HC Deb 14 July 1959 vol 609 cc354-70

10.46 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

I beg to move, That the Electricity (Staff Compensation) Regulations, 1959, a draft of which was laid before this House on 8th July, be approved. I would suggest that it might be for the convenience of the House if we discussed, at the same time, the following Regulations: That the South of Scotland Electricity Board (Staff Compensation) Regulations, 1959, a draft of which was laid before this House on 7th July, be approved.

Mr. Speaker

They both seem to me to be on the same lines.

Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth) indicated assent.

Mr. Speaker

Very well.

Mr. Macpherson

The Scottish Regulations made jointly by my noble Friend the Minister of Power and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the other Regulations made by the Minister, follow very much the same lines. The Scottish Regulations arise out of the reorganisation of the electricity supply industry in the South of Scotland in 1955, and the other Regulations arise because of the changes effected in England and Wales by the Electricity Act, 1957. Both sets of Regulations are broadly similar in form and are framed on the same principles.

They are based partly on the Electricity (Staff Compensation) Regulations, 1949, which were made in consequence of the requirements of the Electricity Act, 1947, and partly on the more recent code of compensation which was applied in the changes in the steel and road haulage industries in 1953. They have been prepared following discussion with the trade unions involved, and I should like to acknowledge the very helpful comments made and the spirit of cooperation which has inspired them. In particular, the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) has been most assiduous in safeguarding the interests of his members and, as always, most courteous.

I do not think that the House would wish me to go over the Regulations in any great detail. They are designed, firstly, to provide "resettlement compensation" for loss of employment lasting thirteen weeks or, in the case of older men, up to a maximum of twenty-six weeks. This can be followed if necessary by "long-term compensation," which is payable where there is loss of employment, or where there is loss or diminution of emoluments or of pension rights, or where there is a worsening of a man's conditions of service as a whole. Claims for long-term compensation must be made not later than two years after the date of occurrence of the cause of the claim, or from the first date on which the claimant could reasonably have known of the occurrence, or within six months of the coming into operation of the Regulations, whichever is the later. The Regulations are thus fully retrospective. I hope that, with this very short account, the House will be prepared to approve them.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Could the hon. Gentleman give us an adequate explanation why it has taken so long to present the Scottish Regulations which arise out of an Act passed in 1954?

Mr. Macpherson

There have been very complicated discussions, as the hon. Member for Cleveland will know, for he has pressed us on this matter on several occasions, but we have managed to get them completed now.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)

I do not intend to speak for very long at this stage of the night but, as the Joint Under-Secretary has been good enough to mention, I can speak on this matter with some fairly intimate knowledge of the consultations which have taken place between the Scottish Department, the Ministry of Power, the trade unions and the staff associations. I think I can say that the trade unions representing all grades of employees in the electricity supply industry in both England and Scotland would wish to pay tribute to the helpful way in which they have been taken into consultation by the Departments. At the same time, I would agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) that the Scottish Regulations have been a very long time coming. It would not be fair perhaps for me to mention just when the consultations with the trade unions were concluded in relation to Scotland, but the hon. Member must know that it was quite some time ago.

The unions have been able to put up constructive suggestions for the improvement of the Regulations on one or two points of principle, and also a number of points for improved drafting, but it would be wrong to suggest that every point raised by them has been conceded, or that they feel that everything is now perfect. I would make one comment in that respect, in a most charitable spirit. It seems to me that in both Departments in these days there is far too much leaning on precedents. Far too often, when the unions have tried to push the Departments a little further in the light of changing circumstances, they have been told, "This reflects the policy of successive Governments."

It is quite a time since the first major post-war precedent was laid down in this matter of electricity supply compensation. I refer to the Regulations arising out of the nationalisation Act of 1947. It is not always sensible therefore to answer the unions coming forward with new and perhaps substantial points of principle by the argument that so-and-so has been the practice of successive Governments. That argument cannot be put up for ever, because times and methods change. I think that the Labour Government did a very good job with the Regulations under the Act of 1947, although I was a little critical even then of some aspects of them, but to suppose that even those Regulations, good as they then were, are necessarily a model for all time would be stretching things too far.

