§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I beg to move, in page 15, line 41, to leave out "a" and to insert "at least one".
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It seems to me to be for the convenience of the House to consider at the same time the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), in page 15, line 41 leave out "a person" and insert "three persons", and the second Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett), in page 15, line 43, leave out "a" and insert "at least one".
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
Clause 18 provides for the establishment of a Companies Committee to advise the General Optical Council on matters relating to bodies corporate carrying on businesses both as ophthalmic opticians or as dispensing opticians. The Council is required to co-operate by naming a representative of the ophthalmic bodies corporate and another representative of the dispensing bodies corporate.
According to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), three representatives, instead of one representative, are to be named from the ophthalmic bodies. I am not clear what the object of the Amendment is, but no doubt the hon. Member will explain it later. It occurred to me that it would overweight the Companies Committee with representatives of ophthalmic bodies, not only in relation to dispensing bodies but in relation to the representation from the Optical Council 545 itself, unless one visualises a very large Committee.
Accordingly, I tabled my Amendment as an alternative so that it would make it possible to consider this matter when the rules governing the constitution of the Companies Committee are made. It can then be considered in the light of the competing claims to representation and of the size proposed for the Committee as a whole. My Amendment is very much more flexible than that of the hon. Member.
My second Amendment makes a similar provision to increase the representatives of the dispensing opticians on the Committee. It is true that the dispensing bodies are very much less varied in type than the ophthalmic bodies, but it seems to me that they are of comparable importance and that they ought to have equal representation. I understand that the form of the Amendments which I have tabled is acceptable to the promoters of the Bill.
§ Mr. Beswick
I should like to explain the purpose of my Amendment. There is no intention in it to stress the importance of one branch of the profession as against another. The Clause calls for the inclusion of a person—I would say that it should be more than one person—who can represent the interests of bodies corporate. My reason for thinking one person inadequate is that there is a variety of interests of bodies corporate. This was so previously, but it is now more so in view of the acceptance of one of the Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) and other hon. Members.
I am not here arguing for direct representation of various interests, but perhaps I might refer to the fact that there are three types of body corporate which will, under the terms of the Bill, be enabled to offer an ophthalmic service. There are the co-operative societies, the multiple specialists and the department stores. There are, indeed, a number of other interests involved.
It is required that the Companies Committee should be enabled to give advice to the Optical Council. That being so, 546 presumably there must be people on the Committee who can give advice and who are familiar with the workings of the type of bodies corporate on which they are advising. Therefore, it seemed to me proper to make a provision for three representatives—I might, more properly, have said "at least three"—of bodies corporate who are engaged in the business of ophthalmic opticians. I cannot understand why there should be an insistence on the inclusion of the number "one". In my opinion, one person alone will not be in a position to offer advice about the whole range of these bodies corporate.
We are dealing here with an advisory body, not a committee which will be in a position to give out privileges or licences. We are asking for nothing except an opportunity to give advice. I hope that the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell), if he is not in a position to accept the Amendment, will at least tell us that it is hoped that the General Optical Council will include in the Companies Committee a sufficient number of people as will adequately represent the varying types of bodies corporate which will now be in a position to engage in this business.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Beswick
I beg to move, page 15, in line 41, to leave out "a person" and to insert "three persons".
I had hoped that the hon. Member for Wembley, South would be able to respond to the invitation which I gave a moment ago to clarify what he thinks ought to be the number of people on this Committee.
§ Mr. Russell
I can give the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) the assurance for which he asks. He will agree that the Amendment in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) is broader than his Amendment. "At least one" could be two or three or four or even six and need not be only three. As my hon. and gallant Friend pointed out, his Amendment covers both ophthalmic and dispensing opticians. I am sure that the General Optical Council will take note 547 of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge.
§ Mr. Beswick
I accept what has been said, although it seems to me that had my Amendment not been, put down we probably should not have had the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In line 43, leave out "a" and insert "at least one".—[Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett.]