HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2303-18

Amendment made: In page 25, line 4, at beginning insert: Subject to rules made under section eighteen of this Act" —[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Mr. E. Fletcher

I beg to move, in page 25, line 12, to leave out "either in private or" and to insert "shall sit".

The Chairman

It may be for the convenience of the Committee also to consider the Amendment in line 12, in the name of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley).

Mr. Fletcher

The object of my Amendment is to ensure that the Restrictive Practices Court shall sit in public, like all other courts. We were a little surprised to see that the Schedule proposed to give the Court power to sit either in private or in open court. Surely the sessions of the Court should be open to the public, like those of every other court. I do not know whether the provision to give the Court power to sit in private was inserted merely as a precaution. I hope that it will prove unnecessary in practice, and that we shall have an assurance from the President that, unless there are over-riding reasons of security, all sessions of the Court shall be open to the public.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The answer is simple. The Restrictive Practices Court, like any other court, will be able to sit in public or private, and it will make its own judgment as to which is appropriate. There may be cases where part of an agreement is on the confidential register or there is reference to secret processes. The decision will be a matter for the Court and not for me. It will be a matter within the power of the Court, like any other judicial body.

Mr. Fletcher

It will not be like any other judicial body. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords have no power to sit in private. The general rule is that courts sit in public. It requires exceptional circumstances to give a court of record power to sit in private. I was distressed when the President said that this Court could, like all other courts, decide whether to sit in private or in public. The President says that this is not a matter for him, but the Committee should lay down what it thinks about it. It ought to be made clear that the Court will be expected to sit in public and not in private.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Court will normally sit in public like any other court. I do not think that the analogy with the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal is appropriate here. They are deciding pure matters of law. The Restrictive Practices Court will be deciding quite different questions of mixed law and fact, and sometimes economic judgment. If it is to do its job satisfactorily, we must not limit its power to sit in camera, if it so decides. It must have the right to do so. I have no doubt that it will be a right exercised in a judicial manner under the authority of a High Court judge.

Mr. Fletcher

Not wishing to press the matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 25, line 14, leave out from "a" to "and" and insert "presiding judge."—[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I beg to move, in page 25, line 14, at the end to insert "as assessors".

This is an important Amendment. We propose that the lay members of the Court should be assessors and should not participate in the Court's proceedings in the full way in which a judge does. We are dealing with the matter now upon the footing that the issue is a justiciable one, that we have here a Court dealing with the matter. We are not dealing with a decision on policy. We are not dealing with an inquiry. We are dealing with a Court addressing its mind to a justiciable issue in accordance with court procedure. It is on that footing that we have to approach the Amendment.

The Restrictive Practices Court has the same status as the High Court, and its judges should, therefore, also have the status of High Court judges. During the debates we have had some argument about the position of the members of the Court, and, as the result of all that, my hon. Friends and I are very much concerned about what will happen in this respect, the kind of people who will be appointed, the qualities which they will possess, and how far they can be regarded as on an equality with High Court judges.

During our debate tonight emphasis has been laid upon the importance of the judges of the Court not only being impartial, but appearing beyond all possibility of doubt to be completely impartial. An hon. Member referred to the case of the Egg Marketing Board, which is within everybody's memory. Of course, nobody is making any aspersion of any kind about any individual. I am merely emphasising not only the necessity of actual impartiality, but the appearance of impartiality.

The other thing is competence to deal with a matter as a judge is expected to deal with it. The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Remnant) has previously referred to people who would be appointed as lay members of the Court as those who will be getting towards the latter stages of their usefulness; but it seemed clear from the debate that what was contemplate—the only kind of person available—would be people no longer actually in the full spate of industrial activity. Obviously, that is not a desirable position. I do not want to base my case just on the quality of the laymen and on our concern for the quality of the lay members of the Court. I want to put the case on a rather different footing.

The Court will be dealing with a justiciable issue, approached as a court approaches such a problem. Questions of law will be reserved to the judge, but questions of fact and decisions on fact will be taken by the three members of the Court, the two lay members being appointed for their experience. However, if the members of the Court are to approach the problem as a court, they will have to decide on the evidence before them. The value of the lay members will not be as witnesses and will not be on matters within their knowledge which they can bring to bear as evidence which will be subject to consideration by the Court. The value of their knowledge will be merely as experience which will be available for interpreting and elucidating the evidence which is deployed before the Court. That will be their function. If that is their function, then, obviously, their position is to aid the judge.