I have three general points to raise. The electricity supply industry in the United Kingdom is an expanding one, in respect of which the unions would agree that we would not expect to see very much redundancy or loss of employment as a result of reorganisation. It is quite likely that the electricity boards of Scotland and England and Wales will be able, as a matter of everyday practice, to provide new employment for those who are displaced. But that is not to say that there will not be now some compensation claims under the terms of the legislation. One cannot say.

The great difficulty is to distinguish between the loss of employment, or diminution of emoluments, arising directly from the effect of the legislation, and that which might come about anyhow because of the normal process of everyday change. That is a matter for the tribunal and, finally, under the provisions of the Electricity Act, 1957, for the courts of law. We now have the statutory right of appeal to the courts themselves. This was one of the Opposition's suggestions in Committee.

I also agree that, on the whole, the compensation provisions are reasonably generous. On balance, they are more generous than those normally paid in private industry, although not on the same princely scale, of course, as the compensation that is sometimes given, according to the newspapers, to those directors of brewery companies who are so fortunate as to be the reluctant victims of take-over bids. There is no compensation on that massive scale provided for in these Regulations, but on the whole I think—this is a tribute to nationalisation -that the terms are better than those normally available in private industry. That is as it should be, because if Parliament makes changes by legislation which may affect the conditions of work, pay or future prospects of employees in a great industry, then Parliament has a moral obligation to see that their interests are fully safeguarded.

Now to some points of detail. In order to obtain temporary resettlement compensation it is necessary to have three years' service and for long-term compensation, eight years' service. Sickness is not included as service. There should be some qualifying period, but the view of the unions, which I share, is that the period is too long, and I am sorry that the Minister has not shortened it. It is also a bit hard that sickness should be excluded. I should have thought it sufficient if the contract of service was still in existence.

Any disturbance giving rise to a claim must have occurred within ten years. After that period it is irrelevant. I dislike a limiting period. After all, there is always the safeguard in a case for compensation that it is still necessary for the employee to argue successfully that the loss he suffered arose out of the provisions of the Act and was not the natural result of normal change. I should have thought that sufficient without a limiting period of ten years.

We all agree, I think, that other employment for displaced employees is preferable to cash compensation, however generous. That is certainly the view of the unions. The recent trend of electricity legislation, from which I do not greatly dissent, has been to decentralise. There is now a sharper distinction between the generation side and the distribution side under the provisions of the 1957 Act. England has also been divided electrically from Scotland by the 1954 Act.

Although that is the trend of recent Government legislation, when it comes to the question of alternative employment the industry is still treated as one throughout the United Kingdom. If I may give a possible if exaggerated case, it means that if an employee of the South-West Electricity Board, working near Land's End, loses his job as a result of the legislation, if other employment cannot be found for him within his own Board and if he is told that there is a job available in the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board near John o' Groats, then if it is a comparable job he must take it or he will not receive compensation. That is an extreme case, maybe, but is it not going a little too far to say that an employee must take any other job offered to him, irrespective of where it is?

I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us why there has been a change in the wording of the Regulations since 1949. These present Regulations read: no account shall be taken of the fact that the duties of the employment offered involve a transfer of the claimant's employment from one place to another place in Great Britain. The 1949 Regulations, arising out of the 1947 Electricity Act, read: shall not be held not to be suitable or reasonable by reason only of the difference of employer or place. The trade union view, I know, is that the words of the 1949 Regulations are more flexible. I should be glad to have an explanation of the change.

Finally, it may be that we are all to blame, but it seems extraordinary that in order to provide compensation we have to have sixteen intricate pages of delegated legislation. I suppose that it is inescapable but it is curious, nevertheless, and I wonder whether it would not be simpler to give wide general powers to the electricity boards telling them to pay compensation but leaving it to their natural fair judgment and to the unions to negotiate the terms. That is purely a personal suggestion. Yet notice the ease with which the boards can dispose of vast sums of money according to their commercial judgment—and I do not quarrel with that—and contrast with that freedom the careful and detailed control which Parliament insists on using over relatively small sums of compensation to employees.

