HC Deb 01 May 1956 vol 552 cc303-29
Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)

I beg to move, in page 7, line 7, to leave out from the second "the" to "to" in line 8, and to insert: responsible persons as hereinafter provided shall furnish the following particulars.

The Deputy - Chairman (Major Anstruther-Gray)

I think it would be to the convenience of the Committee to take with this Amendment the Amendment in line 10, after "Act," insert "by the parties thereto," and in line 36, line 42, at end insert the proposed new subsection (5).

Mr. Wade

I agree that it would be convenient to take those Amendments together, Major Anstruther-Gray.

The effect of the first of these Amendments would be that the first words in Clause 8 would read: Within the period specified in this section the responsible persons as hereinafter provided shall furnish the following particulars. By virtue of the proposed new subsection (5), it would be clear that it would be the duty of all parties to an agreement to ensure that particulars required to be furnished were furnished, and furthermore where a trade association was responsible for an agreement there would be a duty upon the trade association to furnish particulars to the registrar.

It may be, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has pointed out, that there is an implied obligation on the parties to an agreement to register by virtue of the fact that there is a penalty if they fail to do so, but it would certainly improve this Clause if it were made clear that there was a duty to register and that it was the duty of the parties to an agreement to ensure that the agreement was registered. I feel sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) will support me, having regard to the views that she expressed in the debate on the last Clause.

I do not think I need press the Amendment any further, but I ask the President of the Board of Trade to give an assurance that he will either accept the two Amendments in my name, or alternatively that he will introduce some wording before the Report stage to make it quite clear that there is a responsibility on the parties to an agreement to register the agreement. It does not follow that each party should have to register one by one. So long as the agreement is registered, the need is satisfied. It should be made clear that the parties to the agreement are the persons who are called upon to register the agreement.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I hope that my rising at this moment does not cut across any of the discussion. It is, of course, really the parties to the agreement who have to register the agreement. That is the answer. I am as anxious as the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) and the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) to see that the Bill does that, but—and I think I carry the Committee with me in this—not that all the parties should do it. I am sure it was not in anybody's mind that everybody would have to go through the physical act of doing it. That would clearly flood the Registrar with paper. Each one has the obligation which is discharged if any one of them carries it out.

The next point that was raised related to the question of the association. Of course, the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West is on a perfectly good point, and that point must be properly covered. There is an Amendment which the Government have tabled to Clause 11, page 10, line 31, to add a new subsection (4) which I think covers this point.

If I may explain the position to the hon. Gentleman, the association could be caught up in one of two ways. If the association makes the agreement, it is the party to the agreement. In that case, the obligation is upon the association to register. If it does not make an agreement in that sense it is not a party, and so there is nothing for it to register at all. But it might be brought in another way. It might be issuing recommendations, in which case once again there would be an obligation to register. I think that is right and proper.

Therefore, I am in entire sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says. I accept his point. But I do not think the wording which he uses in the Amendment is very happy, if I may say so. The phrase Where any Association as aforesaid is in any way responsible for an agreement is not a very happy one, and I think it would be better dealt with on the basis of the Amendment which we shall be moving to Clause 11 and which we shall discuss in detail when we come to it.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

As the President of the Board of Trade appreciates, we are in complete agreement with the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) and we are very much relieved to hear what the President of the Board of Trade has just said.

There is just one matter about which I feel some difficulty, and that is his reference to his Amendment to Clause 11, page 10, line 31. I presume that he means that he will bring in an Amendment on the lines of that Clause so far as the association is concerned. But, of course, in that Amendment it is envisaged that there should be a notice by the Registrar to the association before the association is brought within its ambit at all. Of course, if that were done within the Amendment which he contemplates introducing in place of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, then quite possibly it would defeat the whole purpose of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment. I take it, therefore, that he does not contemplate that.

As I understand, he contemplates, first, that all parties to an agreement should be under an obligation to register particulars, but that that obligation should be satistied if any one of them registers; secondly, that where there are recommendations or matters of that kind by a trade association, there should be a similar obligation upon a trade association without any notice having been served upon it first by the Registrar.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I think that that is right; they are in the same position as an ordinary party to an arrangement of this kind.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Wade

Did I understand the President of the Board of Trade to say that he would introduce some appropriate words to cover the first of my Amendments as well as the one which deals with trade associations and the duty of furnishing particulars? It is the way in which the first Clause is worded about which I am not entirely happy, where it merely suggests that certain particulars shall be given. It does not state who shall furnish them.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The difficulty about the first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) is this—though I know it is not what he intends—that it has the effect of making it obligatory for each party to register the agreement. I am sure that that is not what he has in mind. I believe that if he will leave it with a combination of the Clause as it stands, and this later Amendment to Clause 11, his point will be met.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I have been looking at this Clause, and, if I may say so with respect, I think we ought to be very careful about amending really for the sake of amending. It has been said that there is no obligation on anybody to register an agreement. It may be that it comes later in the Clause, but, really, this Clause is quite clear about that.

