when the State steps out the buying of sugar will be left to British refiners. I suppose it is for them in competition to check the flow of foreign imports. At the moment there is protection because of the Act of 1928, but as soon as the Bill is law, the French—this has been indicated by importers that I know—will enter our market in a keen, competitive and, some may say, unfair manner. Even the chairman of Messrs. Tate & Lyle has said that if the French imports increased difficulties might arise.

We know what that means. There will be pressure upon the Government to give complete freedom to the trade, and that will undermine the Commmonwealth Sugar Agreement. I know that within the Bill the Minister has power to step in, but in the face of pressure upon him and his Government we know, having witnessed the behaviour of the Chancellor of Exchequer, what will happen. The Chancellor would like to reimpose control. The present Minister of Agriculture will be forced to consider abandoning the present arrangements which do not go the whole way to meet the wishes of the free market.

The Minister knows that his own supporters have already given him a warning. One of them pleaded with the right hon. Gentleman not to look at the scheme as a sort of boat on a pond attached to a piece of string. He urged the Minister to dispose of all the Socialist trimmings. That kind of agitation and pressure will grow. It is a threat to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

The Bill worsens conditions for the consumer. The simplest and most economic way to implement the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement is Government purchase of sugar. The Bill will, in our judgment, further weaken the confidence of Governments in long-term trade agreements within the Commonwealth. It puts the merchants in an overwhelmingy strong position but affords no advantage to the consumer. Unless we get something nearer to our point of view than has been expressed to us so far, we shall have to consider opposing the Third Reading.

8.5 p.m.

Mr. Dye

In discussing the Bill on its Third Reading we have to remember that the Committee spent forty hours considering it during sixteen sittings. The proceedings were to the advantage of some hon. Members because they learned a lot about legislation affecting the production of sugar. All hon. Members who took part in the proceedings learned something more than they knew before about the arrangements and the organisation for the production of this important commodity which is in everyday use.

Owing to the protracted nature of the Committee discussions it has been necessary to delay the coming into effect of this Measure by a year. The Government expected that they would get the Bill through all its stages by April, 1956, and would then be able to set up the organisation for it to come into effect. Owing to the lack of preparation it was necessary to prolong the Committee discussion and try to improve the Bill, and it will not now be effective until 1957. We opposed the Bill on Second Reading because there was more in it that we disliked than we liked, yet we agree that there are many good things in it.

Without a Bill of this description it would be difficult to carry on the steady production of sugar in the Commonwealth and here which ensures that those who have invested their capital in the industry get an adequate return and those who work in it get an adequate wage and full employment. The purpose of the Measure is to enable the production of sugar to continue in the Commonwealth and to ensure that provision is made to pay the producers a price that will ensure a decent standard of living.

It has not been possible in the past to pay decent wages to native workers in the Colonies and in the Commonwealth. It is a matter of regret, and indeed of shame, that workers have been exploited at very low wages and the resources of the Colonies have been exploited and rapidly deteriorated, through the efforts of those who have produced sugar. We must now either attempt to stabilise sugar-producing industries in the Colonies at decent standards or provide by other means for the proper maintenance of the people in the Colonies. It is far better to organise a sugar-producing industry of this character than for the people to be unemployed and dependent upon subventions from the Exchequer to maintain them. We are giving by this Bill a continuity to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement that will enable production of sugar to continue.

We are also continuing the production of beet sugar in this country because it is an essential part of our self-support in time of war. Sugar beet growing was introduced mainly in order that we should be able to produce more of our own sugar when we were nearly cut off from supplies from abroad, yet this part of our agriculture has been of very great benefit to the arable parts of the country. It has resulted in an improved standard of cultivation and improvements to other crops; indeed, the better the growers of sugar beet the better the farmers in those areas. It is of some importance that we are continuing at about the same level of sugar production here at home.

Although all I desired in relation to sugar beet growing has not been embodied in the Bill, I appreciate certain of the provisions which have been made. I appreciate the steps which the Minister of Agriculture has taken about arrangements, or discussions for better arrangements, for fixing the price of beet pulp to the growers. It is not a matter embodied in the Bill, but the question does arise, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has been able to do something about the arrangements between the Corporation and the National Farmers' Union to enable a fairer price to be charged to the growers for the dried or wet pulp which they receive back from the factories. This is a matter of considerable importance to the growers.

It is also essential that workers in the factories should be fairly paid, receiving wages more compatible with those of workers in other industries. This, however, will not be possible unless the arrangements which have been made in the past, and which are continued under the Bill, are carried out. I was very pleased to learn from the right hon. Gentleman that the Corporation is discussing the introduction of incentive payments to the workers and also a pensions scheme. It has been a matter of regret that workers in some factories have been covered by a pension scheme whereas similar workers in other factories have not. If we are to subsidise the British Sugar Corporation, then it would be the general wish of all Members that the conditions of employment and of pension on retirement should be adequate for those who are engaged.

The principal purpose of the Bill is to, enable the London Sugar Market to be opened, and this is where we disagree. Why should we on this side of the House be apprehensive of a return to an open market for sugar? The first reason is to be found in conditions which exist in other parts of the world, but the main reason arises from our experience in the last two or three years in other commodity markets.

What happened when the London Tea Market was opened? There was speculation; there were rising prices there were rumours about shortage of supplies. The result was that the retail price of tea rose rapidly, and it was a matter of grave concern to all consumers of tea. Then, apparently for no reason, the price fell; but it never came back to the level at which it was before the London Tea Market was opened.

In systems not of completely free enterprise but partly controlled by the Government and partly controlled by groups of producers or traders, the difference between the price which is paid to the producer and that which the consumer has to pay seems to grow bigger and bigger, and the margins operating become wider. Tea is one example.

The same applies to the meat market. We have seen how prices rapidly rose after the decontrol of fatstock. Then prices of fat cattle fell to much lower levels; but it does not seem to make much difference whether the wholesale or market price is high or low—there is little difference in the price charged to the consumer.

This mechanism of the so-called open or free market does not seem to operate to the prime advantage of the producer on the one hand or of the consumer on the other. Obviously, it operates to the advantage of the traders.

Therefore, seeing that the main purpose of the Bill is to open the London Sugar Market, we look with apprehension to the future price of sugar and the marketing conditions of sugar. Unless there is an element of control, consumers will probably be asked to pay more, and the margins of profit made by the interests concerned will grow much wider. We have seen the effect of fluctuating prices in other commodities. Fluctuating prices bring uncertainty to producers and make consumers pay more.

This aspect of the Bill we deplore. The setting up of a Sugar Board to act as accountancy agent may not have a steadying effect. In fact, the main forces influencing the price of sugar will be beyond the control either of the Sugar Board or Her Majesty's Government. It seems to me that there may be wide fluctuations, with the Sugar Board at a disadvantage and having at times to impose a levy to make up for the difference between the price at which it will buy sugar from the Commonwealth and Colonies or from the Corporation and the price at which it will sell to the refiners.

The refiners will always be safeguarded under the Bill. They are to be put into a lovely kind of hot-house; as a plant they can only flourish—they cannot fade away. But they can flourish only at the consumer's expense. That aspect of the Bill, therefore, we heartily dislike.

The weak position of the Sugar Board in this set-up is equally disliked. The weakness of the Board is reflected in its inability to store or transport supplies of sugar; its duty is to buy sugar at its source of origin and sell it there to some concern, some corporation, which will accept the purchase of it. There are fluctuations in the supply of sugar. Since it is a natural product, supplies are more plentiful in some years than in others. We would have thought that the organisation in a position to act as a kind of cushion or storage agency would be the Board rather than the refiners who represent private enterprise.