The Parliamentary Secretary may say that this contradicts in part what I said earlier about the obligations of Parliament, but I am feeling my way forward and suggesting that it is curious that we have to have these pages of intricate legislation in order to pay careful compensation to possibly displaced employees when it could be better left perhaps to the normal just practice of the good employer and to the organised strength of the trade unions representing the employee.

11.4 p.m.

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

Will the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland say another word or two about the Scottish Regulations? How many people does he believe are affected by the Regulations? We are providing for compensation for loss of employment for those people who lost their employment as a consequence of the passage of the 1954 Act.

Did anyone lose his job as a result of the merging of the South-West and the South-East Electricity Boards, and the taking over by the Secretary of State for Scotland of the responsibility of the Minister of Fuel and Power for electricity generation in the South of Scotland? It is very odd to read Regulation 6, which lays down: The Board shall, subject to the provisions of these regulations, pay resettlement compensation to every person to whom Regulation 3 applies and who claims such compensation and in relation to whom the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say … he has made his claim for resettlement compensation in accordance with the provisions for making claims set out in Part V of these regulations before the end of his resettlement period or of thirteen weeks from the date of coming into operation of these regulations, whichever is the later. That means that if any employee lost his job in consequence of the 1954 Act he is now told that he has to make his claim for compensation from the vesting date or from the making of these Regulations.

Were there any such people? I rather think that there were not any such persons who lost their employment because of the Scottish Act of 1954. Indeed, if there were, it would be unreasonable, Parliament having taken care to write in Section 12 of the Act, which provides for the making of Regulations for the payment of compensation, if nothing had been done to give effect to Parliament's undertaking. I therefore assume that no one at all has been affected.

Or is it possible that people can yet lose their employment in consequence of the passage of the 1954 Act? If so, can the Joint Under-Secretary tell us how it can happen? In any case, loss of employment, diminution of emoluments and loss or diminution of pension rights being the three main categories provided for by these Regulations, did the Under-Secretary mean in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) that it has taken five years to negotiate these provisions with the trade unions?

Did they not start those negotiations until after the English Act of 1957 was passed—three years after the passage of the Scottish Act? Did the Scottish discussions have to wait on the English discussions on an Act passed three years after the Scottish Act? I must say that unless the hon. Gentleman can give a satisfactory explanation we shall regard the whole business as rather fishy.

11.9 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

The Joint Under-Secretary tried to get away with open robbery tonight. But for the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) we would not have known anything at all of what the Regulations really meant. The hon. Gentleman made no proper effort to explain the circumstances in which we have these Regulations presented to us only now, when they arise out of an obligation laid down in an Act of 1954 in which the vesting day to which the claims relate was 1st April, 1955. We should have a more adequate explanation of these delays.

The result of these delays is that we get into all this tangle of people now finding out just exactly what their rights are, and the question of whether or not anyone is affected, and the suggestion that people now have to make application not later than two years after the first date on which they could reasonably have known of the occurrence—the termination of the loss of employment, and so on, or within six months of the coming into operation of the Regulations, whichever is the later. I might add that I have not the slightest doubt that the six months is bound to be the later in this case.

I am primarily interested in what is to be considered in determining what is referred to as "long-term compensation". I should like to draw attention to paragraph 14. At the beginning it is stated that one of the factors For the purpose of determining whether long-term compensation for loss or diminution of emoluments or worsening of position should be awarded to a claimant … shall be this or that.

Then, paragraph (c), it is stated that one of the relevant factors shall be the extent to which he has sought suitable employment and the emoluments which he has or might have acquired by accepting other suitable employment, including retraining offered to him; What I want to ask is whether we could be given a limiting definition of what is "suitable employment". How is it to be determined? Secondly, there is "accepting other suitable employment". Is that limited to suitable employment offered by the British electricity industry, be it in England or in Scotland? What does it mean? This is important.

Then, we get the all-saving grace of paragraph (g), which refers to all the other circumstances of his case". It would not be wrong to ask what this means. I suppose it means nothing unless related to a particular case, but I think that it will be agreed that it is rather wide. Personally, I would question a condition of such vagueness when so much depends upon it for the individual.