They are not people who are experienced in the judicial process. They may have experience of industry, and so on, as required by the Bill, but no experience of the judicial process, which is precisely the experience, the qualification, which is required to come to a judicial conclusion. Their value to the Court is, and they are on the Court, because they can throw light upon the evidence and assist the Court in that way, but it does not follow from that that they should be members of the Court. Far from it, because their experience, knowledge and qualification do not qualify them to be a judge. They qualify them certainly to help in interpreting the evidence, but that is exactly what assessors are for.

That is precisely the role of assessors and they are in the Court to do a job which is exactly the job of an assessor. Their virtue and value to the Court is exactly that.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

indicated dissent.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The President shakes his head. They are not relying upon their outside knowledge in coming to a conclusion directly. Their outside knowledge is available only for the purpose of interpreting and elucidating the evidence, and not in coming to any conclusion independently of the evidence. Of course, it has to be done by interpretation and understanding of the evidence and the decision must be reached on the evidence deployed before the Court. It therefore seems to us that on this ground of principle, apart from questions of qualification which were so fully canvassed at an earlier stage of our discussions, the proper course is to make the two lay members of the Court assessors.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) has moved his Amendment with his customary skill and persuasiveness, but, unfortunately, in this case it has led him to a wrong conclusion. In pressing that the lay members of the Court should be assessors, the hon. and learned Member indicated that in his view their function was to interpret evidence. He seemed to think that the fact that they were to interpret evidence was not a judicial function which would entitle them to be full members of the Court. I must remind the hon. and learned Member of the practice with regard to assessors on the one hand and lay members of a court, or tribunal, on the other.

I suppose that although assessors are to be found in various proceedings under the provisions of Section 98 of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1925, they are best known in the Admiralty Division. In the Admiralty Division, assessors are Elder Bretheren of Trinity House and their function is to advise the court on matters of nautical skill. I am sure that the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) has experience in that as in many other courts and will recall that where one has assessors in the Admiralty Division the responsibility of the decision and the weight to be attached to the evidence, which is the real function of interpretation to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred, rests exclusively upon the judge.

Indeed, where one has assessors in the Admiralty Division, they are, in a sense, almost in substitution of expert evidence, because where Trinity Masters are present, evidence as to matters of nautical skill and practice is inadmissible and may not be given. The sort of case which can come before the Restrictive Practices Court will have nothing in common with that sort of case in which assessors are appropriate. They will be not nautical, but economic cases.

Mr. G. Lindgreen (Wellingborough)

Naughty cases

Mr. Walker-Smith

They will not even be naughty cases of the kind which evidently give so much pleasure to the hon. Member. They will be cases in which the function of the lay members will be to assist in the judging of the case and they will assist by bringing their background skill and experience to the weighing of the evidence. In other words, so far from being excluded from the weighing of the evidence, as they would be if they were assessors, they will be intimately and closely identified with it.

There are many good precedents which are much closer than the collision cases which one dealt with in the Admiralty Division. For instance, there is the Lands Tribunal, with which the hon. and learned Gentleman is probably familiar. In that case, the lay members are full members of the court, and they do their work admirably. Then there is the General Claims Tribunal—in which, again, the lay members are full members of the court. They also do their work admirably. Those cases are much closer to this, and so it is appropriate that these lay members, with all the qualifications prescribed by Clause 4 (1), should be full members and take their part in assisting in judging these matters.

There is one final practical point of great importance. Every hon. Member, whatever may be his view about the proper approach to this matter, will agree about the desirability of lay members being of the highest possible quality. I ask the Committee to believe that we are much more likely to get people of the

