HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2217-51

3.45 p.m.

Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)

I beg to move, in page 18, line 38, leave out from "reappointment" to the end of subsection (2).

Several Amendments to Clause 22 and Clause 23 are of major importance, but this is a comparatively minor Amendment. The main purpose of the Amendments to Clauses 22 and 23 which my hon. Friends and I have tabled, is to allow the name of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission to be changed to the simpler one of the Monopolies Commission, but to retain the powers of the Commission, at any rate for the time being.

If the President of the Board of Trade were asking only for a change of name, that would not be considered unreasonable. No one wishes to have confusion between the new Restrictive Practices Court and the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission, which, in any case, is generally known as the Monopolies Commission. When we come to questions of resignation and reappointment, if the present proposals were only to enable members who are at present on the Monopolies Commission to be eligible for the new Restrictive Practices Court, we would see no objection to the proposal that they should automatically resign and be eligible for reappointment.

Unfortunately, it is clear that more than that is involved. The general issue of the two Clauses will be raised on a later Amendment, but, at the moment, I must deal only with what is in the second part of Clause 22 (2). The main reason for the Amendment is to ascertain the intention of the President of the Board of Trade. Assuming for the moment that members of the Commission will be called upon to resign and will then be eligible for reappointment, I should have thought that it would have sufficed to have drawn the subsection as our Amendment leaves it. However, the subsection refers to Section 1 (3) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, and there then arises the question whether the period of 12 years, which is the maximum, shall run from the date of reappointment, or from the date of the original appointment.

If it is thought fit that members who resign and are reappointed should be able to serve on the Commission, having already given valuable service, it is not necessary to introduce a provision the effect of which will be to prevent them from serving for more than 12 years from the date of their original appointment. It is to ascertain the intention of the President of the Board of Trade in inserting the second part of the subsection that I have moved the Amendment.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Derek Walker-Smith)

As the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) has said, this is a relatively minor point. I gather that he has moved the Amendment primarily for an interrogatory purpose. As he and the Committee will be aware, the provisions of the Bill enable members of the Monopolies Commission to be reappointed. If they are reappointed, the period of their reappointment is as specified in Section 1 (3) of the 1948 Act, and it is true that the 12-year maximum will include their service both upon the old and the new Commission.

If there is to be a maximum period—and Parliament has already expressed its will about that, generally, in earlier legislation—it would seem appropriate that the 12-year period should apply specifically, whether a person has served that period all in one piece with the new Commission, or in two pieces, partly with the old and partly with the new Commission.

If the 12-year period were to run from the date of reappointment instead of the date of appointment, as at present contemplated, it would mean that members of the Commission reappointed in 1956, after, say, eight years' service, would serve for 20 years in all, which is a good deal beyond what would be open to any newly appointed member, and well beyond the original contemplation of Parliament. In those circumstances, without wishing to be at all dogmatic, it would seem that the solution which is contained in the Bill is the appropriate one.

For the comfort of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, I would point out that the three members of the existing Commission with the longest existing service would not complete 12 years' service till 1960, so that if it were desired to reappoint a substantial number of the members of the existing Commission there would be no question of this 12-year limitation causing there to be a lack of experience on the part of members eligible for service upon the new Commission. In those circumstances, I hope that the hon. Member will be satisfied, and that we may pass on to what he has correctly described as the major issue of the Clause.

Mr. Wade

I have made it clear that, upon the main issue, I am not satisfied with the provisions of this Clause and Clause 23, but I have ascertained what I wished to know upon this point, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

I beg to move, in page 19, line 1, to leave out subsection (3).

The Chairman

I think that the Committee could discuss, together with this Amendment, the Amendments to Clause 23, page 19, line 25, to leave out subsection (1), and in line 33, to leave out "such reference as aforesaid" and insert: reference made to the Monopolies Commission after the commencement of this Act under section two of the Act of 1948

Mr. Darling

Yes, Sir Charles. That arrangement suits us, because it gives us an opportunity to begin with a debate upon what is probably the most important issue with which we have to concern ourselves today, namely, the future of the Commission. Following that debate, we need not spend a great deal of time upon individual Amendments.

The purpose of these Amendments is really to ask the President to look again at Part III of the Bill. We are now considering the future of the Commission not in the proper context of what is needed to deal with monopolies—with the growth and concentration of industry, and so on—but in the narrow context of a Bill aimed only at taking away from the Commission part of its work. We suggest that it is wrong that we should have a hurried debate this afternoon. It must inevitably be hurried—

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)


Mr. Darling

It must be an inadequate discussion because—unless we come to it again tomorrow—we have not suspended the Standing Order today and we shall have to have an inadequate discussion of the question, because Parliamentary procedure will not allow us to go on debating tomorrow, and some time after the Recess, the future of the Monopolies Commission. However, I know that the right hon. Gentleman is not responsible for this hurried debate; I am sure that he would have preferred a wider discussion of this subject.

One of the things which cause me some misgiving is the fact that the right hon. Gentleman's proposals are based upon an assumption that the legal procedure of the Bill will work satisfactorily—in other words, that it will be quite satisfactory if we take away from the Commission the whole of that part of its work which deals with those restrictive practices which will come within the purview of the Restrictive Practices Court if the Bill is passed in its present form.

We take a different view. We say that the Commission should be left alone, so that it will be big enough, adequately staffed, competent and able to deal with many restrictive practices which may receive the approval of the Court. If these practices are taken away from the purview of the Commission it may be that no one will be able to keep a proper supervisory control over the agreements concerned.

There is another good reason why we do not want to see the Commission weakened. With the possible concentration of industry as a result of automation, a permanent body is needed to examine industrial and trading arrangements, a body which may go beyond the terms laid down in the 1948 Act, which was somewhat limited. Many of the possible industrial developments may have a monopoly character about them or, although not running counter to the conception of competition contained in the Bill, nevertheless ought to be examined and reported upon by some body so that we can see how the new technical developments in industry are working out.

The Bill removes from the purview of the Commission only the examination of restrictive practices. We admit that that is a fairly big field, but, even without going into the wider realm which I suggested a moment ago, many activities which come within the scope of the 1948 Act should continue to be dealt with by the Commission. We have certainly not exhausted the examination of a single-firm monopolies, many of which have not been reported to the Board of Trade for examination, probably because, at the moment, there are no serious complaints about their working. But that does not mean that complaints will not be received in the future. We feel that it is wrong to weaken the Commission merely because one part of its work has been taken away. We do not think it right to assume that the field of its activities must necessarily be greatly reduced as a consequence.

There are also developments which may be promoted by the Bill itself which should be examined. The Bill may tend to cause the formation of what have been referred to as "inter-connected bodies corporate ",for the purposes of getting round its provisions. That tendency may be much bigger in its scope than has been suggested by hon. Members opposite. If that is so, and this tendency becomes fairly widespread, these interconnected bodies corporate—having themselves introduced a new element into the field of monopolies and restrictive practices—should be examined. We suggest that there ought to be a competent body to deal with that examination.

