HC Deb 11 May 1960 vol 623 cc531-78

9.5 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960. No. 762), dated 27th April, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th April, be annulled.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to speak to all three Motions, namely, in addition, the Motions That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Control of Hiring Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960, No. 763), dated 27th April, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th April, be annulled. and That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Control of Hiring (Rebates) Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960, No. 764), dated 27th April, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th April, be annulled. and have a vote on each?

Mr. Jay

If that is agreeable to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it will be convenient to us.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think that it would be convenient for the House to take all three Motions together.

Mr. Jay

My right hon. Friends and I have put down this Prayer tonight against the Government's new hire-purchase restrictions because we do not believe that the House should let these restrictive Orders pass without some protest against the rather opportunist and cynical fashion in which the economic policy of the Government is being conducted at present. If there is really no connection at all between the rather sudden plunges from restriction to expansion and then from expansion to restriction in the Government's policy, on the one hand, and the dates of General Elections on the other, I must say that the coincidence has been rather remarkable over recent years.

In 1955 we had an election following a Budget of largesse in May, followed by the Home Secretary's famous restrictive Budget in October. This time we had an election in October and we have a bout of new restrictions now in May, just six months later in either case between the electoral largesse, on the one hand, and the hang-over on the other. The coincidence is rather striking. I hope that it does not mean that British industry must go through another three years or so of stagnation before we have an expansionist move a few months before some future election. I know that the Government do not use the word "hang-over". The fashionable word is "overstrain" to describe the malady from which we are now supposed to be suffering, but I think that the meaning is very much the same.

I know that the President of the Board of Trade is in the habit of asking us on this side of the House whether we think restraint unnecessary now or that expansion was unnecessary a year ago. Our answer is that the expansion should have come earlier, in the earlier months of 1958 and not in the earlier months of 1959. Looking back over this story now, it is perfectly obvious that the 1959 Budget should have come in the spring of 1958 when the stagnation in our economy was just as intense and when, incidentally, the overseas prospect was a good deal easier. But the Chancellor refused to do in the spring of 1958 what the national welfare demanded. He was perfectly ready to do it in the spring of 1959 when it suited the electoral convenience of the party opposite —and in opportunism the present Chancellor has very little to learn from the Home Secretary.

However, having now got the country into economic difficulties again, no doubt some restraint must be applied. We would not deny that. In asking the Government to consider whether the Orders now before us are the right sort or restraint, the House might well recall what the Radcliffe Committee on the Working of the Monetary System, benefiting incidentally by the Home Secretary's misfortunes in 1955, had to say about this business of controlling hire purchase. The Radcliffe Committee thought, first of all, that when a Government resorted to these emergency restrictions, as it called them, a pause—that means a pause in the Government's rake's progress—ought to be enforced by what the Committee called an "established convention" which might or might not have legislative expression. It said that … the imposition of the emergency controls . should be made the occasion for a debate in Parliament. We have at least the authority of the Committee in initiating this debate tonight. Then Lord Radcliffe and his colleagues said: We name these three as the channels to be controlled in emergency … bank advances, capital issues and consumer credit … The Committee defined emergencies against which these weapons should be used, in its opinion, as either a catastrophic slump or a headlong inflation—and even the threat of headlong inflation was to be regarded as an emergency—and went on to recommend the Chancellor to do what he is now doing.

I am intrigued to see that these three Orders contain the word "emergency". There, at any rate, the President of the Board of Trade is in harmony with the Radcliffe Committee. Nevertheless, I am surprised to find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade are afraid of headlong inflation at this stage. The language of the Budget speech a month ago did not sound quite as gloomy as that. That is the type of emergency for which the Radcliffe Committee recommended this particular medicine.

So impartial a Committee as that would never have called the situation "post-electoral hang-over" or anything of that kind. I know that the Chancellor likes to use the word "overstrain" at the moment to describe the disease from which we are suffering. One of the difficulties of this particular treatment for overstrain, that is to say, a sudden stepping-up of hire-purchase restrictions, is that one hits rather hard, every few months, particular industries, mainly engineering in the present case.

These industries are expected—and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) will agree that this affects the motor vehicle industry—to step up production at a great rate and then to damp it down. The President may say that it does not matter at the moment in the case of the motor vehicle industry because there is a booming export demand. I hope that he is quite sure that there will be no unfortunate consequences on the motor expansions on Merseyside and in the North which we all want to see.