The Minister himself apparently can be a buyer and storer of sugar operating independently or through the Board. This we think is a weakness. I would much rather have seen an effort made in the Bill more properly to integrate this aspect of our situation, namely the holding of strategic supplies of sugar. This seems to be a kind of ad hoc business, which the Minister will carry on in addition to the Board doing its business and the refineries operating under private enterprise. It seems to me that in future, as now, the taxpayer will be saddled with the high cost of sending strategic supplies from storage to refineries long distances away. The cost probably should fall on the taxpayer, but the job should be done in the most economical and efficient manner.

We would rather have seen the duty put on the Board to buy, transport and store the sugar needed both for immediate consumption and for storing against times of need. It may be that in the future the war clouds will recede, that the Iron Curtain will be lifted, the threat of war disappear, and that it will not be necessary to store these supplies. It may be that the most economical way is to get the sugar flowing from the source of origin to the refineries, the distributors and the consumers with the least possible delay, but we think that there will ever be need for storage facilities, and we are not satisfied with those planned.

We have, of course, had our differences with the Government on State trading. They look upon it as an anathema—something to be avoided. We say that any commodity so essential to the life of the commounity, and one which is used in every household for every meal, is something in which the State might with advantage take a proper and bigger share. We would rather have seen a stronger and bigger Board with the powers now exercised by the Ministry transferred to the Board and their importance appreciated.

Although we dislike the Bill in these respects, we appreciate that the Government have paid regard to many of the arguments that we have advanced. We can now see in the Bill improvements for the continuance of the industry both at home and in the Colonies, with better conditions for the workers and with, we hope, some safeguards for the consumers. The fact remains that in recent years the price of sugar to the consumer has gone up more than has the cost of producing raw sugar. That is quite clear. It is because of the rising prices of sugar and other commodities over the last few years that we view with apprehension the Government's attitude to this vital problem.

8.24 p.m.

Mr. G. Jeger

We are now reaching the closing stages of the Bill, and I am quite sure that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary is very relieved as he watches the clock and counts the minutes as they go by. He did, indeed, have a very long innings, when the Standing Committee sat far forty hours during sixteen meetings. Much of the burden fell upon his shoulders. Both he and his right hon. Friend were hard pressed to justify many of the Clauses, and it is to their credit that they listened to the voice of common sense from our side of the Committee and accepted some of our Amendments.

They accepted only a limited number of the Amendments which we proposed. Unfortunately, their minds were closed to the main ideas which we put forward, ideas which, had they been accepted, would have greatly improved the Bill. But we must express our thanks for the small concessions that they have made, concessions not so much to us as to the appeal of common sense to their minds—[An HON. MEMBER: "Their what?"] By their political bias they were precluded from listening to us as political opponents, but they recognised the voice of common sense when they were able to divorce it from the political bias.

They were forced to listen to us, because the voices of their hon. Friends were absent completely. In fact, until I sat in the Standing Committee to discuss the Bill I had not realised that it was possible to sit for forty hours, through sixteen sessions, without speaking a word. Yet that is what happened in respect of sixteen or seventeen hon. Members on the Conservative side of the Committee. Never once did any of them come to the rescue or attempt in any way to support the Government's arguments or to oppose ours. I think that there should be a special message of thanks from both the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to this side of the House for the work which we did to make the Bill something nearer what it ought to be.

There are still many faults with the Measure. We are still profoundly dissatisfied with it. We hope that some reassurances will be given to back up some of those given in the Standing Committee. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) has said, we are particularly perturbed about the Bill's effect on the Commonwealth. We take a pride in the Commonwealth, and a great interest in the way in which it works. We take a particular interest in the welfare of those working on the sugar plantations within the Commonwealth, and are concerned that they should not suffer by anything provided in the Bill—or later.

I know that the Colonial Secretary was prevailed upon to come to one of the sittings of the Committee to tell us that he had consulted the Commonwealth sugar interests, and that they had expressed themselves as having no objections to the provisions of the Bill. We had a similar assurance from the Minister, thereby underlining our insistence on such assurances. At the same time we are not quite satisfied that the interests of the Commonwealth are as well protected as they might be.

We, on this side of the House, have also spoken to representatives of the Commonwealth, those who are concerned with growing the sugar and getting it to us; those who are really more concerned about sugar than we are, because to us it is only a commodity to sweeten beverages, but to them it is one on which they live and upon which the prosperity of their countries depends. They have to accept the provisions of this Bill faute de mieux. They cannot help themselves. They know that there is a Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and that it would be a very bad thing indeed for this Government to repudiate it or to cut short any of its provisions. But when we proposed, in an Amendment, that the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement should be extended or that there might be safeguards connected with it, we were voted down by the Government side of the Committee.

We know from our experience and our contact with people in the Commonwealth that they are concerned that there should be a future for their Commonwealth sugar beyond the existing Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and there is no guarantee for that in the provisions of this Bill. On the contrary, the philosophy and ideas behind the Bill point to the future of Commonwealth sugar as being rather uncertain and likely to cause anxiety and worry in the future to the sugar growers and producers in the Commonwealth.

I now wish to discuss the Board. The composition of the Board was discussed fully in Committee. We tried to elucidate what the members' functions, salaries, etc. were. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary gave us a number of different ideas about them. By reference to the Committee stage one can gather that on one occasion we were told that they were merely to be accounting agents and that their functions would be extremely limited. One wondered what sort of men would constitute the Board if that was to be their real duty.

Then we were told that they were to be real businessmen who would be watching the market from day to day, buying and selling and following the normal processes relating to sugar. We were told, in a semi-sneer, that there had to be certain safeguards became some of the members of the Board might be guilty of temporary aberrations. If they are to be accountants' agents, and if they are also to be liable to be guilty of temporary aberrations, it causes us to wonder what sort of people will be appointed to this Board, what their functions and capacity will be, and what confidence they will have in themselves if the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary show little confidence in them to start with.

What we were not able to get at was what their functions would be regarding the protection of the consumer—and that, after all, is what the function of Government nominees should be. The Government represents the consumer and the public. The Government nominees should be able to represent the Government interests and consumer interests—that is, the mass of the people in the country.

We are not able to elicit whether any of their powers and duties would be outside pure business and would be within the framework of the philosophy of protecting consumers from the higgling of the market, from the producers and from the semi-monopoly stage in which the sugar industry is at the moment. We were very disappointed about that, and I am very sorry indeed that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have not told us anything at this stage about the composition of the Board.

I referred to the fact that the salaries, appointments, conditions and terms of the Board are very vague. I hope that the members will be selected from among the people of the highest possible repute, of the highest possible ability and with the best intentions, but I hope that when they take up their office they will not merely be stooges who are suggested to the Minister by various representatives of the industry, and that they will not be known as the "sugar daddies" of the Board. That is something which we would all deprecate, but it is something of which there is a real danger if the appointments are not conducted properly.

We send this Bill forward, I suppose, as the Government can command their majority in the Lobbies, even if they cannot command the support of their Members on the benches. When this Bill goes forward to another place I hope that the Minister, with his delayed action thoughts, will think of a few more improvements based on our Amendments and suggestions, and will have them incorporated before the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

8.34 p.m.