4.0 p.m.

To us, there is a weakness in the Court procedure on which I have already touched, but which I think it is important to mention again. Some of the agreements which get the approval of the Court would, of course, come up for examination by the Court afterwards for any change in the agreement, but it may be that the Court, giving a judgment based only on the legal considerations laid down in the Bill, might allow some trade agreement with restrictive practices in it to continue and, subsequent to the Court giving its approval, it may be seen —as was not seen before when the issue was before the Court—that the agreement is far more restrictive than the Court thought possible.

In those circumstances, we need a body outside the Registrar and his arrangements, and outside the Court, to look at those agreements, and to make sure that they are actually working in the public interest, in the event of consumers and other bodies complaining that the Court has allowed restrictive practices to go on, and that those practices have been given the approval of the Court, when, in fact, the effect of the practices has been contrary to the public interest.

Sir Lancelot Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)

I do not want to interrupt the train of thought of the hon. Member, but would not the result of his suggestion be that if an agreement were found to be much more restrictive for some reason or other than the Court originally contemplated, then, in accordance with his suggestion, it would be twice reviewed—once by the Restrictive Trade Practices Court and once by the Monopolies Commission? Surely that would be quite impossible.

Mr. Darling

I may be wrong about my interpretation of the Bill, but I cannot see that in all the circumstances the review of the Court would happen so automatically as the hon. Member has suggested.

I was coming to a further matter. Many of the agreements which will be approved by the Court will be agreements which are all right in themselves. In other words, we may get a group of firms in an industry with a whole series of agreements. As I read the Bill, each separate agreement will be examined by the Court, but not the whole of those agreements together. There will not be a review of an industrial organisation and the effect of the whole of the workings of that industry on the public interest. The Court will merely examine one agreement and then another agreement each by itself. That may be all right.

We may get decisions from the Court which prove that certain of those agreements are in the public interest. Taken by itself, each agreement may appear to be all right but, when all are taken together, those agreements, which got the approval of the Court, may add up to restrictive practices which ought not to continue. I may be wrong, but so far as I can see the Court would not be in a position to review the whole industrial set up in that wider context.

In circumstances like that, we suggest that even the effect of the working of the Court may require examination by a competent Monopolies Commission. Already, the example of the petrol companies has been given and repeated in this Committee several times. I shall repeat it again, but very briefly. Here, the example is quite appropriate. We may have a situation in which the oil companies now complaining about the exclusive arrangements which the petrol companies are making might get together with the manufacturers of other motor car accessories in a defensive agreement against the big petrol companies. That agreement may have the approval of the Court because it is a defensive agreement.

That may be satisfactory from many points of view, but the real cause of the trouble, the individual actions of the petrol companies, would not be examined by the Court. As far as I know, not one petrol company has more than a third of the country's trade in petrol and it may be that the action of the individual petrol companies would not be examined by the Monopolies Commission either.

I do not want to go into all the suggestions we would make if we had a proper discussion on the future of the Monopolies Commission and about extending its scope, but, obviously, cases are coming along in which the scope of the Commission ought to be extended. This, we think, is one of them. We are suggesting only that it would be wrong at this stage, without a proper examination of the work that someone has to do in this field, to limit the Monopolies Commission in the way suggested in the Bill.

There is another matter in connection with the relationship of the Court and the Monopolies Commission to which I wish to refer. So far as I can see, we are making no provision for anybody to review the working of the Act. The right hon. Gentleman has agreed with us that in this Bill we are really stepping out into the dark. We do not know what is to happen. We do not know how many agreements have to be dealt with by the Court, or the kind of decisions the Court will take on purely legal questions. We do not know whether it will work satisfactorily or not, but in this field we suggest that there should be a body with the necessary background, the necessary body of knowledge which it has itself built up, to be in a position to advise us about the workings of the Act if the Bill goes through in its present form. We think a review of the Court and the workings of the Court and the Act ought to be undertaken by the Monopolies Commission.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that we are worried about the references which have already been made to the Monopolies Commission. We appreciate that the reference about common prices will now fall by the way because the Court will be dealing with common prices in regard to individual agreements, but other matters which are left to the discretion of the President to decide whether they shall continue or not are very important matters. There is the question of electrical generating machinery, for instance.

I do not know whether I would fall foul of some of my hon. Friends if I said that a case could be made out for level tendering in that industry, but not in the clumsy and crude way in which the electrical manufacturers are doing it now. I should like more information about the electrical manufacturers' industry's arrangements to be made public, so that we can see the matter in its proper form and against the background of the whole of our industrial organisation, the export trade, and so on—the whole of our economic necessities.

We should like to be told far more than we have been told up till now about the intentions of the President with regard to agreements and references which have already been referred to the Monopolies Commission. The ten references sent to the Monopolies Commission certainly do not exhaust the complaints which have been made by the public, by consumers, about manufacturers and trading organisations. They are complaints which we think ought to lead to some examination by the Monopolies Commission—complaints, for instance, about flour milling, margarine manufacturers, the makers of cast-iron pipes and cement pipes, and paper makers.

I see no reason at all why the Monopolies Commission should not be retained in something like its present form in order that those examinations can be made and that there will be no cutting down, or slowing down, or cutting off of the work of the Commission. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied from the cursory examination he has made that the industries about which complaints have been made by customers should not be referred to the Commission. He may be satisfied that everything they are doing is in the public interest, but we want something more than the personal satisfaction of the right hon. Gentleman.

We want far more information about industry than we get now. There is far too much secrecy in British industry. There is probably more secrecy than there is in any other western industrialised country. There is far more secrecy than there is in the United States.

Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)

Or monopoly, either.

Mr. Darling

That is perfectly true, of course.

We want a permanent fact-finding body —not an elaborate Civil Service organisation but a body of people who can do this job of examining and finding out what is going on in British industry—not only concerned with monopoly practices but with any complaints that are made; with any need, for instance, to examine the workings of industry, the need coming from any quarter. For instance, we have representatives of textile constituencies complaining about the importation of cheap cotton goods. There is very little interest created in that problem. It is a real problem, but there is very little interest because we do not have any public examination of it. There are matters like that which require an examining body.

In the development of automation which may well lead to a greater concentration of industry—in this field one cannot foretell the consequences—we suggest that there ought to be a body to keep the technical developments under review. Most hon. Members would agree that it is clear that in these technical developments the Government will have to play a part in guiding the improvements, the new technical processes and all their consequences, in the public interest.

We want to know who will provide the facts on which we in the House of Commons can base our judgments. We cannot take the one little case of Standards by itself; we have to have a much wider examination in the sphere of automation. Whether it is a widened Monopolies Commission or some other body which makes the examination, it must be made and it should be a permanent, a continuous, examination. We suggest that in the Commission we have the basic organisation to do the work, and that to weaken it at this stage when so much in the future is obscure to us in the industrial field, is a really deplorable move.