Is he quite sure that no damage will be done to any other industries, like furniture and household equipment, which have not so large and thriving an export trade? The Radcliffe Committee said on this point that as a result of the sudden use of hire-purchase restrictions, certain industries had become what it called "residuary legatees" in the economy and it was apropos of this point that it used these famous words: This is no gentle hand on the steering wheel which keeps a well-driven car on the road. The Chancellor may argue that these restrictions are so moderate that they will not have any effect at all. I noticed that at Question Time yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade defended some of the banking restrictions on the ground that they would not really produce any effect on anything. If that is the Government's argument I do not know what all the fuss is about. If they are to have some effect and if we are to hit, rather hard and suddenly, particular industries, I find the Government's priorities, as exemplified in the principal Order, rather hard to understand.

Will the President of the Board of Trade explain why a down payment of only 10 per cent. is required for jewellery, whereas one of 20 per cent. is required for refrigerators and sewing machines? Does this mean that the Government regard refrigerators as less necessary than jewellery? Why should there be a 10 per cent. down payment for domesic cookers, and a 20 per cent. payment for washing and drying machines? I cannot understand that. Further, there is a 20 per cent. payment for dishwashers and a 10 per cent. payment for sink units, baths and basins. What is the economic, social, financial or even political reason for these apparently subtle distinctions?

Now that these Orders are before the House, now that the hire-purchase debt has risen to over £900 million, and the principle of some sort of public regulation of hire purchase is admitted, by the very existence of the Orders, I wonder whether the Government should not be taking rather more responsibility for protecting the consumer and purchaser of hire-purchase goods against the minority of rather dubious and rapacious firms which seem to have jumped on the band wagon of the hire-purchase boom in the past two years. On the whole it is the poorer and, very often, the less legally and financially expert purchaser who buys his household equipment on hire purchase, and there is a good deal of evidence that some of the old scandals in this matter are continuing, despite recent legislation.

I should like to mention some of the rates of interest which are now being charged. We all know what happens. A potential unwary purchaser is told that the rate of interest is 7 per cent., 10 per cent., or whatever it may be, but this very often does not allow for the fact that the price is partly reduced by the initial deposit and that the debt diminishes steadily over the period of repayment. Can the right hon. Gentleman deny that in this way interest rates as high as 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. are still being charged by hire-purchase companies, very often to people of small means and very little knowledge of what is going on?

Some city firms—generally the smaller ones—are openly advertising and offering 7 per cent. to the public for deposits for funds which they say will be used for what they call industrial finance. I am advised by connoisseurs of this sort of thing that that amounts to hire-purchase trading. One is bound to point out that if these firms can offer 7 per cent. to depositors they must be taking a good deal from their customers, even after paying their own expenses.

I should like to give the right hon. Gentleman particulars of a case which has been brought to my attention. A bicycle was offered for sale for £22 10s. cash or £27 9s. by easy payments—in other words, hire purchase. If the purchaser bought the bicycle by easy payments he paid a deposit of £3, followed by £24 9s. paid back over two years. That meant that he paid approximately £8 in interest or £4 a year. Allowing for the diminution of the debt over that period, the rate of interest appears to work out at about 33⅓ per cent. When my informant protested he was told that bicycles were always sold in that way nowadays and that the dealer could do nothing about it.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

Nobody seeks to deny that these practices exist. I think every hon. Member will agree that they are extortionate and much higher than moneylending rates. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no attempt has been made to control interest rates on hire-purchase transactions, and that his Government between 1945 and 1951 made no such attempt? Is he now advocating that that should be done?

Mr. Jay

The hon. Gentleman probably knows better than I that the Moneylenders Acts which set some maximum limits to some rates of interest in certain cases are still on the Statute Book. I was proposing to suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that he might consider whether there should be some legislative maximum for rates of interest charged in hire-purchase cases. That is a suggestion at which we ought to look when we are controlling hire purchase in these Orders.

That is not the only sort of abuse for which there is evidence at the present time. There are also cases, of which particulars have been given to me, where innocent people, in spite of existing legislation, are invited at the doorstep to make a down payment, to sign a legal document and to wait for the goods to turn up. In one instance brought to my notice the result was the arrival of a television set which was extremely old and which did not work. When the purchaser tried to get in touch with the firm he found that nobody was to be found at the address in question.

In two other cases a charming individual—and the same phrase was used in both cases—called at the house and by the time he had left the unfortunate housewife had been induced to sign a contract which she entirely failed to understand, but which it was afterwards discovered imposed a very heavy debt on her and her husband. Yet there is nothing in the Orders which we are discussing tonight which will do anything to correct any abuse of that kind.