Mr. R. Moss (Meriden)

The virtues of the Bill are mainly negative. If the Minister's wages depended upon his productivity and if he were to obey the injunction given to the population by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would not have his wages increased as a result of this Measure because it does not increase the productivity of the Government.

The object of the Bill is to set up a Sugar Board. Clause 1 says: There shall be established a Board … The Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary have constantly referred to the nature of this Board. It is an executive Board. Its functions are quite narrow. It is an accounting agency, and so on. It is obviously intended to be an instrument rather than a responsible institution. Yet its functions are in fact very important in a negative sense.

For example, the Bill states that one of the functions of the Sugar Board shall be that of purchasing Commonwealth sugar. This is a most important duty for it to perform, for Commonwealth supplies under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, 1951, amount to some 1½ million tons. Moreover, the Bill is also concerned with the sugar beet industry in this country—another obligation which is the responsibility of the Government.

The British sugar beet industry, which dates from 1925, supplies between 600,000 and 700,000 tons of sugar—last year in actual fact 636,000 tons. But these long-term contracts have been established under the trading conditions as they have existed hitherto, and the Bill has the negative virtue of not disturbing them, or at least so the Minister of Agriculture has proclaimed again and again. If that is so, we on this side of the House are extremely glad, because a third factor is then involved, namely, our balance of payments position, about which we have had some interesting information today in the Economic Survey of 1956.

One of the objects of the Measure is said to be to have regard to our balance of payments position. The Sugar Board will have to operate in the light of our balance of payments position, but that, too, is a problem which has existed under present trading arrangements and is no way affected by the arrangements made in the Bill. It might be supposed that the arrangements made for the establishment of a Sugar Board might do something to improve the export of refined sugar which has become a very useful source of foreign currency, but again, that export trade has been revived since the end of the war under present trading arrangements. Nor does it seem possible that the establishment of this Board will affect prices to the consumer. In fact, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said on 10th November that if there is any alteration in the price of sugar, it is an alteration which could take place whether we had the Bill or not.

All that this amounts to is that the Minister of Agriculture was right when he said that he did not intend to undo any of the work of the past by bringing in the Bill, but we have to ask ourselves: what positive virtue does it possess, or is it entirely negative? Is it a Bill which achieves nothing positive by itself? I can find only two reasons which justify the passage of the Bill. I hope that I have made myself clear to the hon. Gentleman. I am trying to say that the great issues are not affected by the Bill; they do not justify the introduction of the Bill.

There must be some other reason for its introduction. I think the reason was given by the Minister when he said that he was introducing it to end State trading in sugar, and by the Parliamentary Secretary when he said that he wanted to take the buying and selling of sugar out of the hands of the Government machine. The Bill sets up a small Sugar Board, with no responsible functions—it is an instrumentalist Board to carry out accounting or executive functions only—to end State trading in sugar.

The second reason for the Bill is to make possible the opening of the London terminal sugar market, which the Parliamentary Secretary described as a very useful step. He did not produce any evidence to show why it was a very useful step, and so far as concerns the evidence which he has provided, or, rather, has not provided, that is a mere hope.

I regard the Bill as an ideological idiosyncrasy. It has been introduced, and we are now asked to give it a Third Reading, because of the ideological prejudices which exist in the mind of the Minister, who still refers to our modern economic system in terms of free enterprise, supply and demand and other laws which may have operated almost generations ago but are now obsolete. The Bill originates in that sort of prejudice.

I welcome the fact that, according to the exhortations of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, the Bill does not appear to imperil the gains which have been made under State trading. Those are its negative virtues. As to its positive virtues, they hardly justify its introduction.

8.43 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I am sorry that the Minister has left the Chamber because I wished to refer to his speech. Having sat for forty hours through the Committee stage of the Bill, he might, surely, have been able to spend an hour or two with us tonight, particularly to hear what has been rare in the consideration of the Bill, a Scottish voice.

I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will have an opportunity to wind up the debate. He certainly did not get much chance to speak during the Committee stage. Hon. Members should not be too severe on him for that. The trouble has been that three or four Scottish Bills have been in progress at the same time. I think that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary appreciates the difficulty in which we sometimes find ourselves, and I hope he will use his influence with those who are directly concerned with Bills so to arrange business that proper attention can be paid to them by the hon. Members concerned.

The Bill, the Third Reading of which we are concerned with tonight, is presented by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The right hon. Gentleman is supported by the Secretary of State for Scotland—he is absent—by the Colonial Secretary—he is absent—by the President of the Board of Trade—he is absent—by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—he is absent—and by the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—he is absent. The only effective representatives whose names are on the Bill and who are with us now are the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland who, I understand, is representing the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Minister declared, with his customary flamboyance, that this was a step towards the ending of State trading and towards freedom for the industry: it was not only something desirable, but it was indeed a triumph. I suggest to the Minister and to those who support him that we are no longer living in the era of the slogans of 1945–1950. Those slogans are being slaughtered every day by hon. Members opposite. When the Minister talks about a return to freedom it makes me wonder if he has read his Bill and whether or not he can return to freedom.

This is the essential dilemma in which the Government find themselves. They not only have the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, in which not the people in the industry but the Government are concerned, but also the International Sugar Agreement, which again binds the Government. Whether the Government like it or not, they are in the sugar industry, and have to stay in it.

They read this Bill as a charter of freedom, but it is crammed with controls. I wonder whether hon. Members opposite who still believe in this slogan business of "Set the people free" have read the Bill. There is not a Clause in it without a restriction. Orders, regulations, limitations, fixing of prices—it is all here. In fact, if this is a step towards freedom it is a gey, frail, feeble and faltering one—I should say a very frail, feeble and faltering one.

The Bill shows a lack of conviction in the approach of the Minister this matter. When we consider what is at stake is the well-being of primary producers of sugar—through the Colonial Office we have very deep and grave responsibilities for them—and that of the consumers of sugar all over Scotland, England and Wales, in our constituencies, for whom we have direct responsibilities and with whom we are in much more common contact, the importance of the Bill, and not only the Bill but the tendency to which it points, become all the more evident.

If the Minister really believes what he says, it means that he wants to end all Government concern in sugar as soon as he can. That will be a very bitter day indeed for the Commonwealth. It is time that the right hon. Gentleman cut himself away from those worn-out slogans of the past about State trading. The fact is that from the point of view of our Commonwealth and the well-being of the Commonwealth, as well as of the industry at home, the Government must be concerned with this industry.

Certainly we in Scotland are concerned with the workers in the refining section of the industry. It is well known that one of the major industries in one of the largest towns in the west of Scotland is the sugar industry and naturally we must be concerned about what is to happen to it. That town is a trading port and, if the Commonwealth is to be let down, eventually that part of the world will feel the effect in other ways because we cannot tamper with the well-being and prosperity of our Commonwealth without that affecting our trade.

I am sorry that the President of the Board of Trade is not here. [An HON. MEMBER: "Send for him."] If I thought he would be of any use I would send for him, but I am more inclined to send him somewhere.

I want to direct a word or two now to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special reference to food. One of the limitations laid upon those in the industry is that they must, whether they like it or not, buy certain sugar at a certain price, and they must adopt certain practices in relation to the sale of that sugar. They must not exceed the profit margins which are laid down.