We would point out that the President of the Board of Trade has admitted during debates on the Bill that he is looking into the dark. No one can tell how the Court will function. No one can tell how this concentration of industry which I have been talking about will work out. Although the right hon. Gentleman shares our common ignorance in these matters, he is going to be adventurous enough to leap into the dark and to say, "You can cut down the Monopolies Commission; we will not need it in its present form, and everything will work out all right ". We think that he should restrain himself.

All we ask is that he postpones a decision to weaken the Commission until we have had time in the House of Commons thoroughly to examine the future of the Commission in this wider context that I have been talking about. The right hon. Gentleman may find that he must, in the context of the Bill, remove the reference to restrictive practices from the Commission, but we ask him not to go any further than that. We ask him to keep the Commission as it is until we have had a real opportunity thoroughly to examine the situation. He will have time for reflection when he returns from Capri, and I hope that he will undertake, after what may very well be a well-deserved holiday, to look at Part III of the Bill again and to postpone any action which will weaken and hamstring the Commission.


The Chairman

With these three Amendments, it might also be convenient to discuss the Amendment in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) at the same time. It deals with more or less the same point.

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

Are you referring, Sir Charles, to the one in page 19, line 24, at the end to add: and shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament". I think that that is rather a different point.

The Chairman

No. I am referring to the one in line 16, to leave out subsection (5).

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I think that that would be convenient.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling), 1, also, am against hurried debates, especially on such an important matter as this. I am all in favour, when it can be arranged, of more leisurely debates. Therefore, I suggest that it is a disadvantage, because of the other considerations involved, that the Committee should be asked to discuss this subject under anything like pressure of time.

There is a very short and convenient course open to the President of the Board of Trade which would remove all our anxieties and meet the detailed criticism which my hon. Friend has made. I suggest in all seriousness that, here and now, the right hon. Gentleman should scrap the whole of Part III of the Bill. That would be the proper, the courageous and the correct decision for him to take.

He has, in fact, been exhorted to take that step by organs of the Press which normally support the Government. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that Part III is quite unnecessary to Parts I and II. On the whole, subject to the criticisms we have made, we have welcomed Parts I and II. We have tried to improve the Bill, and we believe that we have by detailed amendment. But Part III is a reactionary step which is completely out of keeping with the right hon. Gentleman's professed anxiety to take a great step forward in his political career by stamping out restrictive practices and monopolies.

We regard Part III as not only unnecessary and mischievous but reactionary. We ask him either to scrap it or to postpone it. We say that he has got the Restrictive Practices Court and he has got Clauses 19 and 20 which abolish collective resale price maintenance. Why tack on Part III and curtail the functions of the Commission? I do not think that there is any necessary clash between the two, but if there is it is within the power of the right hon. Gentleman to avoid it. As the Economist pointed out in its article, the President of the Board of Trade can control the activities of the Commission; he can decide what matters are referred to it and what are not. He can avoid any clash of jurisdiction.

As my hon. Friend said, it may well prove that there yet remains a most fertile field of inquiry and useful activity for the Commission, but, if we are wrong about that, then a decision to dismantle it later on can be taken in the light of events. Why take that step now? Why sabotage what has proved a most useful fact-finding piece of machinery. Is it that the President of the Board of Trade is afraid of what future Governments may want to do? Is it that he is not sufficiently confident about the activities of his Court?

After all, the right hon. Gentleman has shown in his speeches that whereas in Parts I and II we are, as we hope, setting up some machinery which will deal effectively with certain restrictive trade practices, we are not thereby doing anything whatever to stop the evils of monopoly which afflict—and in the future unless checked will continue to afflict—hamper and hamstring British industry in the great competitive efforts it has to make with growing rivalry from other countries.

Some of us fear, and a great deal of the Press fears—and it is quite likely—that one of the possible effects of the attempt in Part I of the Bill to stop restrictive practices and to stop the collective enforcement of various methods of resale price maintenance, will in itself tend to produce monopoly. Therefore, we want to retain this machinery, which has proved so effective. I do not think it has proved as effective as it might be, but it is better than nothing.

We ask the President: why introduce this Clause in Part Ill to cut it down? Do not let there be any doubt about this Clause, because it both limits the numbers of the Commission and it restricts the kind of reference that can be made to it, which will, in effect, destroy a great deal of such rather limited efficacy as it has had in the past. It is of great value in finding facts. Even though some of the Reports made by the Commission have not been acted upon, they have, at any rate, produced a great deal of valuable information, which has directed the minds of hon. Members and of the public to the kind of evil which we are all anxious should be avoided in future.

Our request to the President is that he should not merely accept this Amendment, and even this series of Amendments which we are discussing, but that he should take the bold and courageous decision of postponing the whole operation of Part III, retaining the existing size, functions and powers of the Monopolies Commission, so that, at any rate, in what is a very novel and experimental field, we may see how things work out with regard to registration and the activities of the court, and yet we may have in reserve, if wanted, the powers of the Monopolies Commission.

If they prove unnecessary, they need not be utilised in full. The cost is not of any great significance, and this country is not too well organised with statistical information, as compared with the United States. Let us not scrap what is a useful piece of existing machinery, because if, contrary to what we think, in years to come it proves unnecessary, it will be quite easy for a subsequent Government to change it.

I earnestly ask the President to respond to the appeals made to him on this Amendment, and to bear in mind what not only the Economist but the Financial Times said to him about this matter, and on reflection, to decide that the whole of Part III should be scrapped.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

On previous occasions, when we have been discussing this Bill. I have referred to the work of the Select Committee on Estimates, and I make no apology for going back to the Report published early in 1953 on its investigation into the work of the Monopolies Commission.

Sometimes, I think that those hon. Members who devote these long and tedious afternoons to the work of the Select Committee on Estimates do not get their work fully recognised. When the Reports appear, they are like stones dropped into a well; they make a slight "plop," but nobody knows what has happened. On this occasion, the Select Committee provided what I think was an admirable Report, and it then found that the Commission, which was entitled at that time to have a membership of not less than four and not more than 10, which is what is proposed in subsection (3) of Clause 22, was inadequate for the job.

The Select Committee reported that, in its view, the size of the Commission should be increased, as, indeed, it was increased. The reason why the Select Committee made that recommendation was because it was satisfied on the evidence which it had taken from industry itself that it was absolutely essential, if the Commission was to do its work properly, that it should pay a great deal of attention and devote a great deal of time to making inquiries. In the Report itself, it is stated, and I quote: Evidence was given by representatives of the Electric Lamp Manufacturers' Association and the British Ironfounders' Association, both of which have been the subjects of reports by the Commission, to the effect that it would be wrong for the Commission not to make an exhaustive and careful inquiry, and that industry would demand a thorough inquiry". That is to say, industry itself wants to see that the Commission should be so managed or staffed that it would be able to do a proper job. The members of the Select Committee asked whether this thorough examination could be made if more salaried staff were appointed, and it was made clear that the bottleneck was at the top in the Commission itself.