Do not the Government think that some more protection is necessary when this kind of thing is going on? After all, since 1938 this House has recognised the need for some legislation to protect the customer in the case of hire purchase. Tonight we are giving approval, or not giving approval, to three new Orders involving Government regulation, and this House passed the Advertisement (Hire Purchase) Act, 1957, which was supposed to correct some of the admitted abuses. It is clear, however, that that Act, although it was published as recently as 1957, does not cover all the trouble. Incidentally, my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) showed this very clearly in a speech in this House on 15th July last when he described the practice of a certain Scottish company which had succeeded in getting round the provisions of that Act.

Is the President of the Board of Trade sure that in the matter of hire-purchase advertising the 1957 Act is being effectively enforced? How many prosecutions have been started under that Act since it was passed in 1957?

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

I supported that Bill when it was introduced. I do not know how many prosecutions have or have not been undertaken under that Act, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that it has had a most salutary effect. It has led to a number of trade associations warning their members that if they went into this illicit practice they would be in trouble. The Act has had excellent effects.

Mr. Jay

This afternoon I read the hon. Gentleman's speech in which he supported the Bill, and I am glad to hear that the Act has had some effect, but it still remains true that the President of the Board of Trade has frequently in the last two years been asked how many prosecutions have been brought under that Act, and I have not been able to discover that he has given any convincing answer.

In view of the evidence that comes to one, it does not seem that even now the Government are doing anything like enough to protect the consumer from the more dubious members of this trade. I should have thought that, at a time when all the big banks have found it necessary themselves to go into hire-purchase finance, the President of the Board of Trade would find that many reputable firms would welcome action to clear up and clean up some of the things which are going on. There are undoubtedly reputable hire-purchase firms in the City of London which would like some of these abuses to be corrected

If I may take the intervention of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) as a text, why not have legislation setting a maximum at least on the rate of interest charged in hire-purchase deals?

Mr. Nabarro rose

Mr. Speaker

I can see that the debate may wander wider than I should allow. I like listening to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and to the interventions in his speech, but I have some difficulty in seeing how in the discussion of these three Orders we can get into the realm of the necessity for other legislation. I should like to be assisted about that.

Mr. Jay

I see the difficulty, but I was led—

Mr. Nabarro

With respect, Mr. Speaker, you were not in the Chair when I intervened on this matter. I did not recommend legislation to deal with interest rates on hire-purchase transactions. I drew attention to the impossibility of enforcing any control of interest rates in hire-purchase transactions and the fact that the party opposite never sought to do so because of that very administrative impossibility.

Mr. Speaker

I think that the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is under a misapprehension. It is my duty to keep the debate within order. My complaint was basically against the right hon. Gentleman, but I had to include the hon. Member because he got involved in it.

Mr. Nabarro

I am always sticking my neck out.

Mr. Jay

What led me on was the intervention by the hon. Member for Kidderminster before you had returned to the Chamber, Mr. Speaker. I agree that it could be argued whether such legislation is or is not workable, but clearly we cannot argue that this evening. I fully agree that it was I who made the suggestion and not the hon. Member for Kidderminster.

I cannot help reflecting that it was very largely the hire-purchase boom of the last two years which provided a good deal of such substance as there was in the Government's electioneering claim that we had all never had it so good. A few months before the election, that hire-purchase boom was stimulated. Incidentally, some of the biggest Tory votes were in the areas where firms were manufacturing hire-purchase goods, partticularly in the motor industry.

Now the Government tell us that this hire-purchase trading has to be squeezed once again, as it was in 1957. If the President of the Board of Trade wants us to believe that all these reversals of policy have been purely matters of economics and have absolutely nothing to do with politics, perhaps he will tell us what the response of the electorate would have been if these Orders had been introduced not this spring but in September of last year.

9.29 p.m.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

I rise to support the three Orders and I hope that I shall not be obliged to follow in close detail the fascinating remarks of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) about the general economic position today. I do not believe that these Orders are in any way associated with a thought on the part of my right hon. Friends, or any Government supporters, that we are in a state of headlong inflation, to quote the right hon. Gentleman.

I define my attitude within the context of these Orders as being a general supporter of hire purchase, but with appropriate regulation as to the amount of the deposit and the length of time for repayment. I deprecate absolutely the less reputable hire-purchase transactions, involving the payment of no deposit and an indefinite period of as much as ten years for repayment. I think that those less than reputable practices have tended to bring hire-purchase arrangements into disrepute and prey upon poorer families, and notably families where the purchaser, be it the father or mother or any other member of the family, is a little less discerning and discriminating in the matter of precise contracts than he or she ought to be.