Here we have to consider the kind of firm we are dealing with, which is pretty near monopoly. If a firm is found guilty of an offence, according to Clause 28 of the Bill, the penalty is a fine not exceeding £100 on summary conviction. This is going to kill Tate and Lyle, I am sure. In the case of a conviction on indictment, the fine is one not exceeding £2,000. Really, we are doing worse to salmon poachers in Scotland, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland knows it. Why, only the other day, two fellows were given 18 months' imprisonment, and their appeal was turned down, because a very serious view is taken of that kind of thing in Scotland. Should we not take just as serious a view when dealing with a commodity which is of considerable concern to every person in this country?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary had a word or two to say on that subject. The hon. Gentleman said that it was not just the case that a firm would be fined. If a firm was convicted of an offence, it would not only incur a fine, but also the distrust of the Minister of the day. The Ministers—all five of them concerned with Scotland—have been distrusting me for a long time, and have earned my distrust of them for a long time, but I do not think that they are particularly worried about it, any more than I am worried about their distrust.

I do not think that the Government have recognised the importance of this matter from the point of view of the primary producers or from that of the consumers in this country. Certainly, all that we have here, as one of my hon. Friends has said, is a purely technical Bill, which is based upon this ideological hatred of State trading. I take a very serious view of it, and I feel that this is just a demonstration of a continuing tendency, indeed, a determination, that no matter at what cost and to whom, the Government are to continue with this destructive legislation. I feel that the interests of the primary producers in the Commonwealth and the consumers at home are being sacrificed, and will be sacrificed, on the old altar of Tory political prejudice and dogma.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. Willey

Having heard my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I think it a pity that he did not serve with us on the Standing Committee—

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend will realise that I was serving on three other Committees under the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Willey

I appreciate the reason, but I still express the sorrow.

I wish also to express sorrow for the Minister. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has found himself, and still finds himself, in a very invidious position. From the start, we have made it clear that this Bill sets out to do a number of things which are creditable. But this so upset the right hon. and hon. Friends of the right hon. Gentleman that it was almost impossible for them to contribute anything during the Committee stage discussions. They have avoided the Report stage of this Bill, except when the provocative word "profits" was mentioned. Not one hon. Gentleman opposite has said a kind word for the Minister during the Third Reading debate speeches. I do not think this a fair way to treat the right hon. Gentleman. He would get more sympathy from hon. Members on this side of the House.

We criticise many of the things done by this Bill. We complain of the inadequacies of this Measure, but I think it a remarkable thing that not one hon. Member of the right hon. Gentleman's party has been able to give him any praise at all for what he has done and for the arduous time he suffered during the Committee stage discussions.

We spent a very instructive time during those discussions, as I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree. We learnt about many things, including the rheumatism of the right hon. Gentleman's aunt. We learnt a good deal about sugar too, and I think that even the inarticulate hon. Members opposite who served on that Committee would now probably find that it would not be very difficult to obtain a degree in sugar at one of the minor American universities.

I would say at once that our discussions were not only instructive but in part the work was rewarding. I join with my right hon. Friends in saying that we found the Minister conciliatory. We may now say that the right hon. Gentleman has accepted an exceptional number of Amendments, some of which, as he himself has conceded, are of considerable importance and, taken together, have improved the Bill. As we are now back in the House, I think I should mention that we had the opportunity of correcting the impression created by the Parliamentary Secretary about Tate and Lyle, both the firm and members of the family. It was conceded that they have substantial holdings in the British Sugar Corporation.

I would almost go so far as to say that the right hon. Gentleman conceded everything except the doctrinaire prejudices of his back benchers who have rewarded him so badly. Apart from those prejudices, the right hon. Gentleman went a long way to meet many of the points we raised during the discussions in Committee. It is therefore with great regret that we now find that we must continue to oppose the Bill, because the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to follow his common sense; has not been able to recognise the realities and has felt bound to appease the inarticulate members of his party and their doctrinaire prejudices.

As has been said, time after time, we face a position which is governed by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. During the Second Reading debate the Minister quoted with approbation the special correspondent of The Times, who said that the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was undoubtedly the most successful experiment Great Britain has ever made. I think that rather undue praise for this particular aspect of the work of the Labour Government. But I share with the right hon. Gentleman an appreciation of the importance of this bulk purchase Agreement. It is a State-to-State agreement, and it is because we recognise the importance of this Agreement that we can no longer talk airily about a free market in sugar. Time after time, the right hon. Gentleman told us that he accepts and welcomes the present situation. To face it he embarked on a new venture. We on this side of the House admire his courage. To face it the right hon. Gentleman decided to take the principle of nationalisation into commerce. He decided to create a nationalised board trading in sugar.

In the Bill the Minister sets up a State-trading organisation to deal with sugar. Our complaint is that having been so bold, having shown such initiative, he panicked. He should not then have run away crying to his doctrinaire supporters, "All I am doing is setting up an accounting agency." He recognised the impossibility of a free market. He took a bold step and he should have persevered in his realism. The difficulty was, and I have mentioned this repeatedly, that his back benchers prevented him from achieving his purpose.

The dilemma that faces the Government is that not only is the import of sugar governed by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, but the production of sugar beet sugar is bound and governed by the guaranteed price. It is those two factors which make it nonsense any longer to talk of a free market in sugar, but too many of the people behind the right hon. Gentleman believe that the first and essential virtue is to seek unrestrained profit on a free market. What has upset the right hon. Gentleman's plans is that he has tried to provide the middle man with as unrestrained a profit as he could provide in circumstances where the middle man no longer plays a proper function.

We therefore have the worst of both worlds. We do not have a free market. On the contrary we have an avoidable rigidity of bureaucratic controls. It is for this reason that the right hon. Gentleman has suffered a boycott on Standing Committee and Third Reading. We have price controls, allocations, import and export controls, agreements in restraint of trade and all sorts of supervisory powers. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said, we have a Bill peppered with penalties.

All these powers are negative. Not one is positive, and they are all bound to cause unnecessary frustration and vexation. Apparently those who advise the right hon. Gentleman believed that what was necessary was a nationalised Board comprised of persons with commercial ability and seized with the purpose of protecting the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and British sugar beet production. Instead, we have an accountancy agency which will be reinforced with a battery of accountants and calculating machines and which will be unnecessarily circumscribed and we place limitations on the power of the Sugar Board to set about its task of implementing and safeguarding the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. All that we needed was a responsible State-trading body.

What is true of the Sugar Board is equally true of the British Sugar Corporation. I join with the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. and hon. Friends in paying tribute to the achievements of the British Sugar Corporation. I pay tribute to the Corporation's efficiency. In fact, I set the initiative in this regard on Second Reading, for I felt that the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat inhibited in paying tribute to a body which is essentially a nationalised corporation. Again, if we so pay tribute to the Corporation, why not recognise the reality and transform it into a proper public utility performing an essential national service and implementing, just as the Sugar Board should implement the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, the guarantee to the British sugar beet producers?

Once again, the right hon. Gentleman has not taken advantage of his opportunity. He has preserved the anomaly of private capital, which, the Parliamentary Secretary must now concede, is substantially the capital of Tate and Lyle and of the Tate and Lyle families and other sugar refiners. Solely because the right hon. Gentleman continues that anomaly, he must continue the unnecessary and complicated supervisory arrangements and all the vexatious bureaucracy, which is necessary because we have what is in effect a public corporation retaining within itself an element of private capital.

I do not complain that the right hon. Gentleman has not given me all particulars of the incentive agreement because, as he has pointed out, there will shortly be a new agreement and we will see the particulars of that agreement; but we have all these arrangements, which, as far as I can see, are devoted only to the purpose of ensuring that the shareholders shall have reasonable profits in perpetuity. Any sensible person would concede that that is the purpose of the incentive arrangements.