I think the President has to make up his mind either to leave the Monopolies Commission in operation as an active investigating body, so staffed at the very top with commissioners as to be able to do an efficient job or to wind the thing up altogether. The worst thing that could happen would be for the Commission to have to revert to the position that existed in 1953, when, because it was inadequately staffed with commissioners, it was taking an inordinate time to present Reports. The Commission was on occasions presenting Reports that were out-of-date, because the industries which it had been investigating had changed their practices and technique. If we were to go back to that, it would be to deny the value of the advice given in 1953 by a Committee the chairman of which was a member of the right hon. Gentleman's own party. I think it would be a highly retrogressive step, which could only lead in the end to the Commission being held in such, I will not say contempt, but light regard, that its work would be completely ineffectual.

For that reason, I hope he can accept my hon. Friend's suggestion, and that Part III of the Bill will be withdrawn. I hope at least that he will accept the Amendment, because that would give him power to retain the Commission and its staff with its present powers.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

This Clause reconstitutes, but does not abolish, the Monopolies Commission, but I think there is no doubt that it does limit its effectiveness, because as the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) has just said, it will reduce its size. It will also have that effect because it will prevent any reference to groups within the Commission.

It is surely true that one of the difficulties in which the Commission has been involved has been the delay and the time which it takes the Commission to investigate various practices. It is not as if, even now, the Commission was, so to speak, ahead of its work, and even with the reduction which I agree must be made in its work by this Bill, which will remove a great deal of work, there would still be ample to occupy a Commission of the present size.

Secondly, this is a rather ill-defined field, as we all agree. It is not as if a new court were going to deal with a well-established corpus of law; it will have to exercise its judgment in an ill-defined field. Thirdly, for that reason, too, it would be worth while for the President to keep the Commission at its present strength and to enable it if necessary still to sit in groups.

I would not go as far as the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) in suggesting that the Commission should rove over the whole field of industry. I am not clear whether a Commission set up to examine monopolies could possibly examine automation and the troubles of the Lancashire textile trade. The members are not necessarily qualified in those fields. I regard the Commission as having a rather more limited scope, but, nevertheless, its scope is wide enough to occupy its attention in its present form. It could give the President very useful advice on collusive tendering. I think it would be a pity if this large body of experience were to be denied to the President. The right hon. Gentleman may say that this will still be available. He may be quite satisfied that he can give sufficient directions for the Commission to have sufficient work to do but we need reassurance on that point.

4.30 p.m.

There are questions concerned with oligopoly—cases in which the market is shared among a few big firms, although none controls more than one-third. That is unexplored territory where, I should have thought, the Commission could have done a great deal more useful work. Lastly, there are the new developments. There will be attempts to get round the Act and there will be the unforeseen results of the Act itself. There will be the growth of monopolies by industries seeking to establish what I would call restrictive practices by creating a monopoly within the industry. There, I should have thought that the Commission could have found plenty to do.

For my part, therefore, I ask the President to see whether he is certain that it is right to reduce the size of the Commission or to give the impression that its powers will be limited in any way.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The Committee has heard a variety of contributions on what has been described as the most important matter which will come before the Committee in its consideration of the Bill this afternoon. It may therefore be of some assistance if I intervene at this stage. I cannot altogether dismiss the pessimistic possibility that I may fail in my effort completely to carry conviction to the breasts of all hon. Members, but it will of course be possible for my right hon. Friend to intervene at a later stage to deal with any further points, if that seems desirable to the Committee and to the progress of these proceedings.

In the Amendments which are being taken together, we are concerned with the size and the scope of the future Monopolies Commission. These are, of course, inter-related subjects, and it will be agreed that the size of the Commission should depend upon what is the appropriate scope of its functions. In effect, in our approach to Part III of the Bill, we have sought to follow three principles, and to apply them. In the first place, we have sought to apportion the work between the Restrictive Practices Court and the Monopolies Commission on a logical basis —that is to say, seeking to give to the Court jurisdiction where the issue is clearly justiciable.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

Not that.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The hon. and learned Gentleman said "clearly justiciable" That is exactly what we have been gainsaying all through the Bill.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Parliament has made up its mind on that point in a sense contrary to the advice tendered by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I am sure that I should be incurring the rebuke of the Chair if I sought to reopen the issues from which we have already parted. We, at any rate, took the view that certain issues were justiciable, and Parliament has now decided in that sense.

In our approach to the problem, therefore, we sought to give to the Court the issues which were justiciable—and I will leave out the word "clearly",in deference to the feelings of the hon. and learned Gentleman—and in applying that principle the Restrictive Practices Court is seized of restrictive agreements affecting the home market which are justiciable. The Monopolies Commission will have referred to it agreements exclusively affecting the export market and monopolies of scale or single-firm monopolies, as they have been described.

The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) spoke of weakening the Commission. but I must start by reminding the Committee that in respect of the functions which are allotted to the Monopolies Commission there is no weakening at all, because those duties and those functions will be as strong under the new procedure as under the 1948 Act. Certain matters are removed from the Commission's jurisdiction, but in respect of the jurisdiction remaining to it there is no weakening.

The second principle which has guided us in regard to Part III is the desirability of avoiding any clash of jurisdiction between the Court, on the one hand, and the Commission, on the other hand. The third principle is to seek to suit the size of both Court and Commission to the expected volume of work with which they will have to deal.

I ask the Committee to say that those three principles are perfectly logical and proper ones; and when they are applied they lead one to a system such as that which we seek to set up in Part II1 of the Bill. Clause 22, with which the first Amendments deal, implements the third principle by reconstituting the Monopolies Commission on the smaller scale suitable to its smaller functions, and Clause 23, which is the subject of the other Amendments, implements the other two principles of apportioning the duties and avoiding a clash of jurisdiction.

The way in which we have sought to apply the principle of avoidance of a clash of jurisdiction is by the subsection which one of the Amendments would omit—Clause 23 (1), which excludes from the jurisdiction of the Commission registrable agreements under Part 1 of the Bill, because those are the agreements which will come before the Restrictive Practices Court. In the application of the principle of avoiding a possible clash of jurisdiction, they must therefore be excluded from the jurisdiction of the Monopolies Commission.

In regard to that principle, it is possible to argue that such matters are better dealt with by a judicial system or it is possible to argue that they would have been better dealt with by the Monopolies Commission; but I cannot believe that there is any force in an argument that they should be dealt with by both simultaneously, or that each should have a jurisdiction which can overlap the other.

If we accepted the arguments and the Amendments of hon. Members opposite, we should abandon the principle of seeking to avoid the clash of jurisdiction, because we should remove the safeguard which at present exists in Clause 23 (1) against avoiding that clash. It has been argued by hon. Members in a persuasive way that there is still a field of activity for the Monopolies Commission in the matters which will come before the Court. The hon. Member for Hillsborough went particularly wide and said that a general supervisory power should be left in the Monopolies Commission.

I should like to put a specific question to the House. Suppose the Monopolies Commission were left with a supervisory function in regard to agreements which had already been dealt with or could be dealt with by the Restrictive Practices Court. If the Restrictive Practices Court finds that those agreements are contrary to the public interest, it prohibits them. in that case there would be nothing left for the Commission to supervise or investigate. If, on the other hand, the Restrictive Practices Court allows them to continue it means that those agreements have passed the exacting tests of Clause 16 and have been declared to be not contrary to the public interest.