What I dislike about our hire-purchase arrangements—and this is emphasised by the character of the three Orders before the House this evening—is the constant change of Government policy. I do not address these remarks to my right hon. Friend with any political content; I do so much more in a commercial spirit. For many years, following the accession of a Conservative Government in 1951, we have had limited hire-purchase restrictions. They were eased, then removed before the last General Election, and they have now been reimposed.

It would be impossible for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to say how long the reimposition will last, but what I want to impress upon him, as being the Cabinet Minister responsible for trade and industry in this country, is that the constant removal of restrictions, reimposition of restrictions, off one minute and on the next, without any sort of indication to the House of Commons and the nation as to how long restrictions of this kind are to last, has a very unsettling and disturbing effect upon the pattern of industry and commerce. It has a still more damaging influence on large-scale production.

If my right hon. Friend cares to scrutinise in close detail the goods which are specified in the principle Order we are discussing, Statutory Instrument No. 762, the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Order, he will see that the great majority of the articles concerned are those produced in our factories on a bulk or mass production basis where the largeness of the production has a material effect and bearing upon the unit cost of output. Thus, the constant disturbance caused by altering—

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

A jolly good line.

Mr. Nabarro

I am grateful to the hon. Member; it is a jolly good line.

My right hon. Friend need not take my word as a politician on a matter of this kind. He should consult the Institute of Production Engineers, for example, as being the best professional body in this country dealing with a matter of this kind, who will tell him beyond a peradventure that if we constantly bring artificial influences to bear in the form of Statutory Instruments on the length of credit which might be allowed for an article as expensive as a refrigerator, of which the average cost may be between £70 and £100, the cost of production must suffer due to the uncertainties following in the train of the Order.

Therefore, I say to the President of the Board of Trade that, while I support these three Instruments this evening, I want careful consideration to be given by the Government to permanent legislation on hire-purchase matters in two respects; first, the amount per centum of the deposit; and, secondly, the maximum period for repayment. I should have no hesitation in saying that the proper deposit for a person to pay for any article, from a three-piece bedroom suite to a motor vehicle, is 20 per cent. If the person cannot afford to pay 20 per cent., let him go away, do without the article for a few months, and save up the deposit so that it is 20 per cent.

I say that a maximum time for repayment on any article should be two years. [Interruption.] I am sorry that my hon. Friend disagrees with me, but I say that it should be two years. That is the impression I have gained, if I may say so with due modesty, through wide commercial experience, which my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) does not possess, though he may have considerable legal experience, which is a different matter.

What I am saying is that if a person cannot afford to save the 20 per cent. for a deposit, he should deny himself the article for a few months until he has saved the 20 per cent. There should also be a maximum repayment period, in my view, of two years, because I think that after that period the dangers of depreciation or deterioration of the article outweigh the advantages of a hire-purchase transaction.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

Does not my hon. Friend think that there are cases in which his proposal would be unfair? For example, a person who lives in a residential caravan is purchasing a home, and surely he needs a longer period than two years. For the person who buys a house the period for the mortgage is twenty years

Mr. Nabarro

With respect to those who like to live in caravans, I depre- cate, in the social sense, turning caravans into permanent homes. I quite agree that a few people do it, but I am not prepared to seek to legislate for a tiny minority.

Caravans may be an exceptional case, but hard cases invariably make bad law, and in the overwhelming majority of cases a 20 per cent. deposit and a two-year repayment period is, in my opinion, appropriate. To avoid the continual disturbance to trade and industry by the on-and-off of this ministerial hiccoughing of which my right hon. Friend is guilty, this sort of dyspepsia manifesting itself on the Ministerial Bench, he should consider permanent legislation along the lines which I have suggested.

There are other aspects of the principal Order which I wish to probe. Since hire-purchase restrictions were last removed we have a new manifestation in the economy in the form of the personal loan schemes of the banks. One is now encouraged to go to a joint stock bank and borow any sum of money on a personal account to buy an article of equipment; it may be a motor car, it may be a refrigerator, it may be a bedroom suite, or it may be a caravan if the bank manager takes a view opposite to my own about caravans. It may be any one of a large number of articles. The bank gives the customer an overdraft and it gives him many years in which to repay it.