I could say a lot more about this, but will resist the temptation, although I hope that we shall be told something by the Joint Under Secretary of State. I hope that he will appreciate that when presenting these important Regulations he ought to try to explain what they mean, because they are not in very simple form or language.

There is only one other point I wish to make. Admittedly, these are draft Regulations, but I notice that they are signed by somebody who styles himself "One of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State". I presume that that is the Secretary of State for Scotland; but below that there appears "Minister of Power", although there is no signature. I thought that we had got rid of that gentleman under the terms of the 1954 Act and that, in relation to the employment and supervision of personnel in Scotland, the person to whom we had to address questions was the Secretary of State.

Now we appear to have this joint control, and I should like to discover from one or the other who is responsible for the delay which has occurred. Is it the Secretary of State for Scotland, or the Minister of Power, or a bit of each? Will future Regulations, arising by way of some amendment to these Regulations, be presented by the Secretary of State from the purely Scottish aspect?

I understood that we were to have purely Tartan electricity and that the Minister of Power was to be out of the picture. Is his being there the reason for the quite unexplained delay in bringing these Regulations before the House?

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)

Perhaps it would be appropriate if I said a word or two now to enable the Parliamentary Secretary to tie up all the answers to the questions together. Obviously, we shall give these Regulations our approval, because under the circumstances in which we deal with Regulations in the House it is not possible to alter particular parts of them even if we want to.

We are dealing with Regulations that provide for three things—loss of employment, diminution of emoluments or pension rights, and those people whose positions are worsened as a result of the passing of the Act. It is right presumably, as Parliament decided in the Act which compels those responsible for the electricity industry to make certain changes, that Parliament should decide the kind of compensation that should be paid, although in the case of the mining industry we never do that.

The redundancy agreement was made as a purely commercial matter and as a matter of industrial relations between those working in the industry and those who manage the industry. There is something in what my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) has said, that perhaps when we are looking at this kind of thing again we might be ready to give some wide discretionary power to the Minister to authorise or approve an agreement that might be reached between both sides of the industry in relation to all these three matters and remove the detailed discussions from the scene of the Parliamentary debate. Had there been a large number of people involved, I think one would have wanted to spend some time in dealing with the various procedures to be adopted and with the amounts of compensation.

I was particularly struck by the fact that these Regulations are based largely on the 1949 Regulations, which is ten years ago—a lot of change has taken place in our ideas in ten years—and on subsequent Regulations that have been made under comparable Acts of this House.

I have been concerned with that part of the Regulations dealing with resettlement compensation. I do not want to make heavy weather of this, and if I did not believe that there were only a comparatively few people, if any, involved I would be inclined to want us to have a very long debate on it.

I come back to what has been said before on both sides of this House about those people who are 50 years of age and over, who find it very difficult to get fresh jobs if the job which they have been doing all their lives is taken away from them. I should have thought that to talk of resettlement compensation for 13 weeks for such people, and for 26 weeks for claimants over 45 years of age, was a bit thick. I should have thought that we might have been much more generous with the over-45s or the over-50s who have not been able to find alternative work.

It is no part of the Regulations to place people on a pension for the rest of their lives merely because for the time being they are no longer able to follow their normal occupation by reason of the Act of Parliament. As was emphasised earlier from these benches, employment is much more important than compensation. I should have thought that, particularly where a man is 50 or over, the period of resettlement might be considerably longer than is laid down in these Regulations.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, therefore, what is to happen to the man who is of such an age, who has found it very difficult to get a new job and, in fact, is not able to get a satisfactory job. Will he be compelled to take any job, in accordance with the Regulations in the terms which have been read, or is there somewhere within the Regulations provision for opportunity being afforded to an individual of that character to have a longer period so that he is not forced into the kind of work which would be just a nightmare to him? I myself do not consider that 26 weeks would be a reasonable time for a man over 50 who had spent all his life in one kind of work. Will he be given reasonable time and help from the Ministry of Labour to find a job for which he would be fitted?

This is very important. We are considering here men whose jobs are at stake not because of anything that they themselves have done, not because of misdemeanour on their part, or because they are inefficient or incompetent, but simply because we have decided, by an Act of Parliament, that we shall devise fresh methods of organising a particular industry, in this case the electricity industry.