Turning to the refiners, we have got it admitted now without dubiety that the whole of the domestic market is carved up and that we have complete market-sharing arrangements, so complete that we have to provide an express provision allowing the agreement in restraint of trade and, as all who followed our proceedings in Standing Committee are bound now to agree, a monopoly which is backed by the State and depends upon State intervention and support.

I want to say a word about consumers. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman went a little way to meet us but he did not go by any means far enough. We pressed him to accept as part of the Bill provision for consumer consultation, but we did not get it. We got a little—the Bill is better than it was before—but we did not get consultation. Quite apart from our general criticism of a monopoly reinforced by State support, we are disappointed that in such circumstances as these, recognised as such on all sides of the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman could not provide expressly and explicitly for direct consumer consultation.

Our further fundamental criticism of the Bill as it now appears before us is of the way in which price support both of the Commonwealth sugar producer and of the home beet producer is provided by a poll tax on every consumer. The Parliamentary Secretary will agree—we had correspondence about it—

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and, 40 Members being present

Mr. Willey

The Parliamentary Secretary will agree that the price of Commonwealth sugar under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement contains a substantial element for colonial welfare and improvement. He will also agree—this is a matter which we also discussed—that as far as the guaranteed price for British sugar beet goes that, again, contains an element, although we cannot specify the extent of the element, provided on the assumption that this industry must be supported on national and particularly strategic grounds.

It seems to us that in this Bill the Government are pursuing a course which they have pursued in regard to other foodstuffs—to remove those elements of support which ought properly to be borne by the taxpayer and to place them on the consumer. We regard this as grossly unfair. We do not think it right and proper to relieve Surtax payers at the expense of the housewife, because this is what this means.

In this, the Government are pursuing the same course as they followed recently in reducing the bread and milk subsidies. Apart from the merits of the case, I should have thought that this was the last occasion on which to do it. If we are to give support for colonial welfare and for British sugar-beet production on strategic grounds, then that support ought to be fairly and properly borne by the taxpayer. But what the Minister is doing is to use this occasion, as he has used other occasions, to see that the support is paid across the grocer's counter.

We object to that. In the first place, we think that this element of support ought to be identifiable, that we ought to know what contribution we are making to the improvement of affairs in the Colonies and to sugar-beet production. We believe that not only should we know the extent of the support, but that, knowing it, it should be fairly borne by the taxpayer. We oppose any such step as has been taken under this Bill to transfer this burden to the housewife.

It is with some regret, having acknowledged to some degree the conciliatory attitude of the right hon. Gentleman, that for these reasons we must disappoint him and continue to oppose the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman set out with good intentions, but was diverted by those who put private interest before national interest. It is unfortunate that, having taken such a bold step, the right hon. Gentleman had not the courage to carry it out to its logical conclusions.

It is regrettable that as a consequence of that the right hon. Gentleman, whatever he may say, has caused apprehension concerning the intentions of the Government and concerning Commonwealth sugar production. He has done that because he has weakened the structure upon which the price support of Commonwealth sugar depended. It is unfortunate that at home he has not taken the opportunity—I should have thought that he could have satisfied some of his hon. Friends about this—of ridding us of a good deal of bureaucracy which is avoidable and which arises simply because there is an element of private capital in the British Sugar Corporation.

It is unfortunate, in the context of our difficulties today, that the right hon. Gentleman and his Government are taking this opportunity, as they take every other opportunity, to transfer burdens—in this case the support of the Commonwealth and of British sugar production—from the taxpayer to the housewife as she shops. The right hon. Gentleman has missed the opportunity of presenting the House with a very good Bill. Instead, he has presented us with a Bill that, according to his own confession, he hopes will not attain its purpose.

The right hon. Gentleman does not want a vigorous, enterprising Sugar Board, but a bunch of accountants making calculations. He wants a British Sugar Corporation that will continue to represent the interests of Messrs. Tate & Lyle. It is too late to expect repentance. It is hoping too much from the Parliamentary Secretary. However, when the Bill is considered in another place, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will show a little more courage and will follow the dictates of his own common sense.

9.16 p.m.

Mr. H. Nicholls

I am so sorry that the nerves of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) would not stand up to the strain. When his right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) spoke at the beginning of the Third Reading he said that the Opposition had not made up their minds how they would vote; they would wait to hear what I had to say and would judge on that whether to vote against the Third Reading. The hon. Gentleman could not stand the strain. I still hope, after what was said by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), that we may get them to change their minds over the next half hour or so. [HON. MEMBERS: "A quarter of an hour."] I am prepared to settle for five and twenty minutes.

At the end of the Third Reading of the Bill, which has had a very long journey, one ought to pay tribute to the way in which the Standing Committee worked and to what was done on Report. Although the Committee went through sixteen long sittings and dealt with many controversial points, it did so with a good humour that was a tribute to the Parliamentary system. It was gratifying, when we came to the Third Reading, to find that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were prepared to pay similar tributes.

I was delighted to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye). The first half of his speech showed him to be quite gratified at what we have done. It was very much in keeping with the public-house sign I saw when I went to visit the British Sugar Corporation in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. That was "The Happy Farmer." He reflected that in a much greater measure on Third Reading than he did in the Committee. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not object if I say that the next door pub is known as "The Honest Lawyer." If one is correct it is possible that the other is too.

Mr. Dye

Both of them are in King's Lynn, and not in my constituency.

Mr. Nicholls

They are near enough for the hon. Gentleman to share their pleasures.

I ought to pay tribute also to hon. Members on our side of the House who sat through Committee stage. Those of us who know the problems and workings of the business of this House are aware that one of the hardest and most unsatisfying jobs is to sit through a Committee stage and listen to lots of criticism from the Opposition benches but remain quiet, because we know that that is the way to assist the progress of business. [Laughter.] We all know that, and there is no need for us to be two-faced about it on the occasion. I should like to thank my hon. Friends for the tolerance and patience they have shown. I think it is fair to admit that when they did on rare occasions make their contributions they were well worthy of attention.

I think that I ought to put another matter right. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham in speaking on the Third Reading, suggested that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary at the Scottish Office was not in attendance in the Committee. While it was perfectly true that my hon. Friend had to help support two other Committees on the corridor, he only missed one meeting of the Committee. I am sure that when we realise what the true position was, we should like to offer our thanks to him.

On the general question, there has been, as has been said, a vital clash of principles. It was because hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted to have something akin to nationalisation or, at any rate, to maintain more central control of this industry and commodity, that they spent so much time and put down so many Amendments in order to try to get that point of view established. That was the principle in which they believed, and they supported it with all the vigour they could produce during the Committee stage.

We, on the other hand, believe in the greater freedom which will flow from the Bill. We believe that whoever ought to be handling the purchase of sugar, it ought not to be a Government Department. We feel that the Board, which will be a very, very good substitute, must be a superior body to handle these affairs rather than that they should remain in the hands of a Department having all the problems which go with the running of a Government.

That is why there was that great difference. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North and his friends truly believed that centralised control should continue. We did not. I am afraid that the difference of viewpoint on that great principle went much further than Clause 1, which it was thought would be the Clause which would draw all the fire on that particular subject.

