HC Deb 24 February 1960 vol 618 cc416-25
Mr. J. Hare

I beg to move, in page 6, line 21, to leave out lines 21 to 23 and to insert: have special knowledge or experience which will be of value in the exercise of the Council's functions. As it stands, this Clause would enable me to appoint an independent member of the Council only if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I were satisfied that the man or woman concerned had appropriate financial, commercial, technical, scientific or administrative experience. It was pointed out during our discussions in Committee that this might prevent us from appointing someone who could give valuable assistance to the Council but could not be brought within the meaning of one or other of the adjectives I have mentioned. For example, we might not be able to appoint someone whose sole qualification was a thorough knowledge of consumer demand, even though the council might press us to do so.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) was characteristically helpful on this question. He suggested that the selection of independent members should be left entirely to my discretion, without any requirement about qualifications being included in the Bill That was very complimentary to me, but I do not think it would be right for me to go quite so far as he suggested. It appears to me right for Parliament to tell Ministers that the independent members must have some special suitability for this very important task. What that special suitability should be might well be left to us.

I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that what I am here proposing is what he suggested that I should do. It leaves the Ministers free to make the best selection from a field which is open to everyone with special knowledge or experience which would be useful to the Council.

Mr. Oram

Since this Amendment is moved in response to an Amendment I moved in Committee, I should be grateful for what the Minister is doing. As he has said, the right hon. Gentleman is taking the line which was indicated to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). But I have some reservations. I claimed during the Committee stage discussions that the wording as originally drafted was too narrow to have the meaning which I desired. I wanted a special reference to knowledge of the needs of the consumer. But the proposed wording has gone almost too far, and is so wide and general as to have no real meaning.

It ought to have been possible quite simply to write in a qualification in addition to those at present standing in the Bill. We could have written in some such words as "special knowledge of consumer requirements". There are precedents for this in earlier legislation, and there ought not to be any difficulty about it. We hope that the Minister intends to appoint people of the kind I have in mind, namely, those who do not necessarily have financial or commercial qualifications but nevertheless have a thorough knowledge of the needs of the housewife. Perhaps it ought to be persons engaged in the organisation of consumers, or the educational work of consumer bodies, who would be specially qualified to help the Council from that point of view. If we can have an assurance from the Minister that it is his intention to appoint such people, or that he feels himself open to do so, the Amendment would meet with my reluctant approval.

Mr. Hare

I am not prepared to give any such undertaking. I have tried to assist the hon. Member. I have not gone as far as I was asked to go by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), and in the light of what the hon. Member has said I am rather doubtful whether I should have moved at all. I am not prepared to give the undertaking for which the hon. Member asks.

Mr. Peart

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not be touchy about this point. He has conceded part of the argument. On the other hand, I wish he could have gone further. My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) is right in wishing that we could have got the word "consumer" into the Bill. The Minister could appoint a person who had experience in the fields mentioned by my hon. Friend, as has been done in previous legislation. I know that in the case of various bodies dealing with marketing it has been the practice of the Ministry to appoint individuals who have a specific connection with consumers and consumer organisations. I do not know why the Parliamentary Secretary should treat this matter so lightly.

Mr. Godber

I am not.

Mr. Peart

I thought he was. I should have thought he would be convinced by the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South. I am glad that the Minister has gone so far and has had second thoughts, recognising that there must be a wider definition. He has gone much further than we thought he would have done, and in that sense we welcome the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Oram

I beg to move, in page 6, line 31, at the end to insert: and shall include members of co-operative societies This point was also previously raised in Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) put forward an Amendment in favour of the specific inclusion of representatives of co-operative societies. This was a recommendation of the Runciman Committee and, since the main lines of the Bill follow that Committee's recommendations, we feel that its point of view on this matter should have been more closely followed.

The various paragraphs in the Clause indicate the various interests involved in the industry. Producers, wholesalers, and importers are separately indicated because they represent identifiably different interests engaged in the industry. I submit that a co-operative society, either on the producer or the retailer side, is also a different entity and is entitled to be included as a category different from the privately-owned organisations. The main purpose of the Bill is to encourage the setting up of co-operative associations, and it therefore seems important that they should be specifically included in the list of people to be represented on the Council.

Mr. Darling

I support the Amendment. It is not asking for special consideration for the representatives of co-operative retail societies alone. If the Amendment were accepted, all other retail interests would be eligible to be included. My support for the Amendment arises from the remarks made by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary in Committee. I then asked him whether he could give an undertaking that no important retailing interests would be unrepresented on the Council. It seemed a proper request to make, and one that could easily have been agreed to. If the Parliamentary Secretary had said, "No important retailing interest will be unrepresented", we would not have pursued the matter further. That would have covered the co-operative case and also small private traders, supermarkets and chain stores.