I have no doubt that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power will probably know the Regulations backwards and will be able to point to some other part of the Regulations and show that men who have reached this age and who find it very difficult to get another job in their own particular line will be provided for. It is important that they should be resettled in a job which is reasonable and fair to them. They must not be just thrown on one side at the end of 26 weeks. Anything which the hon. Gentleman can say about that will be well received by us on this side of the House, although the Regulations, as far as we are concerned, will go through unimpeded.

11.22 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Sir Ian Horobin)

At this late hour, the House will not wish me to take a great deal of time, but I want to say a word or two about the various points which have been made. First, I should like to say, for my part, that the Ministry of Power and the Scottish Office are very grateful for the cooperative and sensible spirit in which these Regulations have been negotiated.

I will begin by agreeing—it is a sort of blanket explanation of much that has been said—that, mercifully, very few people will be affected. This has meant that we have had a reasonable time to conduct negotiations, without feeling that it was desperately necessary to settle something because there was a large queue of people in need. On the other hand, of course, as the provision about ten years for making a claim shows, it is quite possible that people will still be affected, one here and one there. Unfortunately, we have to try to cover every possibility. One cannot know where the odd man will be or whether he will be damnified in one way or another.

The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) paid me a compliment in saying that I knew the Regulations backwards. I will reply by saying that I think there are some parts of them which would read more simply if one did read them backwards. They are appallingly complicated, like most things which lawyers produce in trying to provide for the rights of many people in a lot of hypothetical circumstances, which may not arise for years.

Nevertheless, it is right to say—this, again, is a sort of blanket explanation—that nine-tenths, or even ninety-nine hundredths, of these Regulations are common form. I shall come to the question of how far we ought to follow precedent, but in almost every provision they follow well-established principles and wording which have, by and large, worked very well hitherto. That covers, in outline, the point which was made about the conditions which were to be taken into account in considering long-term compensation.

These provisions have worked fairly well. There is an appeal to the tribunal. I am advised that this form of words in the Scottish Regulations—for practical purposes it is the same in the English Regulations—has not caused difficulty in corresponding Regulations in other industries or in previous Regulations governing the electricity industry.

Coming back to the numbers affected in Scotland, the number is small partly because the South of Scotland Electricity Board has made great endeavours to secure that no one has suffered. I do not think that this ought to be made a subject of criticism. It is a tribute to the way in which, aided, of course, by the fact that it is an expanding industry, the matter has been arranged. It has worked out fairly well. In any particular case—and this deals with the point raised by the right hon. Member for Blyth, whether there might be a dispute as to whether a man really had tried to secure alternative employment—it is a matter for the Board; but in a disputed case the man can go to the tribunal, and, so far as I know, no difficulties have arisen.

So I think that the real point comes back to the criticisms or reservations made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer), who knows so much about these things. However, I think he would agree that there must be a qualifying period. He would probably agree that there must be some provision for sickness, and I think that, on the whole, he would agree that there must be some period of limitation after which claims cannot be made. These are like the points we had on the Nuclear Installations (Licensing and Insurance) Bill; it is a question of whether ten years would be right in a certain case and eight years would be right in another and three years in another case and six months would be right in another case.

On that, I would put this to the hon. Gentleman. It is true that we cannot go on for ever saying that because that was done in 1947 or 1949, therefore it cannot be altered. Of course, it is quite a tricky business to alter the common form because all these compensation provisions are interlocking. They interlock with the terms of the superannuation scheme. They interlock with similar provisions in other industries.

I would put it to the hon. Gentleman that, for the very reason that in this case we are dealing with so few people, this is not the appropriate occasion for altering settled Governmental policy, as followed by Governments formed from both sides of the House, as I think the hon. Gentleman himself put it. If we were now considering a case which would clearly affect large numbers of people then it might be—I am not saying what the decision of the House would be—it might be an appropriate occasion, on such Regulations, to take a look at these settled principles. Clearly, they cannot be altered frequently without considering their implications in other industries.