The hon. Gentleman would, I am sure, want to recognise that we tried hard on points covering mere technicalities to meet him and his hon. Friends. Indeed, during the whole Committee stage, when we saw their Amendments on the Paper, and where the actual words of their Amendments did not, we thought, quite meet the technicality being raised, rather than wait for the Report stage we did put forward words which would meet the points raised or words which could be accepted and be incorporated in the Bill. I am told that that has not happened very often, whichever party has been the Government. We felt that once the principle had been settled or, at any rate, once we had agreed to differ on the vital principle behind the Bill, on technicalities that was a good way of getting this legislation in a form which would be acceptable to both sides of the House.

We were asked on many occasions by the right hon Member for Rochester and Chatham why we would not say we would look at something again, why we would not promise to look at the words and bring forward some alternative. I tried to explain that we did not want to use those words lightly; we did not want to say that we would look at something again merely in order to buy time in the Committee. When we promised to look again at a point which had been raised, we meant to look at it and try hard to put it into words to deal with it.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to admit we have done that. The nine Amendments which we have had on the Paper and dealt with on Report were in fulfilment of the promise which we made to look at certain points again.

Mr. Willey

The Parliamentary Secretary could claim more credit than that, because he has put down two Amendments on points of mine which he persuaded his hon. Friends to vote against in Standing Committee. I do not criticise him now because we have had the benefit of them, but I think he should point that out. He is reflecting, it seems to me, upon the time which we spent in Committee. We should have saved a lot of time if, in those two instances, the Parliamentary Secretary had indicated that the Government would look at the matter again.

Mr. Nicholls

It reflects our generosity; not only did we look at the matter again where we said we would, but we did more; we considered it again after we had concluded the Committee stage. We were under no obligation to do so, but we did. I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) recognises that on Report we have met Members opposite on many points on which I do not think they expected us to do so.

The first of the points raised on Third Reading was that of profit making. We have had some very critical remarks about the supposedly excessive profits, but I think that it will be understood—certainly by those who sat through the various stages of the Bill—that the profit margin allowed to the refiners is rigidly laid down. It is a margin settled after consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if, after the consultation, the Chancellor does not agree, the matter comes back to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who can himself decide what the margin shall be. I therefore do not think that we can talk in terms of any excessive profits. The margin has to go through a pretty rigid test before it is allowed to be put into operation.

On the subject of making profits, the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham said that one could only make big profits—I think he said "become a millionaire"—either by depressing wages or by charging too much. I do not think—as my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) reminded him—that that bears examination when one looks at the many examples that exist in this country. One cannot make a profit unless one is providing something which the people want at a price which they can pay. If they do not want it, they will not have it. If they want it but have to pay too much for it, they will not buy it. One must provide what the people want at a price that they can pay. Only when one does that does one's profit reflect the satisfaction which one brings. I therefore think that the charges of excessive profit-making do not bear further examination.

The next reference was to the composition of the Board, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman rather left the impression that the Board, because it has not—he said—many functions to carry on, would be mainly part-time. He may not have meant that but his words might have left that impression, so it should be made perfectly clear that the Board will consist partly of full-time and partly of part-time members—and we have made it clear all along that, in the opening stages at least, the chairman would be full-time.

Mr. Bottomley

The impression which the Joint Parliamentary Secretary conveyed to many of us in Committee was that it was to be mainly a part-time Board, and the emphasis has now been put on a whole-time chairman. If the hon. Gentleman can give an assurance that there will be more full-time members I shall be more satisfied.

Mr. Nicholls

I refer to the point because the right hon. Gentleman left an impression—I am sure not intentionally—that did not truly reflect the facts. As I say, the chairman of the Board, certainly at the beginning, will be full-time.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Does that mean that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that there will be sufficient accountancy work to occupy him?

Mr. Nicholls

We visualise, without any doubts, that certainly in the initial stages—while the new machine is being put into gear the chairman will be whole-time.

The next question is, who should be on the Board? We have had suggestions reflecting different points of view. First, it was suggested that there should be on the Board people representative of the Commonwealth sugar producers. Then it was suggested that we should have people representing the sugar beet growers; then that we should have someone on the Board who really understood the workings of the Sugar Corporation. The final suggestion was that there should be on the Board a direct sectional representative known as the consumer representative.

We should make clear our intention. We do not want sectional representation on the Board. We do not want delegates representing the many interests involved in the growing of sugar and the turning of it into the refined commodity. We want people with business experience, with an understanding of the markets; people who understand the workings of freight and insurance, etc. We felt that to have sectional-interest representatives would be to create more problems, and that ultimately we should not have had a Board—

Mr. Bottomley

In considering the businessmen representatives on the Board, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the Co-operative movement, as such, should provide one, having in mind its great business interests and experience?

Mr. Nicholls

It was suggested that the Co-operatives should be there representing the consumers, but I do not feel that we ought to have anyone there as a delegate, as a sectional representative. There should be people representing the real business interests that will be involved.

We shall have to pay a good deal of attention to the consumer. Whatever interests are or are not represented on this Board, there is no doubt that the consumer representative will be there. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends would have been perfectly satisfied that whatever interests may not be represented on the Board, the consumer representative will be there.

Another point which has been stressed from the Opposition benches is that the effect of this Bill will be to increase the price of sugar to the consumer. It has been suggested that the machinery which will grow out of this Bill will result in the consumer paying more over the counter. I must repeat the point that has been emphasised time and again in Committee: no difference will be made to the price of sugar to the consumer. At the moment, the purchasing is done by my right hon. Friend and his Department, and they, according to the cost that they have to pay, average out what the price of sugar will be to the consumer. Alongside the Customs and Excise officers, this averaging will be done by the Board by means of the surcharge instead of being carried out by the Department, but it will make no difference at all to the price paid by the consumer. The price will be just the same.

Mr. Willey

Could the hon. Gentleman say that there will not be an increase in the price of sugar say, for the next twelve months?

Mr. Nicholls

What I am saying is that so far as the price is concerned, it will make no difference at all whether we continue to do it through the Department striking an average, or whether we make use of the new machinery which will be set up as a consequence of the Bill. That ought to be made clear, because the speeches of the hon. Member for Sunderland, North on many occasions have left a completely different impression.

The right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham asked the specific question, what would be the result of the extra cost on sugar arising out of the Price Review. It is true that if that involved a large amount of extra money that could put up the price of sugar in the end, but that would be no different from what the price would be if we carried on as we are doing now; and I would say at once that we do not envisage that it will do so in this instance. If the cost of sugar beet, arising from the Price Review, had gone up very much higher, it would have shown itself at the end of the day. That is not likely to happen.

The right hon. Gentleman asked whether or not the Price Review result could affect the price of sugar. It could, but it will not. The important point so far as this legislation is concerned is that it makes no difference at all whether the Department or this machine is deciding the matter. It would have precisely the same result.

The other point to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was the question of current marketing agreements. I can give him satisfaction on one point. He complained that he had not had an opportunity of seeing what was in the current marketing agreements because they had not been available. I can tell him that the information has been available from 1953. It has been in the Library of the House. I know that that is one good reason why he should abstain from voting against the Bill, for that is the point upon which he wanted satisfaction. The new agreements will be made available soon, as indeed his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North stated when he was making his final speech.