What the Clause sets out to do is to say that particulars are to be furnished for registration. It is true that in subsection (1) it does not say who shall register, but it is equally true that subsection (5) makes it clear, and, indeed, mandatory, by providing that if there should be any default in the furnishing of the particulars required under this Clause then the Registrar may—it is quite right that it should be "may", because there may well be cases where it ought not to be compulsory—serve notice upon any person within the United Kingdom who is a party.

That is a great improvement upon this Amendment because it is selective in this respect. There is no sense in serving notice upon everybody; that would be a work of supererogation; but the point is that the service of the notice is an essential and effective step, and, once that is done, that is all that is necessary to be done. We have in the Clause who are the parties to an existing agreement, and then the subsection goes on: (or, in the case of default in furnishing particulars of the determination of an agreement, any person within the United Kingdom who was party thereto immediately before its determination) … It is a closely worded provision, and it protects the position in all respects, so far as I can see. The Registrar can call upon that essential person to make good his default in not registering within fourteen days.

I have looked at the provision which brings in the High Court. If necessary, the Registrar can move the High Court by way of application, and the High Court can make an order directing a person to make good his default or authorise the Registrar to treat as particulars duly furnished to him any document or information he has relating to the agreement. It seems to me, therefore, that that is fairly comprehensive. Whilst there is, of course, great scope for amendment in this Bill, nevertheless I do not think that it is right to amend something which, on this particular point, does not really need amendment. I would ask the President to look at this provision to see whether it is not all-sufficient in its own wording as now drafted.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I want to make one small contribution on a point which has not been touched upon during the brief debate on this Amendment. The President has been good enough to criti cise the wording of the Amendment, suggesting that it is unhappy. I would like to draw his attention to the fact that the wording of the Clause is unsatisfactory and unhappy, for the reason that it is not in direct language. The passive voice rather than the active voice is used.

I cannot for the life of me see why the Clause could not have been drawn in such a way as to put a duty more clearly upon the shoulders of the parties to an agreement. Why could it not have been drafted like this: "The parties to any such agreement or one of them must furnish particulars"? Why could not that have been used instead of saying, the following particulars shall be furnished to the Registrar"? Why could it not have been put in the direct form—"The parties to an agreement or one of them or their nominee shall be under a duty to furnish to the Registrar the particulars"?

I am glad that the President takes the view that it is necessary to indicate who is to furnish the particulars. The Clause as it stands is defective, because it does not indicate the person who is to furnish the particulars. The Amendment inserts the words "by the parties". If my suggestion were adopted it would read "the parties to an agreement … shall be under a duty to furnish to the Registrar the particulars …"

Similar reasoning applies to the second Amendment. In subsection (4) we find the words "shall be furnished"; again, it is in the passive voice and not the active voice. It is much too vague. I will not go on with the other line of the rhyme, but a Statute should not be vague; it should be clear and direct.

Mr. Wade

I understand that the Minister intends to introduce appropriate wording on Report amending the Clause to cover this point. If that were so, I should withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I do not want there to be any misunderstanding, because if he is not satisfied the hon. Member should press his Amendment. As far as the parties are concerned, I see no need to amend the Clause; I have had powerful reinforcement from the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) for the view that the Clause does what it is intended to do—places an obligation on all parties to register, but ensures that the obligation is carried out if one of them does so.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

There is some misunderstanding for which neither of us is to blame. I understood that the President would introduce an Amendment to the Clause to make it perfectly clear that it covered parties and associations in the sense that I put to him. The whole point of my getting to my feet was that I should be satisfied that his proposed Amendment would cover precisely the point I had put.

Mr. Thorneycroft

There is no difference between us on what we wish to do. We want the parties to have an obligation discharged if one of them fulfils it. In the case of an association, whether it is party to an agreement or whether it is impliedly a party, we want it to register in the same way. I am sure that the Clause as it stands, with the further Amendment to Clause 11, page 11, line 31, carries that out, and I will give an undertaking that the policy on which I think we are all agreed will be carried out.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

There is only the question—a very important question

—of the interpretation of the Clause and, of course, not merely the interpretation but the clarity of the Clause. Very considerable arguments have been put forward about this. We could have saved a great deal of time if the President had simply said that he would introduce an Amendment to clarify his intention on the Clause, I must say that the Clause seems unsatisfactory and I hope that the matter will be pressed.

Mr. Thorneycroft

If I have any way of clarifying the question I will be happy to do so, but it would be wrong to give an undertaking and, on the arguments addressed to me, I cannot see that it would be made clearer than it is at present. I am glad to have the support of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester.

The Temporary Chairman

Do I understand that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) wishes to withdraw the Amendment?

Mr. Wade

I do not want to be awkward about it, but I am not entirely convinced about the matter.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 241, Noes 198.