If the Monopolies Commission should then be given the power to supervise, what is to be the effect of that supervision? Is it to prohibit agreements which have just emerged from the exacting tests of the Court as being not contrary to the public interest? There could not be a clearer case of clash of jurisdiction than that.

The other alternative, however, is that its supervision would be of a purely academic character, and that the Commission would have no effective power or be allowed to take any course of action arising out of the supervision. In the one case there is a clear clash of jurisdiction, and in the second case the Monopolies Commission would be charged with a duty which was academic and could not lead to any useful result.

Mr. G. Darling

Surely the Monopolies Commission would deal only with cases that come within that category at the request of the Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade would not make the request unless it was seen that something had gone wrong. As it is, as I have said, a group of agreements may go through which are inter-related; each one may be all right but their working together may be all wrong. In such circumstances —this may be purely hypothetical, I agree, but it might prove to be a real situation—we think that the Board of Trade should have power to ask the Monopolies Commission to look at the matter.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I cannot for a moment agree with him that that would be a suitable solution for the sort of problem which he envisages in a hypothetical case.

Mr. Darling

There is no other solution.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Gentleman must not say that there is no other solution. In Clause 17 he will find power for the Registrar to make application to the Restrictive Practices Court for reconsideration of the case and, if necessary, for a variation of the order upon grounds of change of circumstances; and the sort of matters which the hon. Member has in mind would, I think, come within the ambit of that Clause.

Mr. Darling

No, they would not.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I think that they would. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that they would not we can look at that point again during a further stage of the Bill.

What I do say to the hon. Member and to the Committee is that the remedy must be sought along the lines of referring the matter, if necessary, to the Court. It must not be sought along the lines of seeking to involve my right hon. Friend, through the Monopolies Commission, in a clash of jurisdiction. The Committee will also have in mind the fact that although in this country we do not operate the constitutional doctrine of a complete separation of powers—because the Executive and Parliament are inter-related—we, nevertheless, do operate the separation of the judiciary from the Executive. It is, therefore, vital to find the solution within that principle which I expressed earlier—the avoidance of a clash of jurisdiction.

Mr. Darling

I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. He is confining his answer to a very narrow point. In this case we were merely asking that the Monopolies Commission should inquire and present us with the facts—tell us the story—and nothing more.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. Walker-Smith

1 do not think that a body such as the Monopolies Commission can be used simply on that reviewing basis to assist the Registrar—if that is what the hon. Gentleman is now seeking to say.

The whole of his argument really rested on the desirability of extending the scope of the Monopolies Commission far beyond what it was under the 1948 Act. He views the future of the Monopolies Commission as being that of what he called a permanent fact-finding body which would be concerned not only with monopolies but with such matters as automation and textiles. That is not a function for the Monopolies Commission. The function of reviewing the general working of the Act, to which the hon. Gentleman refers, and the function of reviewing the general considerations relating to the advent and implementation of automation are the concern of Parliament, and cannot properly he delegated to other bodies.

In my submission we have to look at this matter in a somewhat narrower context, as, I think, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) agreed. He agreed that the Monopolies Commission should not be so extended as to have those wide functions, but he suggested that there were still functions which it could usefully perform. From that he argued that the Commission should have a larger basis than that which we are giving to it. He mentioned collusive tendering as an example. In so far as collusive tendering is a factor in the export field, that, of course, would be within the ambit of the Monopolies Commission according to the present drafting of the Bill.

The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) took a rather different view of that. He suggested—or rather he began by suggesting—that we should be wise to scrap the whole of Part III. He evidently did not find his own argument so very convincing, because the conclusion at which he arrived at the end of his speech was that we ought to postpone the operation of Part III.

He prayed in aid the argument of the Economist; that is to say, that the clash of jurisdiction could be avoided by executive action. I have great respect for the opinions of the Economist on this as on other matters, and I am very grateful for the general support that it has given to the Government point of view—in common with other authoritative and informed newspapers—in regard to this Bill. But on this particular point I must dissent from what the Economist says, because if executive action is to exclude the Part I agreements from the Bill then, of course, it is much better to do it precisely by Statute than to leave it to be dealt with haphazardly or imprecisely by executive action. If, on the other hand, executive action is not to include the Part I agreements it meets with the same difficulties as do the suggestions propounded by the hon. Member for Hills-borough because a clash of jurisdiction could not be avoided.

Having said that, I should like to assure the Committee that in Part III of this Bill there is no intention to dismantle the Commission—to use the language of the hon. Member for Islington. East—and, quite clearly, there is no intention to leave it as an inactive or inefficient body, to use the language of the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer). The difficulties to which the hon. Member for Deptford referred—the 1952 difficulties—were, of course, cured by the 1953 Act, and the machinery then set up, as qualified for the more restricted scope of activity, will ensure that the Commission remains as an efficient, active and important body.

Sir L. Plummer

How does the hon. and learned Gentleman know this? Is he not guessing? He does not know what work is going to he given to the Monopolies Commission. He has a guess that the staff will be sufficient on the basis of the Clause. Suppose the work is considerable. Is he then to come back to the House and ask for another Amendment to increase the staff? Would it not be better to have a permissive figure which would cover all eventualities?

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, it is not the case that we do not know the type of work that the Commission is going to do. I have already sought to define what the scope of function would be under the provisions of this Bill—the monopolies of scale together with these exclusively export agreements. The monopolies of scale, as the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) will see, include the interconnected bodies corporate to whose activities he referred. If the hon. Gentleman will look at Section 3 (1, a) of the 1948 Act he will see that they are included.

We have at present fifteen members on the Monopolies Commission with its present jurisdiction, although the maximum figure is twenty-five. We think that the figure of ten as suggested in the Bill, with a, so to speak, permanent and professional chairman, is the right figure for the more limited but still important functions which the Commission will have to discharge. I would not leave the Committee in any doubt about the fact that we regard the functions which the Monopolies Commission will discharge under this Measure as important functions and that for that purpose it will require to be, as I am sure it will be, an active and efficient body.

We have thought much about this, but we have come to the conclusion that in order to implement the principles of which I have spoken, it is necessary to take away from the Monopolies Commission any jurisdiction over the agreements which will come to the Court, and, that being the case, the Monopolies Commission should be somewhat reduced in size to that which we have defined in Clause 22.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

I am unconvinced by what the Parliamentary Secretary has said. He is, of course, weakening the Commission in this sense, that he is reducing the number of members and he is curtailing their power to sit simultaneously in more than one group. He says that he is doing this because he believes that the work which they will have to do will be very much reduced.

In the first place, even if he were right in that opinion, it would surely be wiser to refrain from making this curtailment by Act of Parliament. If it turns out that the Government's opinion is wrong, there will be a difficulty in that the Commission will not be able to do the work unless an amending Act is passed. If, on the other hand, the Government took our advice and at least left themselves with these powers, the worst that could happen would be that the Commission would not have a full-time job to do, and that surely would be a much lesser evil.