Is that a hire-purchase transaction within the context of this Order? Is it? My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade shakes his head to give me a negative. That is exactly what I wanted him to do. Indeed, I never ask him a question without first knowing the answer. I tested these matters, and my right hon. Friend has given the very answer which I wanted to be brought out.

There are two methods of hire-purchase transaction in this country today. One is through the personal loan schemes of the banks, which is a hire-purchase arrangement. The other is in the form of the transactions dealt with in this Order. But here is the unfairness: the banks' schemes are excluded from this Order, and, therefore, the banks are given a preference as compared with a hire-purchase house.

I am not allowed to talk about what is outside the Order, but I merely bring out this point as a contradistinction, and I underline the unfairness of this situation as it exists today, because in the last few weeks my right hon. Friend has taken two measures in connection with hire purchase, directly or indirectly. One is the set of Orders before the House tonight. The other is to require the banks to deposit 32 per cent. instead of 30 per cent. with the Rank of England. Did my right hon. Friend have his eye on hire purchase there? Does the hire-purchase debt of over £900 million take into account loans by banks for hire-purchase purposes? Again, I know the answer, but why does it not? The hire-purchase loan figure rose by £31 million last month.

If we are to legislate for hire purchase, and if the Government accept the principle Chat it is desirable to legislate for hire purchase, for goodness' sake let us do the job properly and not piecemeal and by half measures, because that is what we are doing this evening. Let my Conservative colleagues make no mistake about this. We are legislating for hire purchase through hire-purchase houses and retail shops, but we are not legislating for the alternative method which involves a customer of a bank obtaining an overdraft. There is a further—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I have duties in this matter. It is perfectly clear that in a discussion of an Order of this kind the discussion of alternative methods of stopping a parallel kind of transaction is out of order. The hon. Member knows this. I hope that he will not pursue it.

Mr. Jay

Further to that point of Order, Sir. Presumably it is in order to point out what is not in these Orders.

Mr. Speaker

No, I do not think so. It is in order to point out an omission from the Order in the context of the Order, but not in parallel fields.

Mr. Nabarro

I am very sorry, Mr. Speaker, to have allowed the exuberance of my oratory to run away with me. I had no intention of doing so. I was trying to demonstrate to the House the inequity of this Order.

I want to put to my right hon. Friend that two years is the general period and 20 per cent. is the general deposit. The buyer on a hire-purchase contract referred to in the Order has to pay substantial sums in interest. He cannot claim the interest as a rebate of his Income Tax. If he borrows the money from a bank, he can. That is a further inequity to which attention should be drawn.

In other words, this Order is only partially efficacious and hon. Members on both sides of the House would do well to recognise that if we favour regulation in respect of hire purchase we should attempt to make our arrangements comprehensive and not discriminatory in character in favour of one section of banking and trade and against another section of banking and trade.

I turn now to specific cases in the Order. This is very important. We are all concerned today with the level of coal stocks, and I shall at once relate this to the Order. Hon. Members will have observed that Part I of the First Schedule to Statutory Instrument No. 762 refers to: Space heating installations and appliances of a kind designed exclusively or mainly for domestic use, and parts thereof. The minimum percentage of cash deposit required is 20. The maximum period for repayment quoted in the Order is 24 months. Many of these space heating installations and appliances burn solid fuel.

Item No. 18 is: Cookers, including solid fuel cookers, designed exclusively or mainly for domestic use. There the deposit is only 10 per cent. and the period for repayment is 48 months. Why should a modern, solid-fuel-burning appliance for space heating, often combined with a cooker and a back boiler, be subject to alternative deposits, in one case 20 per cent. and in the other case 10 per cent., and to alternative repayment periods, in one case 24 months and in the other case 48 months?

I hope that the Board of Trade will not argue with me that the best modern solid-fuel-burning appliance for the home is one which combines space heating, water heating and cooking. It is all part of one article of equipment, yet it is subject to two rates and to alternative periods for repayment. I say to my right hon. Friend that he must take this Order back to his advisers and ask them to consider these points which, to say the least, are incongruous, especially in view of the interests of the National Coal Board.

The Sunday Express—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] A very good newspaper —on 8th May, on page 10—[Interruption.] Yes, I know that it accused me in its leading article a few weeks ago of cowardice, but I did not issue a writ against the newspaper on that account. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Why not? Because I think that politicians ought not to be mealy-mouthed. Last Sunday, the Sunday Express carried, on page 10, a large advertisement by the National Coal Board. It is instructive, and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade should immediately consider it.