Division No. 160.] AYES [8.41 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. C. Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Foster, John
Aitken, W. T. Cole, Norman Freeth, D. K.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Cooper-Key, E. M. Gammans, Sir David
Arbuthnot, John Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Garner-Evans, E. H.
Armstrong, C. W. Corfield, Capt. F. V. George, J. C. (Pollok)
Ashton, H. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Gibson-Watt, D.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Glover D.
Baldwin, A. E. Crouch, R. F. Godber, J. B.
Barber, Anthony Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan
Barlow, Sir John Cunningham, Knox Gower, H. R.
Barter, John Currie, G. B. H. Graham, Sir Fergus
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Dance, J. C. G. Grant, W. (Woodside)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Grant-Ferris Wg. Cdr. R. (Nantwich)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Deedes, W. F. Green, A.
Bidgood, J. C. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Gresham Cooke, R.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Doughty, C. J. A. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Drayson, G. B. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Bishop, F. P. du Cann, E. D. L. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Black, C. W. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Gurden, Harold
Body, R. F. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Bossom, Sir A. C. Duthie, W. S. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick&L'm'tn) Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)
Boyle, Sir Edward Eden, J, B. (Bournemouh, West) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Braine, B. R. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Hay, John
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Brooman-White, R. C. Errington, Sir Eric Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Farey-Jones, F. W. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Bullus, Wing Commander, E. E. Fell, A. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Burden, F. F. A. Finlay, Graeme Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden) Fisher, Nigel Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Campbell, Sir David Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Carr, Robert Fletcher-Cooke, C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Cary, Sir Robert Fort, R. Hirst, Geoffrey
Holland-Martin, C. J. Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Hope, Lord John Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Roper, Sir Harold
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Markham, Major Sir Frank Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Marlowe, A. A. H. Russell, R. S.
Howard, John (Test) Marples, A. E. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Marshall, Douglas Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Mathew, R. Shepherd, William
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Maude, Angus Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Mawby, R. L. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Hulbert, Sir Norman Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C. Spearman, A. C. M.
Hurd, A. R. Medlicott, Sir Frank Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Moore, Sir Thomas Stevens, Geoffrey
Iremonger, T. L. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Nabarro, G. D. N. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Nairn, D. L. S. Studholme, H. G.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Neave, Airey Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Johnson, Howard (Kemp town) Nield, Basil (Chester) Teeling, W.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Oakshott, H. D. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Joseph, Sir Keith O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W.D. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)
Kaberry, D. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Keegan, D. Osborne, C. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Page, R. G. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Kerr, H. W. Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Touche, Sir Gordon
Kimball, M. Partridge, E. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Lagden, G. W. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Lambton, Viscount Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Vosper, D. F.
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pitman, I. J. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Leavey, J. A. Pitt, Miss E. M. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Leburn, W. G. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Pott, H. P. Wall, Major Patrick
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Powell, J. Enoch Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Linstead, Sir H.N. Profumo, J, D. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Llewellyn, D. T. Raikes, Sir Victor Webbe, Sir H.
Longden, Gilbert Ramsden, J. E. Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Rawlinson, Peter Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Redmayne, M. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Macdonald, Sir Peter Rees-Davies, W. R. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
McKibbin, A. J. Remnant, Hon. P. Wood, Hon. R.
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Renton, D. L. M. Woollam, John Victor
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Ridsdale, J. E. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Macleod, Rt. Hn.Iain (Enfield, W.) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Madden, Martin Robson-Brown, W. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Mr. Bryan.
Ainsley, J. W. Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Albu, A. H. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hamilton, W. W.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Cronin, J, D. Hannan, W.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Crossman, R. H. S. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cullen, Mrs. A. Hastings S.
Awbery, S. S. Daines, P. Hayman, F. H.
Bacon, Miss Alice Darling, George (Hillsborough) Herbison, Miss M.
Baird, J. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Hobson, C. R.
Balfour, A. Davies, Harold (Leek) Holmes, Horace
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Houghton, Douglas
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Deer, G. Howell, Denis (All Saints)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Delargy, H. J. Hubbard, T. F.
Benson, G. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Dye, S. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Blackburn, F. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Blenkinsop, A. Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Blyton, W. R. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Irving, S. (Dartford)
Boardman, H. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Jeger, Mrs.Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Fienburgh, W. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Brockway, A. F. Fletcher, Eric Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech( Wakefield)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Forman, J. C. Jones, David (The Hartlepools)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Burton, Miss F. E. Gibson, C. W. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Gooch, E. G. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Kenyon, C.
Champion, A. J. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Chapman, W. D. Grey, C. F. King, Dr. H. M.
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, David (Bother Valley) Lawson, G. M.
Clunie, J. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Ledger, R. J.
Coldrick, W. Grimond, J. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Hale, Leslie Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Parker, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Lewis, Arthur Parkin, B. T. Swingler, S. T.
Lindgren, G. S. Paton, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Logan, D. C. Pearson, A. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
MacColl, J. E. Peart, T. F. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
McGhee, H. G. Plummer, Sir Leslie Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
McInnes, J. Popplewell, E. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
McKay, John (Wallsend) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Thornton, E.
McLeavy, Frank Probert, A. R. Timmons, J.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Proctor, W. T. Tomney, F.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Pryde, D. J. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Mahon, Simon Randall, H. E. Usborne, H. C.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Rankin, John Viant, S. P.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Redhead, E. C. Wade, D. W.
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Reeves, J. Watkins, T. E.
Mason, Roy Held, William Weitzman, D.
Mellish, R. J. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Mikardo, Ian Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) West, D. G.
Mitchison, G. R. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wheeldon, W. E.
Moody, A. S. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Ross, William Wilkins, W. A.
Mort, D. L. Royle, C. Willey, Frederick
Moss, R. Short, E. W. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Moyle, A. Shurmer, P. L. E. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Mulley, F. W. Silverman, Julius (Aston) Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Skeffington, A. M. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Oliver, G. H. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Oram, A. E. Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Woof, R. E.
Orbach, M. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Oswald, T. Snow, J. W. Zilliacus, K.
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Sorensen, R. W.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Sparks, J, A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Palmer, A. M. F. Steele, T. Mr. Simmons and Mr. J. T. Price
Pargiter, G. A. Stones, W. (Consett)
Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I beg to move, in page 7, line 44, to leave out from "agreement" to the end of the Clause and to add: the agreement shall be unlawful in respect of the restrictions by virtue of which this part of the Act applies to the agreement and such order may be made as might be made if the said restrictions were restrictions determined to be contrary to the public interest under the provisions hereinafter contained but no criminal proceedings shall lie by reason of the said agreement being hereby made unlawful".