But leaving that aside, it seems to me that there are some reasons for thinking that the Government are wrong in their opinion that there would not be enough work for the present Commission to do. First of all, there are all the interconnected bodies corporate. There are many interconnected bodies corporate in this country, and practically none of them have yet been investigated. Secondly, in my opinion, there are going to be even more interconnected bodies corporate as a result of this Bill, for reasons which we have stated before and need not go into now. Thirdly, it seems to me that there are certain general subjects for investigation, partly of a fact-finding kind but, no doubt, also involving recommendations in certain cases which the Commission could perfectly well carry through simultaneously with the working of the Court.

I agree that it would be foolish to have the Commission carrying out an inquiry into precisely the same agreement in the same industry as was coming before the Court. But if our advice were accepted, it would be open to the President of the Board of Trade to refer to the Commission some general question where he thought and where he was satisfied that there would not be a clash of jurisdiction. If that were not so, clearly he would not make such a reference. We cannot be quite certain today that such a situation will not arise. If it did not arise, and we left the Bill as we want it, the President of the Board of Trade would refrain from making the reference, and that is all the mischief that would follow.

May there not be other subjects suitable for investigation which are not within the category of interconnected bodies corporate and do not involve the agreements or the arrangements which would bring them within the main part of this Bill? To give an example that comes into my head, we have had mentioned at one stage of our debate what the Americans are supposed to call conscious parallelism—the case where three or four firms act in the same way. There is no evidence of an agreement or arrangement, but in fact it has the effect of a monopoly.

I do not know, but that may be a very useful thing to have investigated in this country. For all I know, there are other instances where the Commission would do useful work. For all those reasons, it seems to us that, as far as we know now, there is plenty of work for the Commission to do and therefore we think it would be wiser to leave it with full powers and not cut it down by Act of Parliament at this stage.

Mr. Wade

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that we are dealing with the size and scope of the Commission, but I think that he and his right hon. Friend have been too logical in reaching a decision to cut down the Monopolies Commission. 1 will give my reasons as briefly as I can.

As I listened to the debate on Part I of the Bill, I came to the conclusion that a number of smaller fish may well be caught by the new net, but it seems highly probable that some of the larger fish will escape. Again, on Part II, I came to the conclusion that it was probably the larger concerns which would derive most benefit from the new procedure. It may be that that was inevitable once this method of dealing with restrictive practices had been embarked upon, but it seems all the more important that we should be very chary about cutting down the size and scope of the Monopolies Commission. The day may come when we may find it reasonable that the Monopolies Commission should be reduced in size, but I do not think that day has yet come.

I suggest that these provisions are both premature and unnecessary. The President of the Board of Trade in advocating the earlier provisions said that we must obtain a balance—a compromise between those who wish rapidly to get rid of more restrictive practices and those who believe sincerely in maintaining them and who wish to have every opportunity of putting forward their case for their retention. The President of the Board of Trade did not wish this balance to be upset.

There is no question of retaining any delicate balance. It would not upset the procedure which has been set up in Parts I and II if we did not approve of Part III. Part III deals with the discretionary powers of the Minister, and the only reason I can see for this cutting down of the Monopolies Commission at present is legislative tidiness. I think the answer was made by the Economist, which has already been referred to. These are the words used in the Economist of 12th May, 1956: By incorporating these unnecessary Clauses in the Bill he is throwing away a useful reserve weapon out of sheer statutory tidiness of mind The only reservation I would make is that amongst these Clauses it is right to include Clause 23 (4) which repeals Section 15 (1) of the 1948 Act. We shall come to that later. I thought that was a fair statement by the Economist.

5.0 p.m.

There is one other point which I should like to make. The Monopolies Commission has, I believe, a valuable function to perform in dealing with general references. I am concerned at the possibility that the opportunity for an inquiry into these general subjects may be limited as a result of what we are now doing. For example, it was clear from our debates earlier that exclusive dealing will not be caught by the provision relating to registration. I mentioned the case of the petrol companies and the effect of their agreements on independent garage proprietors. I also mentioned the case of the agricultural machinery trade, where exclusive dealing may have a very serious effect upon independent manufacturers. It seems to me that that would be a useful subject for examination by the Monopolies Commission. If, however, not only the words "restrictive practices" but the whole principle of the examination into restrictive practices were dropped and the word "monopoly" used in its limited meaning, I am afraid that any general inquiry of that nature would be ruled out. Therefore, I feel that it would be unwise to approve these proposals in Clause 22 and those which come later in Clause 23.

May I ask a question, because it may perhaps ease our minds to some extent? In the concluding subsection of Clause 22, we read: This Section shall come into force on such date as may be appointed by order made by the Board of Trade by statutory instrument". I estimate that even from the Minister's point of view and from the point of view that we do not want to have too much overlapping, it would take about three years before we could ascertain how this new procedure would really work, and to what extent we could reasonably cut down the Monopolies Commission. I should like to know what date the Minister has in mind for making this order, because, if it is three years or later I feel that we should perhaps not be upsetting the general policy of tackling restrictive practices to the extent that we should be if we passed this Clause on the assumption that this order would be brought forward at an earlier date.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

If the Parliamentary Secretary's speech is the President's last word on this series of Amendments, I am afraid that they are both in danger of forfeiting their Parliamentary good conduct medal which they had been winning from the Economist. I doubt very much whether its leader writers will be referring to their brilliant Parliamentary performance after the Parliamentary Secretary's showing this afternoon, because he totally failed to deal with the very simple propositions which the Economist has been urging, along with us, that the Monopolies Commission and— here I quote the Economist: should be kept in full being as a reserve weapon behind the new system". The, Parliamentary Secretary's only reply was to give us three principles —a rather nice sort of legalistic logic of categories. They do not meet the practical position at all. First, the Parliamentary Secretary said that there must be a proper apportionment of work between the new Restrictive Practices Court and the Monopolies Commission. But the whole of our complaint is that what the Government are doing in Part III of the Bill is to take away from the Monopolies Commission some work which will not be given to the Restrictive Practices Court, and which will in fact lapse altogether as a result. There are gaps created and they will have the effect of shrinking the size and functions of the Monopolies Commission out of all proportion to the adjustments necessary by the fact that there are certain jobs which will obviously in future have to be done by the Court and not by the President's order arising out of the Monopolies Commission's Reports.

One example which I would give very briefly is that if the President's approach to the Monopolies Commission in future is to be on the lines which the Parliamentary Secretary suggests, it looks as if we shall not have any more reports industry by industry, and we shall lose a whole wealth of valuable information which might show us ways in which our own legislation ought to be improved. Is not this information valuable, even though our practice in future will be different from that which it has been in the past? I would say that the Government on this point have been answered out of their own mouths. They have told us that they are going to publish the Reports on the current references to the Monopolies Commission on completion. If these Reports are to be of no value in the future, why waste public money on publishing them? Why complete the Reports on rubber, footwear, metal windows and all the rest and publish them, if any report on a whole industry is to have no value? The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that this will cost £100 million. Why not save a few thousand of that by closing down altogether. But, of course, these Reports will be of value and so will the others which could be made if the references were allowed to be completed.