There is one matter with which I should deal by reading a paragraph to the House, because it answers the criticism which has been made that the British Sugar Corporation is not allowed to sell cube sugar, that it has been inhibited in some way from entering into the sugar market. That is not true and perhaps if I read this paragraph it will make the position perfectly clear: Tate and Lyle undertake so long as the Corporation's present policy of not manufacturing cube sugar shall continue to sell to the Corporation such quantities of cube sugar as the Corporation shall require and to deliver the same to such places as shall be agreed between the contracting parties at prices which will enable the Corporation to market cube sugar upon terms equivalent to those upon which Tate and Lyle may be marketing cube sugar at the material time. The right hon. Gentleman will see that there are two points arising out of that which really answer his questions. The first is that, under the present arrangements, where the Corporation's own policy is not to manufacture cube sugar, it is certainly at no disadvantage as compared with Tate and Lyle. The undertaking is that the Corporation shall be put in possession of cube sugar from Tate and Lyle which will leave it in precisely the same position as that company when it comes to market.

Mr. Willey

That is only a reference to the present policy of the British Sugar Corporation. Can the Joint Parliamentary Secretary say that there are no understandings apart from this agreement?

Mr. Nicholls

I was coming to that point.

I was saying that the Corporation's present policy is that of not manufacturing cube sugar. It is clear that if the Corporation wanted to change its policy, it could manufacture its own cube sugar, and I should have said, reading this paragraph, that the fact that the British Sugar Corporation has not changed its policy so far and, so far as I know, has not given any indication that it will do so, is because it is finding that the arrangement under the paragraph which I have read is satisfactory to it.

Mr. Willey

The point which I put to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary was whether he could say quite categorically that there are no understandings apart from the agreement to which he has referred.

Mr. Nicholls

I can give a clear assurance that I know of no hidden agreement that would in any way prevent the British Sugar Corporation from altering its policy if it so desired.

The Commonwealth Agreement has again come under violent attack.

Mr. Dye


Mr. Nicholls

The results that can flow from the working of the present Agreement have come under violent attack from the benches opposite. It has been very interesting that from the beginning right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to give the impression that the interests of the Commonwealth are safe only when they have charge of the Government of this country. They have tried to suggest that Commonwealth agreements are not as safe under the control of this Government as they are under their Government. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Quite apart from the words which have been used, it is quite clear that we intend to support and go on supporting this Agreement because every time it has been reviewed we have extended the period of the Agreement by an extra year.

These actions speak much louder than the words used by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. They have said the sort of thing that they would do and made promises about putting into effect certain things, but during the last four years we have extended the period of that Agreement by a year every time we have met. That has been very well recognised by the Commonwealth. That is why the Secretary of State for the Colonies was able to attend the Standing Committee and assure the Committee that the Commonwealth had raised no points on this Bill, had shown no apprehensions and had recognised that if we kept to the terms of the Bill as put in before us there would not be any problems so far as the Commonwealth is concerned.

We had the suggestion at one stage that the British Sugar Corporation was also receiving scurvy treatment as a result of the Bill. I think that it is generally accepted now, certainly by those who have followed the proceedings so far, that the British Sugar Corporation's position will be exactly the same under the Bill as it was before. We have placed on record our recognition of the improvement which has been brought about over the last ten to fifteen years, and the great efficiency of the Corporation as it exists today. It was certainly not our intention, and it is not the intention as reflected in the Bill, in any way to weaken the position.

When we were talking about the composition of the Board, the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) said that he hoped that it would reach a high standard, that it would be of the highest possible repute, and that it would consist of men of the highest possible ability and honesty. I can assure him that unless its members have those qualifications, we are not likely to accept them. We are well satisfied that we shall have available men with the reputation, ability and general standing who will really do justice to the work which we shall place upon them. It ought to be remembered that the Board will be composed only after consultation with the chairman, who will, of course, be appointed first.

Having dealt with the specific points raised during the debate, I think it is as well for us to remember in the last words what the primary objectives of the Bill are.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Famous last words.

Mr. Nicholls

The hon. and learned Gentleman was with us for only a short time at the beginning of the debate, and I listened with great interest to what he had to say, and paid a tribute to him after he had said it. I think he ought now to let me reiterate the primary objectives of the Bill.

The primary objectives are to restore private trading in sugar, to maintain the Government's obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and to continue the obligations that we had under the 1947 Act towards the beet growers. These objectives are interdependent in that the extent of the restoration of private trading is limited only by our commitments to the Commonwealth and the 1947 Act. That is as far as we go.

The method that we have chosen is to set up the Sugar Board, consisting of a chairman and a number of members not exceeding four. It is this machine that we think will be able to give effect to all the ideas that we have placed upon the records during the various stages of the Bill. We are perfectly satisfied that as a result of all of this we shall find that the marketing of sugar and dealing with sugar from its purchase in the Colonies or its development through our own factories and Corporation will be carried out more efficiently. We believe it to be better to put it in the hands of this Board of independent people rather than submit it to all the bureaucracy which is inherent in any Government Department.

If the Third Reading is unopposed, we shall feel so much the happier. Even if we have to obtain the Bill by means of our majority in the Lobby, we are satisfied that the ultimate results will justify our efforts in preparing the Bill and persuading the House to accept it.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 156.