The Temporary Chairman

It might be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time the first Amendment on the next Clause, in the name of the hon. and learned Member, in Clause 9, page 8, line 26. leave out from "thereto" to end of line 28.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

Yes, Major Anstruther-Gray.

The Amendment deals with the position which arises in the event of default in furnishing the particulars for registration. As I understand the Bill, the extraordinary position at the moment is that no consequence or penalty of any kind would follow from failure to register. We have heard a great deal in the last hour or so about the obligation to register and about the intention of the President of the Board of Trade that the obligation to register should be upon the parties to the agreement, and yet the Bill contains no consequence of any kind following failure to fulfil that obligation. Therefore, as I suggested when discussing the last Amendment, to talk about default in registering when there is no sanction to an obligation to register, is nothing short of humbug.

What we propose in the Amendment is that the agreement, if not registered, should be treated as an agreement which has been found by the court to be contrary to the public interest. Subsection (5) provides that If default is made in furnishing particulars … the Registrar may serve notice upon a party to the agreement … requiring him to make good the default … Eventually, the Registrar can make an application to the High Court, which can order the person to furnish the particulars. Before any action whatever can be taken under the Clause, however, the Registrar must find out whether there is an agreement in existence or whether there is reasonable cause for believing that an agreement exists.

Exactly the same provisions arise in Clauses 11 and 12. Various remedies are provided about furnishing particulars if the Registrar has reasonable cause to believe that there is an agreement and if he has got hold of the parties to the agreement. Nothing whatever follows from the consequence of failing to register. In each case, the Registrar somehow or other has to divine that an agreement is in being, then get hold of the parties to the agreement, press them for particulars and then bring them before the Court before there is any effective remedy under the Bill.

If there is an obligation to register, and if the intention is to make that obligation effective, why on earth should an agreement which is not registered not be treated as an agreement which is contrary to the public interest? Let us consider a case where a person thinks that he might or might not have an agreement subject to registration. There will be a vast number of agreements where it will be very debatable whether they come within Clause 5 or not and whether they are subject to registration or not.

A party to the agreement may say with the greatest good will and honesty in the world, "I am doubtful about this and therefore I shall not register." The Registrar will have to find out before he can do anything about it There is no obligation to say to the Registrar, "I am doubtful whether the agreement is within the Bill or not. What about it?"

The Bill gives a very big loophole to the less scrupulous people and gives a big impetus to those who are scrupulous but who honestly believe that there is a doubt whether they ought to register under the Bill. It is up to the Registrar to find out about the agreements and take the rather long drawn out course which is open to him under other provisions of the Bill.

Clause 10 provides for rectification of the register so that if a person thinks he is registered under the Bill when he ought not to be so registered he can go to the High Court and get the register rectified so that his name is crossed out and no longer appears on the register. It is hardly conceivable that under the Bill a person will register when he thinks he may not be subject to registration and then apply to have rectification of the register, whereas if the principle of the Amendment is accepted, he will have scope under Clause 10 to go to the court and say, "This is not an agreement which ought to be registered. Can I have a decision of the Court on it?"