Division No. 191.] AYES [8.30 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Hayman, F. H. Owen, W. J.
Anderson, Frank Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Palmer, A. M. F.
Awbery, S. S. Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Holmes, Horace Parker, J.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Houghton, Douglas Parkin, B. T.
Benson, G. Hubbard, T. F. Paton, J.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Popplewell, E.
Blenkinsop, A. Hunter, A. E. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Probert, A. R.
Boyd, T. C. Irving, S. (Dartford) Proctor, W. T.
Brockway, A, F. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Pryde, D. J.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Redhead, E. C.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Reeves, J.
Chapman, W. D. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Ross, William
Chetwynd, G. R. King, Dr. H. M. Short, E. W.
Clunie, J. Lawson, G. M. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Lever, Leslie (Ardwtck) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lindgren, G. S. Skeffington, A. M.
Craddock, George (Bradford, Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sparks, J. A.
Cronin, J. D. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Steele, T.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) MacColl, J. E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) McInnes, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Davies, Harold (Leek) McLeavy, Frank Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Deer, G. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Warbey, W. N.
Delargy, H. J. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Weitzman, D.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Edelman, M. Messer, Sir F. Wilkins, W. A.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W Mitchison, G. R. Willey, Frederick
Fletcher, Eric Moody, A. S. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm,S.) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Gibson, C. W. Moyle, A. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oliver, G. H. Zilliacus, K.
Hamilton, W. W. Oram, A. E.
Hannan, W. Orbach, M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hastings, S. Oswald, T. Mr. J. Taylor and Mr. J. T. Price.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Braine, B. R. Farey-Jones, F. W.
Aitken, W. T. Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Finlay, Graeme
Alport, C. J. M. Brooman-White, R. C. Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Fletcher-Cooke, C.
Arbuthnot, John Campbell, Sir David Garner-Evans, E. H.
Armstrong, C. W. Cole, Norman George, J. C. (Pollok)
Ashton, H. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Gibson-Watt, D.
Atkins, H. E. Corfield, Capt. F. V. Godber, J. B.
Barber, Anthony Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan
Baxter, Sir Beverley Crouch, R. F. Graham, Sir Fergus
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Cunningham, Knox Grant, W. (Woodside)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Currie, G. B. H. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Dance, J. C. G. Green, A.
Bishop, F. P. Deedes, W. F. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Black, C. W. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Body, R. F. Doughty, C. J. A. Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Bossom, Sir A. C. du Cann, E. D. L. Hay, John
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Boyle, Sir Edward Errington, Sir Eric Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.

high quality which we require under Clause 4 (1) if they are given the status of lay members rather than tacked on as technical assessors in the way in which the Amendment provides. I do not want to go into the matter at greater length, but I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will reflect on my remarks and conclude that the Government are right in their approach.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided Ayes 108, Noes 149.

Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Rippon, A. G. F.
Holt, A. F. Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Russell, R. S.
Horobin, Sir Ian Markham, Major Sir Frank Sharpies, R. C.
Howard, John (Test) Marples, A. E. Shepherd, William
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Marshall, Douglas Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Hughes Hallet, Vice-Admiral J. Mathew, R. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh.W.) Maude, Angus Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Mawby, R. L. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Iremonger, T. L. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Studholme, H. G.
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Medlicott, Sir Frank Teeling, W.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Molson, A. H. E. Thorneycroft Rt. Hon. P.
Joseph, Sir Keith Nairn, D. L. S. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Neave, Airey Touche, Sir Gordon
Keegan, D. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th.E. & Chr'oh) Turner, H. F. L.
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Oakshott, H. D. Vickers, Miss J. H.
Kerr, H. W. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Vosper, D. F.
Kershaw, J. A. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Kirk, P. M. Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Partridge, E. Wall, Major Patrick
Leavey, J. A. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Leburn, W. G. Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Pitman, I. J. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Pitt, Miss E. M. Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Linstead, Sir H. N Pott, H. P. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Powell, J. Enoch Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Longden, Gilbert Profumo, J. D. Woollam, John Victor
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Raikes, Sir Victor Yates, William (The Wrekln)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Rawlinson, Peter
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Redmayne, M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Renton, D. L. M. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Maddan, Martin Ridsdale, J. E. Mr. Hughes-Young.

Amendment made: In page 25, line 20, leave out "president" and insert "presiding judge."— [Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

I beg to move, in page 25, line 22, to leave out paragraph 6 and to insert: 6. Each member of the Court shall give separately the reasons for his decision. I will deal briefly with this Amendment. It brings to the attention of the President of the Board of Trade a point which has been troubling us. The Schedule provides that the judgment of the Court shall be delivered by the president. What is not provided for is separate judgments by the separate judges. I will put my points to the right hon. Gentleman without developing them in any way.

First, we are entitled to know who make what decisions in the Court. Here, for instance, it is quite possible to have the two lay judges, over a period of time, outvoting the judge of the High Court; yet the whole status of the Court is derived from the fact that a High Court judge is the president. That is a false and misleading position. Therefore, we should have separate judgments from the three judges. They are dealing with difficult questions of economic policy, etc., and we want to know how the economic members of the Court decide and how the judicial member of the Court decides. The country is entitled to know.

