HC Deb 04 April 1957 vol 568 cc620-2
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. David Renton)

I beg to move, in page 20, line 26, after "Authority", to insert "or any Area Board".

This Amendment brings the employees of area boards within the purview of the Regulations which may be made under Clause 25 (2). That subsection governs the compensation which is payable to officers in the industry who might be adversely affected in consequence of the Bill in the same way as employees of the Central Authority.

We have put down the Amendment in pursuance of a request made during the Committee stage by the Opposition. I need only add, just to repeat what my right hon. Friend said in Committee, that we think it is most improbable that any area board employee will be adversely affected in the way feared by hon. Gentlement opposite. We do, however, agree that it is right in principle that the position of such employees should be covered in case they should be adversely affected.

Mr. Palmer

We on this side are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and to his hon. and learned Friend for bringing in this Amendment in response to the request we made. The Amendment which we put down, which we thought would serve the same end, was imperfectly drafted, as is so often the case with Amendments put down by an Opposition, and we withdrew it on the understanding that the Government would bring forward a suitable Amendment. As the Parliamentary Secretary points out, it is a most useful provision, and it will give a feeling of confidence and security to employees in the industry.

The Bill as drafted allows for compensation only to members of the Central Authority and to officers or employees of the Central Authority, in the event of their conditions of work, emoluments and so on being worsened by reason of the Bill becoming an Act and coming into force. The logic behind it is, I imagine, that it is the Central Authority which is wound up by the provisions of the Bill, and it is unlikely that employees of the area boards will be adversely affected. We appreciate the logic of the argument, but we felt—and representations were made to us by the trade unions and staff associations on the point—that one can never tell what will happen as a consequence of legislation. That has been the experience of the electricity supply industry in the matter of staff compensation, and, in order to put all doubts at rest, it was felt that employees of the area boards should be similarly protected.

The general effect of the Amendment. as I see it, is that any employee of the industry or member of a board who happens to be adversely affected by the coming into force of the Bill will be entitled to compensation on the terms and conditions laid down. We are grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr, Renton

I beg to move, in page 20, line 29, at the beginning to insert: Subject to the next following subsection." go. May I suggest that this Amendment, which is really consequential upon the next Amendment to insert new subsections (4) and (5), should be taken with it? The effect of the two Amendments is this. First, the decisions of referees when deciding upon compensation to officers for loss of office and so on should be subject to appeal to the High Court on case stated, if erroneous in point of law. The other point which is covered is that, when there is an appeal from the decision from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, that shall not be the end of the matter, but there may be a further appeal to the House of Lords, also, of course, on a point of law, provided that either the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords gives leave to appeal in the usual way. Again, in pursuance of representations made by the Opposition in Committee, we have put down these Amendments to cover both those points.

5.15 p.m.

Sir F. Soskice

I rise simply to express my thanks to the bon. and learned Gentleman. As he says, anxiety was voiced in Committee about the two matters he has mentioned. He has, by his Amendment, sought to meet those anxieties. I should like to thank him very cordially for so doing.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made:In page 20, line 36, at end insert: (4) Where any regulations made under sob-section (2) of this section provide for appeals to be brought as mentioned in paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of the said section fifty-five, the regulations shall make provision—

  1. (a) for enabling any party to such an appeal, who is aggrieved by the decision of the referee or board of referees on tie appeal as being erroneous in point of law. to require the referee or board to state a case for the decision of the High Court, and
  2. (b) for requiring the decision of a referee or board of referees on such an appeal to be modified, where requisite, so as to conform with the decision in any proceedings in the High Court on a case stated in accordance with the preceding paragraph, or in any proceedings arising from any such proceedings:
and a decision of the High Court on a case stated in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection shall be treated as a judgment of that court for the purposes of section twenty-seven of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1925 (which relates to the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine appeals from any judgment of the High Court. (5) So much of subsection (5) of the said section fifty-five as provides that the decision of the referee or board of referees shall be final shall have effect, in relation to appeals brought by virtue of this section, subject to the provisions of the last preceding subsection and of any regulations made in accordance therewith.—[Mr. Renton.]