Therefore, the course which he should take in matters of doubt would be to register. By reason of registration, the Registrar will know about the agreement. If he does not register, the agreement should be put in the same position as an agreement which the Restrictive Practices Court has found to be contrary to the public interest. By that method we should have a comprehensive and effective scheme of registration. I completely fail to understand why the Bill stands as it does and why there is no provision in it, as we on this side of the Committee propose, that in a case of non-registration the contract should be treated as one contrary to the public interest.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas), as he has said, was not dealing with the vast majority of cases. Everybody recognises that in the vast majority of cases this problem will not arise. There will be an agreement and it will be registered in the ordinary way. Then there are cases where there will be some doubt or dispute about it and it will be for the parties to consult the Registrar. If there is honest disagreement there is provision in Clause 8 for the Registrar to serve notice and, if necessary, the dispute can be dealt with by the High Court. I believe that everybody will agree that that satisfactorily deals with probably the vast majority of cases.

At the same time, we must not omit the possibility that there might be cases of deliberate failure to register. I am somewhat impressed by the force of the arguments which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East has addressed to the Committee—that there is really no penalty here and no disability for the man who deliberately does not register at all.

9.0 p.m.

I have given some thought to this matter in the light of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment. I think that perhaps his Amendment tends to go a little bit wide. That is to say, I think that if a man does not register it is going rather far to say that an order should be made putting that agreement in the wrong for all time. But I think that he should have a penalty of some kind inflicted upon him in those circumstances.

It may be possible, if the Committee agrees, to consider adding to Clause 8, subsections (5, a) and (5, b) a new paragraph (c) which would have the effect of enabling the registrar, where there had been a deliberate default in registration, to apply for an order under Clause 15, as though the agreement had been found contrary to the public interest, which is really the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.

I think that one should add some facility for the party in those circumstances to apply after a period of, say, two years to have his case considered on its merits, on the ordinary criteria of Clause 16. I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman would think that unreasonable. The party concerned should have some opportunity of coming back and having the case considered on its merits.

In my view, if such a provision were introduced, I think that it would very seldom have to be used and that in the vast majority of cases ordinary registration or ordinary arrangements about notice would apply. But I would not rule out—and I would be happy to consider between now and the Report stage in the light of the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman—the possibility of somewhat strengthening the last subsection of Clause 8 in the manner which I have described.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I am much obliged to the President, but I am sure that he will not quarrel with me when I say that this does not really meet the point that we are making. First, he envisaged, of course, that the parties to the agreement would in the vast majority of cases of difficulty or doubt consult the Registrar. I do not doubt for a moment that there are cases in which that would happen. The difficulty is that there is no obligation at all on those parties to consult the Registrar. So all that would happen in these cases would be that those who are the more scrupulous would consult the Registrar and the less scrupulous would not consult the Registrar. That is just not good legislation.

Then the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the point about putting the agreement in the wrong for all time, and he rather objected to the course that we are suggesting in the Amendment, because he said that it would put the agreement in the wrong for all time without provision for the remedy. I may be quite wrong on this, as the President suggested that I am, but, as I understand the Bill and the operation of this Amendment, the effect of the Amendment would be to put the agreement in exactly the same position as an agreement which had come before the Court and had been condemned as contrary to the public interest, and, therefore, bring automatically into operation the provisions for reviewing the decision at a later stage. I thought that that point had been completely covered by our Amendment, but if not I am completely at one with the right hon. Gentleman in maintaining the principle of it, and I will not spend more time on that.

On the last point which the right hon. Gentleman made when he was good enough to suggest the introduction of a paragraph (c) to subsection (5) dealing with cases of deliberate default, I will tell him—and this is the crux of the matter—why, in my view, I regret that it does not really go far enough. Subsection (5) including a new paragraph (c), would be governed by the opening words: If default is made in furnishing particulars…the Registrar may serve notice upon any person … who is a party to the agreement … and if that person fails to make good the default So, first, we have no consequence, no penalty resulting from failure to register; secondly, we have the position in which the registrar must serve notice upon the party and, therefore, must have found out that the agreement is in existence before any penalty at all arises upon the party; and, thirdly, the party must then fail to make good the default before subsection (3) comes into operation.

Therefore, it does not meet what is really the gravamen of our case on this Amendment, which is that there should be an automatic penalty by reason of failure to register. Whilst I appreciate that the suggestion made by the President of the Board of Trade would be an improvement on the Clause as drafted, it does not really meet the substance of this Amendment.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that that is a fair point to make do not think it would be right to say that failure to register should automatically, and in all cases, render the agreement unlawful. At the same time, it would be reasonable to put it in as a possible order which could be made by the Registrar in the case of deliberate default. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Registrar has to find out. In any case, somebody has to find out. If nobody will ever know about this under any arrangement. it will not matter very much whether it is lawful or unlawful if it has escaped the attention of every one in the country that it is going on. So the hon. and learned Gentleman will not gain much or lose much in practice by requiring the Registrar to take the initiative in a matter of this kind. However, I appreciate that there is a difference in context. I shall still pursue the suggestion which I made, whether the hon. and learned Gentleman presses his Amendment or not, because I think it is right that there should be some strengthening of the latter part of Clause 8, and I am indebted to him for drawing attention to this point.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The President of the Board of Trade is very fair about this, and, if I may say so with respect, it helps the work of the Committee substantially. There is a definite difference of substance between us here. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that under our provision there would not be much practical significance because in any case people would have to find out about it. Of course, there would be practical significance. The practical significance of it would be that the contract would be unenforceable. Many people might join together in a ring as parties to an agreement. It is an entirely different position when they try to enforce it against outside people, or amongst themselves, when some amongst them say, "This is not a legitimate agreement, but I have joined it because I am more or less obliged to do so."