The second point which I would make to the Parliamentary Secretary—if he were listening instead of gossiping—concerns his theme of which he makes so much, that there must be no clash of jurisdictions—that this was the essence of sensible government. That really will not bear examination, because the difficulty here is that this Bill has loopholes where there is no jurisdiction at all. This is where the whole of our armoury against restrictive practices breaks down. I should like to give an example from the Economist, in order to show that this is not just a piece of partisanship, but a very practical point. It arises particularly from the action which we are taking under Clause 20 in giving legal enforcement to individual resale price maintenance.

This has alarmed a great many of us. The Economist has pointed out that the Monopolies Commission's Report on tyres came to the conclusion that the only way to tackle price restrictionism in this industry was by banning individual resale price maintenance. The Economist said that unless we did that all our efforts to break up collective arrangements would be abortive. But we are not doing that under this Bill. On the contrary, we are giving to the tyre manufacturers power to enforce by law their own resale price maintenance arrangements.

That means that we have in a very important industry a restrictionist policy affecting the consumer very directly over an important field which is not covered by Part 1 or Part III of the Bill. We tried, under our Amendment to Clause 19, to deal with the situation. We wanted the Court to refuse the right of enforcement of resale price maintenance unless it was satisfied that it was in the public interest. The Government turned it down. The Economist agrees with us, and has said that this is a very serious loophole in the Bill and that the Government ought to have steady investigations of industries where individual resale price maintenance, which we now propose to enforce under the Bill, may result in serious restrictionist activities.

TheEconomist quotes the motor trade with its exclusive list of dealers and points out that the motor trade may get away with its exclusiveness of dealers on the ground of safety, by going to the Restrictive Practices Court and saying that the motor car is a lethal weapon and that they must be satisfied that its sale and maintenance is only in the hands of men who will operate in the interests of public

Division No. 186.] AYES [5.10 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Cunningham, Knox Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Aiken, W. T. Currie, G. B. H. Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Danoe, J. C. G. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Deedes, W. F. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Arbuthnot, John Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hope, Lord John
Armstrong, C. W. Doughty, C. J. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Ashton, H. Drayson, G. B. Horobin, Sir Ian
Atkins, H. E. du Cann, E. D. L. Howard, John (Test)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Duthie, W. S. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Balniel, Lord Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A.(Warwick & L'm'tn) Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Barter, John Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hyde, Montgomery
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Errington, Sir Eric Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Farey-Jones, F. W. Iremonger, T. L.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Fell, A. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Finlay, Graeme Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bishop, F. P. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Black, C. W. Foster, John Joseph, Sir Keith
Body, R. F. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Bossom, Sir A. C. Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Keegan, D.
Boyle, Sir Edward Freeth, D. K. Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Braine, B. R. Garner-Evans, E. H. Kerr, H. W.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) George, J. C. (Pollok) Kershaw, J. A.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Gibson-Watt, D. Kirk, P. M.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Brooman-White, R. C. Graham, Sir Fergus Leavey, J. A.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Grant, W. (Woodside) Leburn, W. G.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Green, A. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Campbell, Sir David Cresham Cooke, R. Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Carr, Robert Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Linstead, Sir H. N.
Channon, H. Harris, Reader (Heston) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Cole, Norman Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Longden, Gilbert
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Harvie-Watt, Sir George Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Craddook, Beresford (Spelthorne) Hay, John McAdden, S. J.
Crouch, R. F. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)

safety. They may get by with that. Then, under Clause 20, they will have power to enforce by law individual resale price maintenance and, as the Economist says, we shall have restriction in all its glory operating under this Clause.

What is the way out? The Economist makes the suggestion that the way out is to leave the Monopolies Commission as a flexible instrument which can be used to block up any escape route from the spirit of the legislation which is setting up this loophole. We suggest very seriously that the President is treating the whole problem too frivolously; he is brushing aside arguments of great weight coming from quarters of great authority. He will live to regret the serious damage he is proposing, under Part III, to the Monopolies Commission which, in the view of all those who have studied this question, has been, is, and ought to remain the long-stop in our efforts to deal with this problem.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 199,

Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Partridge, E. Studholme, H. G.
Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Summers, G.S. (Aylesbury)
Maddan, Martin Pitman, I. J. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Pott, H. P. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Maitland, Hon Patrick (Lanark) Powell, J. Enoch Teeling, W.
Markham, Major Sir Frank Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Marlow, A. A. H. Profumo, J. D. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Marples, A. E. Raikes, Sir Victor Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Marshall, Douglas Rawlinson, Peter Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Mathew, R. Redmayne, M. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Mauda Angus Renton, D.L.M. Touche, Sir Gordon
Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Rippon. A. G. F. Turner, H.F.L.
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S, L. C. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Medlicott, Sir Frank Robertson, Sir David Vickers, Miss J. H.
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Russell, R. S. Vosper, D. F.
Molson, A. H. E. Sharples, R. C. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Shepherd, William Walker-Smith, D. C.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Wall, Major Patrick
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Nairn, D. L. S. Spearman, A. C. M. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Neave, Airey Speir, R. M. Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.) Williams, Paul (Sunderand, S.)
Nield, Basil (Chester) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Oakshott, H. D. Stevens, Geoffrey Woollam, John Victor
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Wills and Mr. Godber.
Ainsley, J. W. Hamilton, W. W. Pargiter, G. A.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hannan, W. Parker, J.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hastings, S. Parkin, B. T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hayman, F. H Paton, J.
Anderson, Frank Healey, Denis Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss Alice Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Popplewell, E.
Balfour, A. Herbison, Miss M. Probert, A. R.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Hobson, C. R. Proctor, W. T.
Benson, G. Hubbard, T. F. Pryde, D. J.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Redhead, E. C.
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reeves, J.
Blenkinsop, A. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Reid, William
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Irving, S. (Dartford) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Jeger, George (Goole) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Boyd, T. C. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Ross, William
Brockway, A. F. Johnson, James (Rugby) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Key, Rt. Hon, C. W. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. King, Dr. H. M. Skeffington, A. M.
Champion, A. J. Lawson, G. M. Snow, J. W.
Chapman, W. D. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Sorensen, R. W.
Chetwynd, G. R. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Sparks, J. A.
Clunie, J. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Steele, T.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Lewis, Arthur Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Lindgren, G. S. Stones, W. (Consett)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Cove, W. G. MacColl, J. E. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) McInnes, J. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Cronin, J. D. McLeavy, Frank Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Crossman, R. H. S. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Daines, P. Mahon, Simon Tomney, F.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Turner-Samuels, M.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Davies, Harold (Leek) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Usborne, H. C.
Deer, G. Mellish, R. J. Viant, S. P.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Messer, Sir F. Wade, D. W.
Delargy, H. J. Mikardo, Ian Warbey, W. N.
Donnelly, D. L. Mitchison, G. R. Weitzman, D.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Bromwich) Monslow, W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Moody, A. S. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Moss, R. Willey, Frederick
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Moyle, A. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Fletcher, Eric Mulley, F. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Forman, J. C. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Oliver, G. H. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Gibson, C. W. Orbach, M. Zilliacus, K.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oswald, T.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Owen, W. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grimond, J. Palmer, A. M. F. Mr. Holmes and Mr. Short.
Mrs. Castle

I beg to move, in page 19, line 24, at the end to add: and shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament". I can deal with the Amendment briefly. I do not imagine that subsection (6) means what I take it to mean, and the Amendment is intended to seek clarification. The subsection states that the Clause as a whole shall come into force on such date as may be appointed by order made by the Board of Trade by statutory instrument. It does not specify the nature of the Statutory Instrument.