The Coal Board, is, of course, responding magnificently to the pleas made from both sides of the House that, in competition with oil, it should make its selling policy for solid fuel much more dynamic. It has no better friend in this House than myself on that account. This series of advertisements is magnificent. This is what the Board advertised last Sunday: Plan now for a warm winter with the National Coal Board's help"— This is the advertisement. It is perfectly serious, it is a very good advertisement, and I compliment the Board on it. I shall hand it to my right hon. Friend in a moment, because it relates itself precisely to the Order. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if I have made a mistake. I shall lay it on the Table—or I shall leave it on the bench.

The advertisement says: The National Coal Board have arranged … to lend you the money. Terms are generous. No deposit. Only 5 per cent. a year interest. Two years to pay on loans of £20-£50. five years to pay on loans of over £50 These are solid-fuel appliances. They are central heating systems, back boilers, cookers for the home, yet this Order says —and I have quoted it already—that on all space heating appliances there will be a 20 per cent. deposit. The Coal Board says, "No deposit." The Order says that for space heating installations there will be 24 months in which to pay—the Coal Board says, "Five years to pay".

I am not attacking the Coal Board—I shall justify it in a moment. I do not attack the Coal Board, but I point out to my right hon. Friend that this advertisement appeared on 8th May, after this Order had been published. Mr. Speaker, you will see on the Order itself that it was made on 27th April. What is my right hon. Friend doing about enforcement? Does he propose to enforce these things? I do not want the Coal Board to be inhibited in putting in modern appliances. I do not want it to be inhibited. I want it to support my clean air legislation—[Laughter.] There is nothing to laugh at; it is a very serious matter. Furthermore, I want to encourage people to burn coal more efficiently.

The Board promises five years in which to pay, but the Order maximises the period either at two years, interpreted in one way, or four years interpreted in another. Here, however, is the nub of the matter—from whom does one buy the appliances? [An HON. MEMBER: "A flaw."] No, not a flaw but a nub, and a nub is different from a flaw. Who finances this? Does one buy these appliances from a retail shop or store? No, Mr. Speaker, it is financed by the Forward Trust, one of the Midland Bank Group. In other words, one law for the banks— no period for repayment, and no deposit; another law for the ordinary retailer in terms of the Order.

That is wholly faulty, discriminatory and equitable, and the President of the Board of Trade should now apply himself to this very important matter, for Parliament, if it does nothing else, should surely secure equitable treatment within the financial field for all agencies of every character in the support and financing of hire-purchase transactions.

Subject only to those few modest and relatively mild criticisms of my right hon. Friend, I will support these Orders in the Lobby, this evening, but I shall press him unremittingly—[An HON. MEMBER: "Press him tonight."] No, I cannot do so tonight. I should be out of order if I tried to do so. Mr. Speaker has already pointed that out to me. I shall press him unremittingly to do two things. First, to let us have permanent legislation, resting on a minimum 20 per cent. deposit and a maximum 24 months in which to repay for all hire-purchase transactions. Secondly, to see that when that legislation is passed it shall be applicable to all financial agencies responsible for hire-purchase transactions, whether they be banks or credit houses, or hire-purchase houses, retail shops, or stores. That is nothing less than equitable, in my view.

9.52 p.m

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

I am happy to say that I agree so much with what has been said by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). I am only sorry that he is not going to come with us tonight into the Lobby, for there is so much with which he disagrees in these Orders.

I have a difficulty, and I am sure the hon. Member for Kidderminster will be interested to know what it is. He has described two ways by which one can in effect buy articles on the instalment basis. I want to describe a third way, and I am anxious that the President of the Board of Trade will pay attention and tell me whether what I say is accurate.

What I want to describe is a matter that affects Scotland. I have yet to learn that it has developed to any considerable extent in England, but it certainly has become a widespread practice in Scotland and many thousands of people have been affected in this way over a number of years. Those people are what I would call hire-purchase customers. They go to a shop that anyone would take to be a hire-purchase shop and they think in terms of buying an article or articles on the hire-purchase system. I would say that the Orders that we have before us tonight are clearly designed to cover this kind of person and this kind of transaction. Yet, I put it to the President of the Board of Trade that this will not be the case.