There is a definite question of substance involved here. It is a grave defect in the effectiveness of the Bill, and I cannot ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

I want to support briefly what my hon. and learned Friend has said. We are grateful to the President of the Board of Trade for his willingness to look at the point. He takes the point of view that everyone who ought to register will register or will go along to the Registrar to find out if it is the kind of agreement which should be registered. We say that there will be people who will try to avoid registration. The more likely it is that their agreement would be declared by the Court to be contrary to public interest, the more an unscrupulous person will try to avoid not only registering the agreement but letting the Registrar know about it.

I agree that such persons might be few, but we have heard a lot in recent weeks in the House about the value of deterrents. It is much more likely that those people would hesitate before avoiding their clear duty to register if they knew that subsequent discovery would mean that they would be placed in a less favourable position. If all that happens when they are discovered is that they are then placed on the register, one or two unscrupulous characters might seek that chance of avoiding their duties under the Act, as it will then have become.

While it would be undesirable for even a few people to escape, as may be the case under the Clause as at present drafted, I think it would be grossly unfair to those traders who do the honest and proper thing and register their agreements. I hope, therefore, that the President will pay due regard to what my hon. and learned Friend has said and will see whether the Clause cannot be strengthened along the lines of this Amendment.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 242, Noes 199.

Division No. 161.] AYES [9.10 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Barter, John Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.
Aitken, W. T. Baxter, Sir Beverley Boyle, Sir Edward
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Bell, Philip (Bolton, C.) Braine, B. R.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Arbuthnot, John Bidgood, J. C. Brooman-White, R. C.
Armstrong, C. W. Biggs-Davison, J. A. Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)
Ashton, H. Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Bishop, F. P. Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.
Baldwin, A. E. Black, C. W. Burden, F. F. A.
Barber, Anthony Body, R. F. Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden)
Barlow, Sir John Bossom, Sir A. C. Campbell, Sir David
Carr, Robert Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Page, R. G.
Cary, Sir Robert Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Howard, John (Test) Partridge, E.
Cole, Norman Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Pitman, I. J.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Pitt, Miss E. M.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hulbert, Sir Norman Pott, H. P.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hurd, A. R. Powell, J. Enoch
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Profumo, J. D.
Crouch, R. F. Iremonger, T. L. Raikes, Sir Victor
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ramsden, J. E.
Cunningham, Knox Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Rawlinson, Peter
Currie, G. B. H. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Redmayne, M.
Dance, J. C. G. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Rees-Davies, W. R.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Remnant, Hon. P.
Deedes, W. F. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Renton, D. L. M.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Ridsdale, J. E.
Drayson, G. B. Joseph, Sir Keith Rippon, A. G. F.
du Cann, E. D. L. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Kaberry, D. Robertson, Sir David
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Keegan, D, Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Duthie, W. S. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Robson-Brown, W.
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick & L'm'tn) Kerr, H. W. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Kimball, M. Roper, Sir Harold
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lagden, G. W. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Lambton, Viscount Russell, R. S.
Errington, Sir Eric Lancaster, Col. C. G. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Farey-Jones, F. W. Leavey, J. a. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Fell, A. Leburn, W. G. Shepherd, William
Finlay, Graeme Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Spearman, A. C. M.
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Linstead, Sir N. H. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Fort, R. Llewellyn, D. T. Stanley Capt. Hon. Richard
Foster, John Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Stevens, Geoffrey
Freeth, D. K. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Macdonald, Sir Peter Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Gammans, Sir David McKibbin, A. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Studholme, H. G.
George, J. C. (Pollok) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Gibson-Watt, D. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Glover, D. MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Teeling, W.
Godber, J. B. Maddan, Martin Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Gower, H. R. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)
Graham, Sir Fergus Markham, Major Sir Frank Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Grant, W. (Woodside) Marlowe, A. A. H. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Green, A. Marples, A. E. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Gresham Cooke, R. Marshall, Douglas Touche, Sir Gordon
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Mathew, R. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Maude, Angus Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Mawby, R. L. Vosper, D. F.
Gurden, Harold Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Medlicott, Sir Frank Walker-Smith, D. C.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Wall, Major Patrick
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Moore, Sir Thomas Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Waterhouse, Capt, Rt. Hon. C.
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Nabarro, G. D. N. Webbe, Sir H.
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Nairn, D. L. S. Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Neave, Airey Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Wills, C. (Bridgwater)
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Nield, Basil (Chester) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony Wood, Hon. R.
Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Oakshott, H. D. Woollam, John Victor
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Hirst, Geoffrey Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Holland-Martin, C. J. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hope, Lord John Osborne, C. Mr. Bryan and Mr. E. Wakefield.
Ainsley, J. W. Benson, G. Brown, Thomas (Ince)
Albu, A. H. Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Burton, Miss F. E.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Blackburn, F. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Blenkinsop, A. Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Blyton, W. R. Champion, A. J.
Awbery, S. S. Boardman, H. Chapman, W. D.
Bacon, Miss Alice Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Chetwynd, G. R.
Baird, J. Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Clunie, J.
Balfour, A. Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Coldrick, W.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Brockway, A. F. Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rankin, John
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Redhead, E. C.
Cronin, J. D. Kenyon, C. Reeves, J.
Crossman, R. H. S. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reid, William
Cullen, Mrs. A, King, Dr. H. M. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lawson, G. M. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Ledger, R. J. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Deer, G. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Ross, William
Delargy, H. J. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Royle, C.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W.Brmwoh) Lewis, Arthur Short, E. W.
Dye, S. Lindgren, G. S. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Logan, D. G. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) MacColl, J. E. Skeffington, A. M.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) McGhee, H. G. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McInnes, J. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Edwards, W.J. (Stepney) McKay, John (Wallsend) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McLeavy, Frank Snow, J. W.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Sorensen, R. W.
Fienburgh, W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Sparks, J. A.
Fletcher, Eric Mahon, Simon Steele, T.
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Stones, W. (Consett)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Gibson, C. W. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Gooch, E. G. Mason, Roy Swingler, S. T.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mellish, R. J. Sylvester, G. O.
Greenwood, Anthony Mikardo, Ian Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mitchison, G. R. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Grey, C. F. Monslow, W. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Moody, A. S. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Thornton, E.
Grimond, J. Mort, D. L. Timmons, J.
Hale, Leslie Moss, R. Tomney, F.
Hamilton, W. W. Moyle, A. Turner-Samuels, M.
Hannan, W. Mulley, F. W. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Usborne, H. C.
Hastings, S. Oliver, G. H. Wade, D. W.
Hayman, F. H. Oram, A. E. Watkins, T. E.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Orbach, M. Weitzman, D.
Herbison, Miss M. Oswald, T. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hobson, C. R. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) West, D. G.
Holmes, Horace Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Wheeldon, W. E.
Houghton, Douglas Palmer, A. M. F. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Howell, Denis (All Saints) Pargiter, G. A. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Hubbard, T. F. Parker, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parkin, B. T. Willey, Frederick
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Paton, J. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Peart, T. F. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Plummer, Sir Leslie Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Irving, S. (Dartford) Popplewell, E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Woof, R. E.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St.Pncs, S.) Probert, A. R. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Proctor, W. T. Zilliacus, K.
Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Pryde, D. J.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Randall, H. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendments made: In page 8, line 16, after "Scotland", insert: and Northern Ireland respectively".