I understand that there are certain Statutory Instruments which need only be laid and over which the House has no control, either by affirmative Resolution or by annulment by Prayer. If that is so, we on this side would be extremely unwilling to leave the subsection as it is. Clearly, we do not like the Clause and we want the maximum Parliamentary control over its operation and what the President gets up to. We want to be assured that any Order which is laid by the President will be subject to annulment by Parliament.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have the greatest sympathy with the hon. Lady and I certainly do not want to deny her any proper Parliamentary opportunities. At the same time, subsection (6) is common form in many Statutes. When Governments want a certain Section of a Bill to be brought into operation at a different period, it is common form, as hon. Members will recollect, to say that it shall be brought into force by Statutory Instrument. It is common form, therefore, not to have the Order subject to the negative procedure. I am sympathetic towards the negative procedure,

but we have already debated the principle of the Clause and it would be merely repetitive to debate it again on a later occasion. For this reason, the subsection follows the common form.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

This is not the first occasion on the Bill when we have tried to rescue the President of the Board of Trade from those who surround him. As the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) said earlier, the Order which is to be made by the Board of Trade need not be made until the President and his Department have had an opportunity of seeing how the Court works and how the process comes out. Obviously, it is desirable—in our view, at least—that no Order should be made until we have had an opportunity of seeing how the Court works and then for Parliament also to have the opportunity of reviewing the operation of the Clause in the light of the information we then have about the working of the Court. This is, therefore, a point of considerable substance, to which we attach importance.

It is no answer whatever for the President to say that subsection (6) is common form and follows the pattern of a number of Statutes. Equally, many Acts contain provisions whereby Statutory Instruments are subject to annulment. The President's answer, therefore, does not get us anywhere. What we are concerned about is that the Clause should not be brought into operation until we have had the opportunity of seeing how the Court works and then for Parliament to consider the position. For these reasons we shall press the Amendment.

Question put, That those words be there added:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 154. Noes 197.

Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Short, E. W.
Grimond, J. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Hamilton, W. W. Mellish, R. J. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hannan, w. Messer, Sir F. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Hastings, S. Mitchison, G. R. Skeffington, A. M.
Hayman, F. H. Monslow, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Moody, A. S. Sparks, J. A.
Herbison, Miss M. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Steele, T.
Hobson, O. R. Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Hobbard, T. F. Moss, R. Stones, W. (Consett)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Moyle, A. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Mulley, F. W. Strauss, Rt. Hon George (Vauxhall)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Irving, S. (Dartford) Oliver, G. H. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Orbach, M. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Oswald, T. Tomney, F.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Owen, W. J. Turner-Samuels, M.
Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Palmer, A. M. F. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, s.) Pargiter, G. A. Usborne, H. C.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Parker, J. Viant, S. P.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Parkin, B. T. Wade, D. W.
King, Dr. H. M. Paton, J. Warbey, W. N.
Lawson, G. M. Plummer, Sir Leslie Weitzman, D.
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Popplewell, E. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Probert, A. R. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Proctor, W. T. Wilkins, W. A.
Lewis, Arthur Pryde, D. J. Willey, Frederick
Lindgren, G. S. Redhead, E. C. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Reeves, J. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
MacColl, J. E. Reid, William Yates, V. (Ladywood)
McInnes, J. Robens, Rt, Hon. A. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
McLeavy, Frank Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Zilliacus, K.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Mahon, Simon Ross, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Holmes and Mr. Simmons
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Doughty, C. J. A. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh.W.)
Aitken, W. T. Drayson, G. B. Hyde, Montgomery
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) du Cann, E. D. L. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Alport, C. J. M. Duthie, W. S. Iremonger, T. L.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick & L'm'tn) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Arbuthnot, John Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Ashton, H. Errington, Sir Eric Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Atkins, H. E. Farey-Jones, F. W. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Fell, A. Joseph, Sir Keith
Balniel, Lord Finlay, Graeme Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Barter, John Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Keegan, D.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Fletcher-Cooke, C. Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Beattie, C. Foster, John Kerr, H. W.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Kershaw, J. A.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Kirk, P. M.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Freeth, D. K. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Garner-Evans, E. H. Leavey, J. A.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel George, J. C. (Pollok) Leburn, W. G.
Bishop, F. P. Gibson-Watt, D. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Black, C. W. Godber, J. B. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Body, R. F. Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Boothby, Sir Robert Graham, Sir Fergus Linstead, Sir H. N.
Bossom, Sir A. C. Grant, W. (Woodside) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.(Nantwich) Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.
Braine, B. R. Green, A. Longden, Gilbert
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Gresham Cooke, R. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Brooman-White, R. C. Harris, Reader (Heston) McAdden, S. J.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Butler, Rt. Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Campbell, Sir David Harvie-Watt, Sir George Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Carr, Robert Hay, John Maddan, Martin
Channon, H. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle)
Cole, Norman Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marples, A. E.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland-Martin, C. J. Marshall, Douglas
Crouch, R. F. Hope, Lord John Mathew, R.
Crowder, Petre (Rulslip-Northwood) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Maude, Angus
Cunningham, Knox Horobin, Sir Ian Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.
Curris, G. B. H. Howard, John (Test) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Dance, J. C. G. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Medlicott, Sir Frank
Deedes, W. F. Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Molson, A. H. E.
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Redmayne, M. Teeling, W.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Renton, D. L. M. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Rippon, A. G. F. Thorneycrott, Rt. Hon. P.
Nairn, D. L. S. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Neave, Airey Robertson, Sir David Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Russell, R. S. Touche, Sir Gordon
Nield, Basil (Chester) Sharpies, R. C. Turner, H. F. L.
Oakshott, H. D. Shepherd, William Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Vickers, Miss J. H.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Vosper, D. F.
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Spearman, A. C. M. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Speir, R. M. Wall, Major Patrick
Partridge, E. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Stevens, Geoffrey Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Pitman, I. J. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Whitelaw, W.S.(.(Penrith & Border)
Pott, H. P. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Powell, J. Enoch Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Studholme, H. G. Woollam, John Victor
Profumo, J. D. Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Raikes, Sir Victor Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Rawlinson, Peter Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Wells and Mr. E. Wakefield.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.