There exists in Scotland a practice that escapes these Orders—not a system by which the banks extend credit, but a system that is called a personal credit scheme. It is not operated by the banks, and it does not operate on a basis of 5 per cent. interest. It is operated on a basis of 2 per cent. per month compound interest. It is a system that operates without any kind of deposit being made, and the payments can continue indefinitely. Indeed, they can continue beyond the grave because, as I could show hon. Members, the people who are called guarantors, who guarantee somebody else's purchase under this scheme, undertake—many of them quite unwittingly—that in the event of my liability not being determined prior to the death of the aforementioned or of any guarantor "— the aforementioned being the person who contracted the obligation— any sums due, whether becoming due prior to or after the death of the aforementioned or of any guarantor, shall transmit against the estate of the respective parties.

Mr. Speaker

I am very sorry to stop the hon. Gentleman. I hate to have to interrupt him, but I am obliged to confine the debate on the Order. We cannot treat it as a general discussion of methods in the hire-purchase trade.

Mr. Lawson

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I should like to put this to you. I am satisfied in my own mind that the President of the Board of Trade thinks that he is covering the kind of transaction to which I refer. The transactions are carried out in what everyone would think of as a hire-purchase shop. AD my hon. Friends from Scotland know this.

Mr. Speaker

That may be, but it does not put the matter in order.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I point out to you that, in Article 8 (2, ii) of the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Order, 1960, it is provided that: 'hire purchase agreement' means … in Scotland, a contract to which section 1 (a) of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932, applies or would apply if the limitation as to value contained in that section were omitted. Is not my hon. Friend entitled to inquire whether a contract commonly thought of as a hire-purchase agreement in Scotland is in fact such a contract as he has indicated?

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I have no doubt that his hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) also will be obliged.

Mr. Lawson

It is from that angle that I am trying to present the matter, Mr. Speaker.

We are confronted with great difficulties in Scotland as a result of these transactions, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look very closely into this type of case. I did on another occasion call these transactions substitute hire-purchase agreements. I am convinced, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will say that my conviction accords with his wish here, that he is trying to cover transactions of this type. The extent of them is very widespread indeed. Yet they have hitherto escaped the provisions of the hire-purchase laws because it is stated that each transaction is not a hire-purchase transaction. The matter has gone to the courts. It has been stated that the transaction is not a hire-purchase transaction and that the article or articles concerned have been bought outright.

On the basis of the transaction not being a hire-purchase transaction, there is no written document given and there is no clear enunciation of the amount of money which will have to be paid. There are none of the protections which should be given by our hire-purchase legislation. There is no protection, for instance, in respect of the type of advertisement appearing in the Press. This is the kind of practice which I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at. I want him to assure me that it will be covered.

The person or persons who purchase articles on the basis I have described do it under a system which does not give them the protection which the House of Commons has plainly intended that they should have. We in Scotland have sought ways to give people the protection which they plainly should have but which, as I have explained, they have not had under our hire-purchase legislation. We have thought that the Moneylenders Acts would cover the matter, and, indeed, only recently one case was brought before the courts on that basis.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That really must be hopeless, even on the ingenious argument of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering. The hon. Member really must keep off the Moneylenders Acts.

Mr. Lawson

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I take it that it is the intention that the Order should cover what we all have in mind as hire-purchase transactions or credit sales. I am not speaking of bankers' credits. I am speaking of what everyone, without going into the matter in great detail. would take to be a hire-purchase transaction or a credit deal. That, I would say, is certainly intended to be covered by these regulations.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling) indicated dissent.

Mr. Lawson

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. If the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to cover this type of transaction I should be very interested to hear why not.

Those are, in fact, hire-purchase transactions. They are hire-purchase transactions, although by means of a device, which I shall try to describe, they are intended to get round the Hire-Purchase Acts. The device is the simple one of giving the person who wants to buy an article a voucher for the loan of money which is called a personal credit voucher. It is this personal credit voucher which is handed over for the article. The article is bought by the medium of this voucher which enables the dealer to get round the law as it is at present by saying that it is not a hire-purchase deal, that it is a transaction by means of personal credit, not given by a bank but given by the firm itself. In this way, right up to the present, this type of device has grown up. One firm which I could mention boasted last year of having about 80,000 open accounts.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that the hon. Member can tell us about the firm. I am sorry; I really sincerely dislike having to stop him, but this debate may wander over a very wide and irregular field unless I do. I am sure that he is entitled to ask whether a certain type of transaction is one within the meaning of the Order. That I understand. But I am sure that he is not allowed to describe, in this context, the extent of that particular transaction, or methods which he and his hon. Friends have attempted to set a check upon that which they regard as a malpractice.

Mr. Lawson

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I shall shortly describe the transactions I have in mind and ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will tell us whether or not these will be covered.