In line 17, at the end, add: or the High Court of Northern Ireland".[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. E. Fletcher

In view of the debate that we have just had, nobody on this side of the Committee can feel happy about the Clause as it has been left after the last remarks of the President of the Board of Trade. There was an Amendment, in page 7, line 34, to leave out "may" and to insert "shall", but it was not called. This is another illustration of the unsatisfactory drafting of the Clause and of the apparent lack of determination on the part of the President of the Board of Trade to see that full effect is given to what he always professes is his intention with regard to registration.

I hope that on this point he will give us an assurance that in considering the Amendment he is to put down at the end of subsection (5) by the insertion of another paragraph (c) he will take the opportunity of changing "may" to "shall" in order that there may be no possible doubt it is intended that if there is default in the furnishing of particulars there shall not be discretion on the part of the Registrar whether to take action or not, but that it shall be obligatory upon him, as soon as any default in furnishing particulars comes to his notice, to take the next steps in ensuring that the default is corrected.

There are so many loopholes in the Bill and so many opportunities for procrastination between the initial stages and the final stage at which an undesirable restrictive practice would be prohibited, that we are anxious to stop up the loopholes and to remove the opportunities for delay.

In his reconsideration of Clauses 7 and 8 I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will take heed of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) about them. The Clauses hang together, and if they are to be made to work it is essential that the passive mood in which they are at present couched shall be changed into the active mood in order to lay a specific obligation on the parties to an agreement to take the initiative in registering.

Mrs. Castle

We are still far from satisfied that our objection to Clause 7, which I was told would be satisfied by Clause 8, has beer; met. It is clear from what the President of the Board of Trade has said that he does not stand four-square on the duties of the parties to an agreement to register. In the first place, we were told by the right hon. Gentleman that we must take his word for it that under the Clause the parties must furnish particulars. I do not like to take the President's word for anything if it is contradicted by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester. North-East (Sir L. UngoedThomas).