Division No. 132.] AYES [7.24 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Irving, S. (Dartford)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Deer, G. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Delargy, H. J. Jeger, George (Goole)
Anderson, Frank Dodds, N. N. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Awbery, S. S. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Jones, David (The Hartlepools)
Bacon, Miss Alice Dye, S. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Bartley, P. Edelman, M. Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Benson, G. Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Blyton, W. R. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Kenyon, C.
Boardman, H. Evans, Albert (Islington S.W.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) King, Dr. H. M.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Fernyhough, E. Lawson, G. M.
Boyd, T. C. Finch, H. J. Ledger, R. J.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Fletcher, Eric Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Brockway, A. F. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lewis, Arthur
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Gibson, C. W. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Gooch, E. G. Logan, D. G.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Greenwood, Anthony Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Burke, W. A. Grey, C. F. MacColl, J. E.
Burton, Miss F. E. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G.
Callaghan, L. J. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) McGovern, J.
Carmichael, J. Hastings, S. McInnes, J.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hayman, F. H. McLeavy, Frank
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hobson, C. R. Mahon, Simon
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Houghton, Douglas Mann, Mrs. Jean
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Mayhew, C. P.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Mellish, R. J.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hunter, A. E. Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Mitchison, G. R.
Moody, A. S. Rhodes, H. Watkins, T. E.
Moss, R. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Oliver, G. H. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Oswald, T. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) West, D. G.
Owen, W. J. Ross, William Wheeldon, W. E.
Padley, W. E. Short, E. W. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Paget, R. T. Shurmer, P. L. E. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Wilkins, W. A.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Skeffington, A. M. Willey, Frederick
Palmer, A. M. F. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Williams, David (Neath)
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Sparks, J. A. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Parker, J. Steele, T. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Paton, J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Pearson, A. Stones, W. (Consett) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Peart, T. F. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.) Winterbottom, Richard
Popplewell, E. Swingler, S. T. Woof, R. E.
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Sylvester, G. O. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Proctor, W. T. Taylor, John (West Lothian) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Randall, H. E. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Rankin, John Turner-Samuels, M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Redhead, E. C. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Mr. Holmes and Mr. J. T. Price.
Reeves, J. Warbey, W. N.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Garner-Evans, E. H. Legge-Bourge, Maj. E. A. H.
Aitken, W. T. George, J. C. (Pollok) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Alport, C. J. M. Gibson-Watt, D. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Glover, D. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Armstrong, C. W. Godber, J. B. Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Atkins, H. E. Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Linstead, Sir H. N.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Gower, H. R. Llewellyn, D. T.
Baldwin, A. E. Grant, W. (Woodside) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Balniel, Lord Green, A. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Banks, Col. C. Gresham Cooke, R. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Barber, Anthony Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Macdonald, Sir Peter
Barlow, Sir John Gurden, Harold McKibbin, A. J.
Barter, John Hall, John (Wycombe) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Harris, Reader (Heston) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Madden, Martin
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Harvie-Watt, Sir George Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Bidgood, J. C. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Bishop, F. P. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Markham, Major Sir Frank
Body, R. F. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marshall, Douglas
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hirst, Geoffrey Mathew, R.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Holland-Martin, C. J. Mawby, R. L.
Bryan, P. Holt, A. F. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hope, Lord John Medlicott, Sir Frank
Burden, F. F. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Moore, Sir Thomas
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden) Horobin, Sir Ian Nabarro, G. D. N.
Carr, Robert Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Neave, Airey
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nicholls, Harmar
Cole, Norman Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hulbert, Sir Norman Nield, Basil (Chester)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hunt, A. R. Nugent, G. R. H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Oakshott, H. D.
Crouch, R. F. Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Cunningham, Knox Hyde, Montgomery Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Currie, G. B. H. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Osborne, C.
Dance, J. C. G. Iremonger, T. L. Page, R. G.
Davidson, Viscountess Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Partridge, E.
Deedes, W. F. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Doughty, C. J. A. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Pitman, I. J.
Drayson, G. B. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Pitt, Miss E. M.
du Cann, E. D. L. Joseph, Sir Keith Pott, H. P.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Powell, J. Enoch
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Kaberry, D. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Duthie, W. S. Keegan, D. Profumo, J. D.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Kerr, H. W. Raikes, Sir Victor
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Kershaw, J. A. Rawlinson, Peter
Errington, Sir Eric Kirk, P. M. Redmayne, M,
Fell, A. Lagden, G. W. Rippon, A. G. F.
Finlay, Graeme Lambert, Hon. G. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Fisher, Nigel Lambton, Viscount Roper, Sir Harold
Foster, John Lancaster, Col. C. G. Russell, R. S.
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Leavey, J. A. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Freeth, D. K. Leburn, W. G. Sharples, R. C.
Shepherd, William Thompson, Lt.-Cdr.R.(Croydon, S.) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Soames, Capt. C. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.) Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Touche, Sir Gordon Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.) Vane, W. M. F. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Storey, S. Vickers, Miss J. H. Wood, Hon. R.
Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Vosper, D. F. Woollam, John Victor
Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Wall, Major Patrick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester) Mr. Studholme and
Colonel J. H. Harrison.
Division No. 133.] AYES [9.44 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Nicholls, Harmar
Aitken, W. T. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Alport, C. J. M. Gurden, Harold Nicolson, N. (B'n'mth, E. & Chr'ch)
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat(Tiverton) Hall, John (Wycombe) Nield, Basil (Chester)
Armstrong, C. W. Harris, Reader (Heston) Nugent, C. R. H.
Atkins, H. E. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Oakshott, H. D.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Baldwin, A. E. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Banks, Col. C. Harvie-Watt, Sir George Osborne, C.
Barber, Anthony Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Page, R. G.
Barlow, Sir John Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Barter, John Hirst, Geoffrey Partridge, E.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Holland-Martin, C. J. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Hope, Lord John Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Pitman, I. J.
Bidgood, J. C. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Pitt, Miss E. M.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Pott, H. P.
Bishop, F. P. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Powell, J. Enoch
Body, R. F. Hurd, A. R. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Profumo, J. D.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Raikes, Sir Victor
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Hyde, Montgomery Redmayne, M.
Bryan, P. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Rippon, A. G. F.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Iremonger, T. L. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Burden, F. F. A. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Robertson, Sir David
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Carr, Robert Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Roper, Sir Harold
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Russell, R. S.
Cole, Norman Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Sharples, R. C.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Joseph, Sir Keith Shepherd, William
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Kaberry, D. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Keegan, D. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Crouch, R. F. Kerr, H. W. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Cunningham, Knox Kershaw, J. A. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Currie, G. B. H. Kirk, P. M. Storey, S.
Dance, J. C. G. Lagden, G. W. Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Davidson, Viscountess Lambert, Hon. G. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lancaster, Col. C. G. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Deedes, W. F. Leavey, J. A. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Leburn, W. G. Thompson, Lt.-Com. R. (Croydon, S.)
Doughty, C. J. A. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Drayson, G. B. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
du Cann, E. D. L. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Touche, Sir Gordon
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Linstead, Sir H. N. Vane, W. M. F.
Duthie, W. S. Llewellyn, D. T. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Vickers, Miss J. H.
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Vosper, D. F.
Errington, Sir Eric Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Fell, A. Macdonald, Sir Peter Wall, Major Patrick
Finlay, Graeme McKibbin, A. J. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Fisher, Nigel Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Foster, John Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Maddan, Martin Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Freeth, D. K. Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
George, J. C. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Gibson-Watt, D. Markham, Major Sir Frank Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Glover, D. Marlowe, A. A. H. Wood, Hon. R.
Godber, J. B. Marshall, Douglas Woollam, John Victor
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Mathew, R. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gower, H. R. Mawby, R. L.
Graham, Sir Fergus Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grant, W. (Woodside) Medlicott, Sir Frank Mr. Studholme and
Green, A. Nabarro, G. D. N. Mr. E. Wakefield.
Gresham, Cooke R. Neave, Airey
Ainsley, J. W. Boardman, H. Burton, Miss F. E.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Carmichael, J.
Anderson, Frank Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Awbery, S. S. Brockway, A. F. Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)
Bacon, Miss Alice Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)
Bartley, P. Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Benson, G. Brown, Thomas (Ince) Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Blyton, W. R. Burke, W. A. Cullen, Mrs. A.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Johnson, James (Rugby) Randall, H. E.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Rankin, John
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Redhead, Edward Charles
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Rhodes, H.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Deer, G. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Delargy, H. J. Kenyon, C. Ross, William
Dodds, N. N. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Short, E. W.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) King, Dr. H. M. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Dye, S. Lawson, G. M. Skeffington, A. M.
Edelman, M. Ledger, R. J. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Sparks, J. A.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Lewis, Arthur Steele, T.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Edwards, W. J. (Stephney) Logan, D. G. Stones, W. (Consett)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mabon, Dr. J. D. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) MacColl, J. E. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Fernyhough, E. McGhee, H. G. Swingler, S. T.
Finch, H. J. McGovern, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Fletcher, Eric Mclnnes, J. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McLeavy, Frank Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Gibson, C. W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Turner-Samuels, M.
Gooch, E. G. Mahon, S. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. Jean Warbey, W. N.
Griffiths, David (Bother Valley) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Watkins, T. E.
Hale, Leslie Mayhew, C. P. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hannan, W. Mikardo, Ian Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Mitchison, G. R. West, D. G.
Hastings, S. Moody, A. S. Wheeldon, W. E.
Hayman, F. H. Moss, R. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Moyle, A. Wilkins, W. A.
Hobson, C. R. Oliver, G. H. Willey, Frederick
Holmes, Horace Owen, W. J. Williams, David (Neath)
Holt, A. F. Padley, W. E. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Houghton, Douglas Paling, Rt. Hn. W. (Dearne Valley) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Howell, Denis (All Saints) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Parker, J. Winterbottom, Richard
Hunter, A. E. Paton, J. Woof, R. E.
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Peart, T. F. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Irving, S. (Dartford) Popplewell, E. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jeger, George (Goole) Proctor, W. T. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.