HC Deb 24 February 1960 vol 618 cc425-7
Mr. Godber

I beg to move, in page 8, line 16, at the end to add: (2) The Council shall not exercise its functions under paragraph (f) of the foregoing subsection except after consultation with a committee appointed by the Council and consisting of—

  1. (a) five persons being members of the Council,
  2. (b) five persons appointed, after consultation with any bodies appearing to the Council to represent wholesale-market authorities, as representing such authorities,
  3. (c) such number of other persons as the Council may determine,
and the expenses of the committee (including the cost of such allowances to its members, not being members of the Council, as the Ministers may with the approval of the Treasury determine) shall be defrayed by the Council. The purpose of this Amendment is to implement an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend in Standing Committee to set up a committee on wholesale markets, and the personnel of the committee is set out. It will be seen that five members are to be members of the Council. We felt it important that some of the members should also be members of the Council. Another five members are to be appointed after consultation, and we provide for additional members as well.

We think that this can be a very useful committee, and we were grateful for the suggestion that led to my right hon. Friend's undertaking. The committee could prove of very real help in any problems particularly pertaining to wholesale markets, and the Amendment should, therefore, receive a ready welcome on both sides of the House.

Mr. Darling

We are very grateful indeed to the Parliamentary Secretary for this Amendment. As he has said, it was suggested from our side in Standing Committee. The idea was readily accepted by the Minister, but I ought to say that this present proposal is very much better than our suggestion of putting on the Horticultural Marketing Council representatives of the marketing authorities.

Paragraph (f) of Clause 10 deals with the lay-out of markets and the marketing facilities and the Amendment imposes on the Council the duty to consult the market authorities. To provide in this way for formal consultation is, I am sure it will be agreed, the best way of getting the two sides to work together. In the general improvement of marketing facilities, the actual physical difficulties of the present wholesale fruit and vegetable markets should be borne in mind. As the Runciman Committee—and, indeed, other investigating bodies—has pointed out, many of our provincial markets are in a shocking state, and are quite inadequate for the purpose for which they were set up. They are old-fashioned and they have not proper storage facilities, transport facilities, and the like.

I speak as a representative of the City of Sheffield which, I understand, is the first local authority since the war to set about building a fine new wholesale market.

Mr. Godber

The second.

Mr. Darling

Yes, but not on the scale on which Sheffield is doing the job. The House should appreciate the enormous cost of building markets of the size and type that the Sheffield City Council is building, and if a local authority is to engage in such expenditure it should not be cut away from any association with the Horticultural Marketing Council. Therefore, as I say, we welcome the Amendment.

There is only one question that I should like to ask the Minister. Obviously one is not sure at this stage whether this is the right constitution for an advisory committee, whether it should consist of five, four or seven members. A lot may depend on the attitude of the Association of Municipal Corporations, and on the number of new fruit and vegetable markets which are set up in the next few years.

I wonder whether in the composition of this committee the saving subsection (6) of Clause 9 will also apply. If the Association of Municipal Corporations and the Horticultural Marketing Council were to say to the Minister, "We should like to alter the constitution of the Council", would the Minister's power to arrange for the alteration to be made also apply in this case? However, I am not pressing that matter—it can be dealt with in the course of time—but it might clear up a small point which might be raised in discussions with the local authorities. Otherwise, as I say, we are grateful for the way in which the Minister has carried out the promise that he made to us in Standing Committee.

Mr. Godber

If I may reply to that question, I am afraid the answer is no; subsection (6) of Clause 9 does not cover the specific point. I would, however, draw to the hon. Member's attention the proposed new subsection in this Amendment, and if he looks at paragraph (c) he will find that the words are very wide indeed— such number of other persons as the Council may determine. That safeguards the position.

Amendment agreed to.