As the Bill stands, without any qualification or undertaking from the Minister or the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, the retailing interests to be represented on the Council could be drawn only from the supermarkets and chain stores. The small private greengrocers—the chaps with the corner shops—would have no representation. We have not said specifically that the chain stores, supermarkets, multiple shops, co-operative societies and private traders should all be represented. The Amendment merely provides that the representation shall include members of co-operative societies. The House would probably agree that if the Amendment were accepted it would safeguard the position of co-operative interests, who need to be represented for the reasons given by my hon. Friend.

It would also make quite certain that the other important elements in the retailing section of horticulture would not be unrepresented on the Council, and I hope that on this occasion the Minister or the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will give us the assurance that we failed to get in Committee.

Mr. J. Hare

We had a lot of discussion on this matter in Committee. I appreciate the anxiety of hon. Members opposite to obtain representation for the co-operative movement in the retail section of the Council, but I nevertheless must ask the House to reject the Amendment. In the Bill we have provided for representation of each of the main interests in the industry, and I do not think that we can make special provision for representing all the many different sections of the industry without extending the membership of the Council to such an extent as to make it completely unwieldy.

The Amendment singles out one important sectional interest but, as hon. Members opposite have said, there are other sections of the industry which are also of considerable importance. If we provide specific representation for co-operative retail societies there is a strong argument for similar action on behalf of florists, super-market proprietors, chain stores and, for that matter, ordinary greengrocers. I do not want to be thought unreasonable, and I should like to go as far as I can to meet hon. Members opposite. I can give them the categorical assurance that my hon. Friend and I will consult the representatives of the co-operative movement on the retail side before appointing the members of the Council. I hope that the hon. Member will be good enough to consider withdrawing the Amendment in the light of what I have said.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his assurance, but I wonder whether he can go a little further and give us a categorical assurance that members of co-operative societies will be represented on the Council.

Mr. Hare

Whenever I go a little way to meet him the hon. Member tries to make me go a little further. I know this is his duty, but I think he would agree that I have gone a long way in the assurance that I have given.

Mr. Willey

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's assurance, but for the life of me I cannot understand why he cannot give the further assurance for which I have asked. The position of co-operative societies is a special one because, as we said in Committee, the Runciman Report said that organisations representing the wholesale or retail co-operative societies, among those representing respectively wholesalers and retailers, would be members of the Council. For that reason, I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman cannot go further.

As we said in Committee and have said again today, we could have understood the right hon. Gentleman if he had said that this would mean making provision for representation of the

multiples, the small retailers and the co-operatives. But we are not faced with that position. In Committee the Joint Parliamentary Secretary refused to give us an assurance that co-operative societies would be represented on the Council. The right hon. Gentleman, when replying to my hon. Friend, said that this might mean making florists and all kinds of other people members of the Council, but that is begging the question, as is his assurance that there will be consultation.

I should have thought that he could have given a categorical assurance that if we are to have seven people representing the interests of retailers, among those seven would be a representative of the co-operative societies. Unless we receive that assurance we shall be driven to take the same course that we were unfortunately driven to take in Committee, and divide the House. This is regrettable. The right hon. Gentleman would be the last person in the world to deny the co-operation which his Department has received from co-operative societies, multiples and private traders, but he will not commit himself to take the course which the Runciman Committee recommended and tell us that co-operative societies will be represented, and we shall therefore have to divide the House once again.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 178, Noes 211.