Leaving that point aside, I still say that one question of great importance remains unanswered. That is the question of when: when does the furnishing of particulars become legally obligatory? I would point out to the President that to furnish information is not the same as to volunteer it. As the wording now stands, the parties to an agreement will surely feel that they are not refusing to furnish particulars if no one asks for them, and this interpretation is borne out by subsection (5) which makes it quite clear that it is not an offence to fail to furnish particulars. The only offence is failure to respond to the request of the registrar to make good the omission.

The President has said that he will strengthen that subsection—we are not quite clear how—but everything will depend on this, because unless the President by his later Amendment penalises the failure to volunteer particulars we shall have the situation which in the debate on Clause 7 I suggested we were in danger of having, namely, the placing of the legal onus to register on the Registrar. As the Clause now stands, the parties to an agreement can, with impunity, fail to furnish particulars until the Registrar discovers that failure and calls on the parties to remedy it. That, of course, is equivalent to putting the initiative for all action in connection with registration in the hands of the Registrar.

Taken in conjunction with Clause 11, we find that the Registrar has to go about unearthing agreements which ought to be but have not been registered. We are left with this, that the whole emphasis of these two Clauses is on the fact that we treat extremely lightly the failure to furnish information. We do not make it legally obligatory to furnish it, but merely make it legally obligatory not to refuse to furnish it when the Registrar has found out that it has not been volunteered. That was my whole complaint on Clause 7, and I am still unsatisfied that the President is with us here or that he intends, in fact, to take the steps he ought to take. For my part, I will be satisfied with nothing less than a later Amendment which will penalise the failure to volunteer information.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I can deal quite shortly with the points which have been raised. First, there is the question of whether the word should be "may" or "shall". I think I have heard longer debates on that matter than on most others. That Amendment was not selected, but its effect, had it been carried, would have been one which I do not think was really intended; namely, to impose on the Registrar a duty to serve a notice on every party to an agreement. I really cannot think that that was intended. It would be almost impossible to carry it out.

The hon. Lacy the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—who, I recognise, holds with absolute sincerity the view that this Clause is neither clear enough nor tough enough—made her points quite clearly, and has elaborated one or two of them again now. "When" is laid down in subsection (4) of this Clause. It will be laid down in the order which the Board of Trade makes. She then said that the Clause should be strengthened. I know that she is not satisfied with what I have said about strengthening it, and that there is an honest difference of opinion between the two sides of the Committee as to what is appropriate to insert with regard to that point. I will not repeat what I said before, but although the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) did not accept my suggestion and pressed his Amendment, I am proposing to go forward with the arrangement which I suggested for putting rather stronger terms in Clause 8 (5).

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I think this Clause is misconceived. I criticised it a little earlier when I pointed out the manner in which it was drafted. The Clause is misconceived because it contains much which should be in regulations. Elsewhere in the Bill the Registrar is given power to make rules and regulations, and many other things which are set out in this Clause are not properly the subject of a Act of Parliament at all. They should come under the power which is given to the Registrar to make regulations. I am not going to weary the Committee by going through this Clause with its six subsections; hon. Members have only to look at it to see that it contains a lot of things that normally are put into rules and regulations and not into an Act.

As to the scheme of the Clause, it is drafted in the passive voice. Take, for example, subsection (1): Within the period specified in this section the following particulars shall be furnished to the Registrar … The Clause as drafted did not even say by whom they should be furnished. The Clause would be much better if it were put in the active voice, with some such words as: The parties to any agreement or their nominees or somebody representing them shall be under an obligation or a duty to furnish to the Registrar such particulars as are set out in rules and regulations to be formulated by him under the power given in the statute. I think those criticisms go to the root of this Clause, and I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will consider the Clause from that angle with a view to shortening and clarifying it and making it a more effective instrument for the purpose for which it is intended.

Mr. Jay

I am a little surprised by what the President of the Board of Trade said about the words "shall" and "may" in subsection (5). He said that if the proposed Amendment, which has not been called, were adopted, then there would be an obligation on the Registrar to serve a notice on every person who is a party to the agreement. I think he will agree that subsection (5) says "any person" and not "every person". If he interprets "any" to mean "every", I agree with him; but that is not what we propose. Would it not be possible to discover some form of drafting which would effectively substitute "shall" for "may" and make "any" mean "anyone" and not "everyone"? It seems to me that if we do not do that, we are in an odd position.

The whole thing, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) has pointed out, is in this grossly passive voice. First of all, we are told that certain agreements are subject to registration. The Bill does not say who is to register. The Bill then says that certain particulars shall be furnished. It does not say who is to furnish them. Then we are told that the safeguard against that is that if there is default in furnishing them something will happen, and then we find that it may happen and not that it will happen.

Even if the position were that it definitely would happen, all that is going to happen is that the persons—if there are some ghostly persons at this stage—will be required to make good the default by furnishing the information. I do not think that can be so terrible. Is it really impossible so to frame this Clause that even when we have got to this stage and there has been this default—and perhaps a deliberate default—there is an obligation on the Registrar definitely to require at least one of the parties to the agreement, all of whom presumably have defaulted, definitely to make good that default?

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.