I would suggest, for the very reasons which the hon. Gentleman gave, and while admitting at once that there are some reservations on the part of the trade unions on the correctness of the actual figures here, that we must have some figure. These figures have worked fairly well. They are not likely in this case to affect many people. This is, therefore, I would suggest, not the appropriate occasion to embark on some alteration of settled policy.

But now, to sweeten that point of view, with which, I hope, right hon and hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree, my noble Friend would be prepared, to look into the question of the geographical limits over which a man can be called to accept other employment. Without giving any promise in the matter I would be prepared to explore with the Electricity Council whether it would be possible in some way to meet the point which the hon. Gentleman put in the admittedly extreme case, that a man who had been employed at John o'Groats might be suddenly told to accept a job at band's End, or vice versa. I see a Scottish Member about to rise. I hasten to add that the same thing would apply the other way round.

Without giving any firm promise, I will look into that matter. Obviously, it does not involve altering the Regulations, which we cannot do. With that offer to see whether we can meet at this last stage one of the points made by the hon. Member for Cleveland, I think that, on balance, both sides of the House will think that the sooner these Regulations are made and forgotten the better.

Mr. Ross

Having displayed his geographical strong point, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to tell us what the Minister of Power has to do with the Scottish Regulations?

Sir I. Horobin

The short answer, I think, is that we are dealing in these Regulations with things which can happen on transfer from one situation to another, and under the Act the Minister of Power was responsible for employment. Therefore, so to speak, the Minister of Power was concerned with the original conditions and the Secretary of State is concerned with the new conditions. Both signatures go, but I do not think that it will make a pennyworth of difference to the amount of money which anyone gets.

Mr. T. Fraser

The hon. Gentleman said that the sooner these Regulations are made and forgotten the better. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) would have disagreed with the desirability of forgetting about them. I do not think that the Minister told us in his speech why the Scottish Regulations have not been made until now. I can understand that it took two years to make the English Regulations after the 1957 Act, but why has it taken five years to make the Scottish Regulations? Was any consideration given to the matter by the Scottish Office before the English Act was passed in 1957?

Sir I. Horobin

I understand that the answer to that is "Yes." I am advised—of course, this is outside my Department—that negotiations started before the English Act. Why it has taken so long to negotiate the Scottish Regulations, I do not know, but I am glad that the negotiations have been successful in the long run.

Mr. Palmer

I raised a point with the hon. Gentleman which is of some concern to the trade unions. It is the curious difference in wording between the 1949 Regulations and the present Regulations. I was hoping that the hon. Gentleman would give us some kind of explanation of that.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman just told my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) that the Scottish Regulations were outside his Department. My whole point is that they are not. The Minister of Power has to append his signature. How can the hon. Gentleman justify it in one case and, two minutes later, say that they are outside his Department?

Sir I. Horobin

I am not quite clear what is upsetting the hon. Gentleman. Putting it at its lowest, why will it hurt anybody if two people rather than one sign a bit of paper? I do not quite understand why the hon. Gentleman is so worried about it.

Mr. Ross

If two people sign it, they take responsibility for what is in it. If they take responsibility, they must equally take responsibility for the delay. When we inquire about the delay, the hon. Gentleman says, "It is outside my Department." If it is, then his Department should not sign it.

Sir I. Horobin

I think that the hon. Gentleman is being a little unreasonable. I merely said that it was outside my Department. I could only give him the answer as I am advised, and I am advised that the negotiations in the Scottish case began before the English Act.

Obviously, it is a governmental responsibility. The Government are one, at any rate on this side of the House. The reason that the Ministry of Power is concerned in the matter is, as I endeavoured to explain, that prior to that Act the Minister of Power was responsible as the employer, as it were. Therefore, the two Ministers are joined together and both will sign, but no one will get either more or less as a result of the signatures.

I pointed out that when these negotiations started, my Department was not concerned with them, but I am advised that they started before the English Act. On the point of the difference of wording, I am advised again that this is a purely legal point and that the effect of the two sets of words is precisely the same.

Mr. Palmer

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Electricity (Staff Compensation) Regulations, 1959, a draft of which was laid before this House on 8th July, be approved.

South of Scotland Electricity Board (Staff Compensation) Regulations, 1959 [draft laid before the House, 7th July], approved.—[Mr. N. Macpherson.]