Secondly, it is an extraordinary position where we have a provision that the judgment shall be delivered by the president, who will be the High Court judge, when it need not be his judgment at all. We may, time and again, have judgments delivered by the president to which he himself does not subscribe. What does one expect? Does one expect the High Court judge to say, "I shall now deliver a judgment which I have written but with not one word of which I agree"? Or is be lust to sit there and lend the sanction of his presence and his judgment to something which is not his at all?

I appreciate that there are courts, like the Privy Council and others, where no separate judgments are given. I have given the reasons why I think there should be separate judgments in this Court. At the moment I cannot recollect a court where the judgment has to be given by a judge who may disagree with the judgment, but that is what is provided for. Apparently, the High Court judge is to act as a secretary to the tribunal to deliver the judgment and to give it the sanction of his own status. It really is a rather ridiculous position. We ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this somewhat undignified provision before we reach the Report stage.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. and learned Gentleman has adverted to some inconvenience which he thinks may result from the procedure contemplated in the bill, but there would also be inconveniences if there were to be separate judgments on these issues delivered by each member of the Court. The Committee will appreciate that it is not normal to have separate or dissenting judgments expressed in a court except from the point of view of the consideration of the law. For example, a dissenting judgment in the Court of Appeal is something which the House of Lords considers.

Here questions of law are reserved exclusively to the judge, so there can be no question of the judge being over-ruled on any question of law. Matters on which a common judgment will be given are matters of, as it were, mixed fact and economic background judgment. On those matters I do not think we need, or indeed should, contemplate the strict dichotomy, and still less the inherent conflict, which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems almost to suggest between the judicial member on the one side and the lay members on the other.

If the Court comes to a decision, it is true that it will come to a majority decision if there is an irreconcilable conflict. It could happen in such a case that the judge could conceivably give a judgment from which he personally dissented, in the same way as might happen in any court such as the Privy Council where the actual make-up of the decisions is not revealed.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

But the provision is that The judgment of the Court in any proceedings shall be delivered by the president. Even if he disagrees completely with the judgment, nevertheless, the High Court judge must be the person to give the judgment. There is no provision like that in the Privy Council.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Walker-Smith

No; that, of course, is true, because here there is one High Court judge who is presiding over the particular Court and is the appropriate member to give the judgment. Of course, if that were to be varied, then the principle of the unity of judgment would go, and if we were going to vary it, we might as well do it in a more frank and open manner than that.

I would just add that I do not think that we ought or need to contemplate the sort of situation which the hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested as possible—that of the High Court judge being constantly over-ruled and outvoted. I do not think it would happen, if we look at the realities of the matter. I think it is very unlikely that a judge would wish to sit in a court with which he found himself constantly at variance.

I think that that is the reality of the matter, as hon. Members will appreciate, because when the judge is nominated in the Restrictive Practices Court, it is to be anticipated that the members of the Court will in fact be able to work as a team; and I do not think we ought to view the situation in terms of any necessary or probable conflict between the lay members on the one side and the judicial member on the other. Though I do not say that there are no inconveniences in regard to this method I think that the inconveniences of the method suggested in the Amendment outweigh those to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

It is an astonishing proposition that a High Court judge should withdraw from the Court because he was in constant disagreement with the two other members of it, if that is what the Parliamentary Secretary implies. What it implies is the end of independent judgments, and that is one thoroughly good reason why we should have the judgments separately given—precisely for that reason, among others.

Of course, no judge would withdraw from a court because of constant disagreement with the other members of the court. It is one of the guarantees of justice that he is there, and does express his judgment and give it independently. The members should not be chosen as a team, but for their independent judgment, and one guarantee of independent judgment is that individual judgments should be delivered and not just be given by the president of the court. What the Parliamentary Secretary has said really undermines the basis of independent judgment and of faith in the courts. It really is quite extraordinary.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I should not like the hon. and learned Gentleman to get, and still less to give, though inadvertently, any false impression about this matter. I have already said that I regard the situation to which he refers—that of constant disagreement and constant minority —as being a most improbable situation indeed, and for this reason. The evidence will be given before the Court, two members of which have a certain background of economic knowledge and the third of which has an expertise in the interpretation and assessing of evidence. I do not think it at all probable that, when all three listen to the same evidence, and when the judge has the known power of assessing evidence, he will find himself constantly in a minority. Quite frankly, I cannot contemplate such a situation as being within the realms of probability, and barely of possibility.