Division No. 43.] AYES [5.57 p.m.
Ainsley, William Crosland, Anthony Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Darling, George Gourlay, Harry
Awbery, Stan Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Greenwood, Anthony
Bacon, Miss Alice Davies, Harold (Leek) Grey, Charles
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Grimond, J.
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) de Freitas, Geoffrey Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Benson, Sir George Delargy, Hugh Hamilton, William (West Fife)
Blackburn, F. Dempsey, James Hart, Mrs. Judith
Blyton, William Diamond, John Hayman, F. H.
Boardman, H. Dodds, Norman Healey, Denis
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.) Donnelly, Desmond Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Herbison, Miss Margaret
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hill, J. (Midlothian)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Hilton, A. V.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Evans, Albert Holman, Percy
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Fernyhough, E. Holt, Arthur
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Fitch, Alan Houghton, Douglas
Callaghan, James Fletcher, Eric Hoy, James H.
Carmichael, James Forman, J. C. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Chapman, Donald Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Hunter, A. E.
Chetwynd, George George, Lady Megan Lloyd Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Cliffe, Michael Ginsburg, David Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gooch, E. G. Irving, Sydney (Dartford)
Janner, Barnett Noel-Baker-Francis (Swindon) Stones, William
Jeger, George Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Oliver, G. H. Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Oram, A. E. Swingler, Stephen
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Owen, Will Sylvester, George
Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Pavitt, Laurence Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Kenyon, Clifford Peart, Frederick Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Pentland, Norman Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
King, Dr. Horace Plummer, Sir Leslie Thorpe, Jeremy
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Prentice, R. E. Timmons, John
Lipton, Marcus Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Logan, David Proctor, W. T. Wade, Donald
Loughlin, Charles Randall, Harry Wainwright, Edwin
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rankin, John Warbey, William
McCann, John Redhead, E. C. Watkins, Tudor
McInnes, James Reynolds, G. W. Weitzman, David
McKay, John (Wallsend) Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Mackie, John Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wheeldon, W. E.
McLeavy, Frank Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) White, Mrs. Eirene
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.) Wilkins, W. A.
Mahon, Simon Ross, William Willey, Frederick
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Manuel, A. C. Short, Edward Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)
Mapp, Charles Silverman, Julius (Aston) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Mason, Roy Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Mayhew, Christopher Skeffington, Arthur Winterbottom, R. E.
Mellish, R. J. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mendelson, J. J. Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Woof, Robert
Millan, Bruce Small, William Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Mitchison, G. R. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Zilliacus, K.
Moody, A. S. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Mulley, Frederick Spriggs, Leslie TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Neal, Harold Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Mr. Probert and Mr. Lawson.
Aitken, W. T. Duncan, Sir James Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Allason, James Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Jackson, John
Arbuthnot, John Eden, John James, David
Ashton, Sir Hubert Elliott, R. W. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Balniel, Lord Emery, Peter Jennings, J. C.
Barlow, Sir John Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Batsford, Brian Errington, Sir Eric Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Erroll, F. J. Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.) Farey-Jones, F. W. Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Fell, Anthony Kershaw, Anthony
Berkeley, Humphry Finlay, Graeme Kirk, Peter
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kitson, Timothy
Bishop, F. P. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Leavey, J. A.
Box, Donald Freeth, Denzil Leburn, Gilmour
Boyle, Sir Edward Gammans, Lady Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.
Brewis, John George, J. C. (Pollok) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Brooman-White, R. Gibson-Watt, David Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.) Lilley, F. J. P.
Bryan, Paul Godber, J. B. Litchfield, Capt. John
Bullard, Denys Goodhart, Philip Longbottom, Charles
Burden, F. A. Goodhew, Victor Longden, Gilbert
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Gower, Raymond Loveys, Walter H.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside) Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Green, Alan MacArthur, Ian
Cary, Sir Robert Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) McLaren, Martin
Channon, H. P. G. Hare, Rt. Hon. John Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Chichester-Clark, R. Harrison, Brian (Maldon) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Cleaver, Leonard Harvie Anderson, Miss McMaster, Stanley
Cole, Norman Henderson, John (Cathcart) Madden, Martin
Collard, Richard Hendry, Forbes Maginnis, John E.
Corfield, F. V. Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Costain, A. P. Hiley, Joseph Marten, Neil
Coulson, J. M. Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Mathew, Robert (Honiton)
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Mawby, Ray
Critchley, Julian Hopkins, Alan Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Curran, Charles Hornby, R. P. Mills, Stratton
Currie, G. B. H. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Montgomery, Fergus
Dance, James Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Morgan, William
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Morrison, John
Deedes, W. F. Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
de Ferranti, Basil Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Noble, Michael
Digby, Simon Wingfield Hughes-Young, Michael Nugent, Sir Richard
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hulbert, Sir Norman Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.
Doughty, Charles Hurd, Sir Anthony Osborn, John (Hallam)
Drayson, G. B. Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, Graham
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Tweedsmuir, Lady
Partridge, E. Russell, Ronald van Straubenzee, W. R.
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Scott-Hopkins, James Vane, W. M. F.
Peel, John Shepherd, William Vickers, Miss Joan
Percival, Ian Simon, Sir Jocelyn Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Peyton, John Skeet, T. H. H. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Smithers, Peter Wall, Patrick
Pike, Miss Mervyn Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)
Pitman, I. J. Speir, Rupert Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Pitt, Miss Edith Stodart, J. A. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Pott, Percivall Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Watts, James
Powell, J. Enoch Studholme, Sir Henry Webster, David
Price, David (Eastleigh) Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Whitelaw, William
Prior, J. M. L. Teeling, William Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Temple, John M. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Proudfoot, Wilfred Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Rawlinson, Peter Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Woodhouse, C. M.
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Woodnutt, Mark
Rees, Hugh Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin Woollam, John
Renton, David Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.) Worsley, Marcus
Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Robertson, Sir David Turner, Colin TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roots, William Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Mr. Sharples.