Mr. E. Fletcher

This situation is really most unsatisfactory. The Parliamentary Secretary has been talking about constant disagreement between the judges and the lay members, but it is quite sufficient for our purpose if there is a disagreement in one particular case, or in two particular cases between the judge and the other members. From the point of view of the industry concerned in any particular case, it is their case that matters. What the Parliamentary Secretary has just said is in violent conflict with what he was saying a few moments ago.

I really must ask the President to reconsider the matter. He has just rejected an Amendment which suggested that the two lay members should be assessors. The right hon. Gentleman rejected that proposal on diametrically opposite lines to those on which he is now resisting this Amendment. There are two courses open to the Board of Trade. It can say that it would like the two lay members to be assessors, in which case we should know once and for all that they were acting purely as assessors and that the judgment of the Court was the judgment of the judge. But the Government rejected that proposal on the precise ground that they wanted the lay members to be, not assessors but full and independent members of the Court, with the same status as that of the High Court judge who presides.

If that is what they want, then each of the three members of the Court must have independence and must each have the right to come to separate and perhaps different conclusions from the others. It may well happen—and I am concerned

even if it may happen in only one or two cases—that the three members, acting with complete independence and impartiality, which ex hypothesi everybody wants, come to different conclusions. It may well happen that, with the best will in the world, the two lay members come to a conclusion different from that of the president.

In that event, surely the parties and the public are entitled to know the views of each member of the Court. The duty ought not to be put upon the presiding judge of giving the judgment of the Court as though he had agreed with it when in fact he had not agreed with it. If it were to happen, even in one case, that the High Court judge had placed upon him the duty of giving as the judgment of the Court something with which he disagreed, that must be wrong. This judgment is open to appeal in the Court of Appeal. The facts can be reviewed. As the Parliamentary Secretary said, it may depend upon a balance of mixed facts and mixed law, and possibly economic considerations.

Mr. Ede

They are sure to be mixed.

Mr. Fletcher

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter, in fairness to the parties and in fairness to the public, because the kind of decision which the Court will have to reach in some cases is similar to those which the Monopolies Commission has reached, and the President himself knows that the Monopolies Commission is frequently divided. He takes credit, for instance, for not having implemented the Report dealing with tyres because in that case the Commission was divided. The same thing may happen here, and the parties are entitled to know what each member of the Court thinks.

The procedure suggested is most unsatisfactory, and I hope the President will reconsider it.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

I hope that in the closing moments of this prolonged Committee stage the Government will undertake to look at this again. Surely my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) is quite right; it matters not whether there are a constant succession of cases in which the deciding judge is at variance with the two lay members of the Court or whether there are only one or two such cases. Even if there are only one or two such cases, it will be an absurdly undesirable thing to have a presiding judge delivering judgment based upon facts which he thinks are wrongly arrived at.

It is all very well for the Parliamentary Secretary to say that the decision will contain law and facts. There will be a great many facts, and it is surely very undesirable that a High Court judge should have imposed upon him the responsibility, which has never been imposed on a High Court judge before, of setting out, as part of a judgment, findings of fact which he believes to be mistakenly arrived at. This is a strong proposition, and how better could the Government facilitate the completion of the remainder of the long Committee stage than by saying that they welcome the opportunity to reconsider this matter?

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

I am reluctant to prolong the debate at this late hour, but this is rather an important point. The arguments addressed on the previous Amendment about the assessor were rejected by the President, and it seems to me that if these members of the Court are not assessors but are judges in a real sense, each of them coming to a decision, it is quite wrong to contemplate the situation in which a High Court judge himself is not in agreement with the two lay members but yet has to give a decision on behalf of the three members of the Court.

After all, if one compares it with the procedure in the Court of Appeal, where decisions are given by three judges, and it is stated that one judge may dissent and the other two agree, there is no reason why that procedure should not be followed here. From the point of view of the judge himself it is only right and proper that a decision should be given by each member of the Court.

There is, of course, a second consideration; that here we do value the opinions, and the decisions made by each of the members of the Court. A great deal of stress has been laid on that in the debates on the various Amendments. For those reasons, I submit that this is surely a matter about which the President could think again and alter his decision.

Amendment negatived

Amendment made In page 25, line

23, leave out "president" and insert "presiding judge."—[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered Tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 141.]