A customer or potential customer wants to buy a television set. He goes to this shop and says, "I want to buy a set. What do I need to put down?" He is told, "You do not need to put anything down". In point of fact, it is advertised as "No deposit". "Our personal credit scheme is the best way you can do it. We only charge 2 per cent. a month."

Many people do not understand what that means. It is 2 per cent. a month at compound interest. The customer is told, "We cannot take the goods back from you. This is far better than the ordinary hire purchase". The person signs, gets someone else as guarantor and gets the article right away, without having to pay a deposit. Week by week a certain sum is paid and month by month the interest is added to the balance outstanding. If there is any difficulty at all he is taken to the courts.

Here is a transaction by which a person has come to buy an article on the instalment basis and who gets a voucher which enables him to get the article right away. He is not the partial owner of the article; he is the sole owner of the article. He is in debt to the extent of a certain sum of money plus the interest added month by month. On this basis, it is not a normal hire-purchase transaction.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this type of transaction is covered and, if so, how it is covered in the Statutory Instruments which he is putting before us. If it is not covered, I can assure him that a very large number of people will continue to obtain these articles and that a very considerable number of dealers in Scotland are evading the law.

10.5 p.m.

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

Although a number of irrelevant points have been introduced in the debate, I think that the Opposition are trying to ask the House to annul these Statutory Instruments and to vote against them. I assume that they are panting to vote on them.

I do not think that the House can quarrel with the hire-purchase restrictions outlined in these Statutory Instruments. I take the view that anyone who wants to buy a television, radio or motor car ought to pay a 20 per cent. deposit. That is reasonable and I think that most reputable hire-purchase companies expect their customers to do that.

I do not, however, quite subscribe to what my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said, although I know that it is a well publicised point of view that hire-purchase restrictions should not be put on and taken off by Governments as quickly as they are. They are not put on and off as quickly as many people think. In my view, hire-purchase restrictions are a weapon of Government against potential inflation which should and can be used from time to time. They are easy to apply. They are applied in other countries, like America, quite frequently, and I do not think that they should be a weapon to be afraid of.

My purpose in rising is to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, when he is considering amendments to the Statutory Instruments, to the case of residential caravanners. They are subject to a 10 per cent. deposit with 24 months to pay. That means that a person who is buying a caravan to live in—there are people doing that at present—and who, in the past, has been paying, over three or even four years, about £20 a month, is now asked to pay £30 a month for his caravan. A rise from £5 a week to over £7 a week is quite substantial.

When one compares a caravan as a home, although a temporary home, with a house that can be bought on mortgage over twenty years, there is a special case for treating residential caravans differently. Whether one is able legally to separate them from the mobile caravans, I am not sure, but I think that the point that I have raised should receive further thought by the Board of Trade. Subject to that small criticism, I think that these three Statutory Instruments ought to receive the approval of the House.

10.8 p.m.

Mr. John Cronin (Loughborough)

The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) probably carried the good opinions of both sides of the House when he expressed some criticism of the constant changes of Government policy on hire purchase.

Mr. Gresham Cooke


Mr. Cronin

That was the impression the hon Member gave the House, and I thought that he was very well supported by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro).

Mr. Nabarro rose

Mr. Gresham Cooke

If the hon. Member had listened—he was, I think, asleep at the time—he would have realised that I said exactly the opposite. I said that it was a weapon that could be used by the Government.

Mr. Cronin

I was listening to the hon. Member with the greatest possible attention. It is clear that there is some new meaning to his speech that must have escaped me.

I would give full approbation to the view of the hon. Member for Kidderminster—

Mr. Nabarro

That is better.

Mr. Cronin

—when he expressed severe criticism of the Government's changes of policy. We have a most odd situation. Whenever there is an increase in production, there is automatically an increase in curbs on production. It is not as though this country has a particularly good record in this matter. We are not doing nearly as well as other countries in Western Europe, and our record is quite derisory compared with those of the Soviet Union and China. It is rather unfortunate that most of the economic machine under Conservative Governments has been running irregularly. Either the brakes are burning or the radiator is boiling over. It has never worked smoothly.

All of us on both sides of the House appreciate the economic difficulties with which the Government are faced—overfull order books, increases in imports and balance of payments difficulties. It is obvious that something had to be done, but I should like to know the reason for this curious timing. It was plain last year that these economic difficulties were imminent and would occur this year. The President of the Board of Trade may smile, but he will agree that the hire-purchase debt had reached an all-time record last year. There was a tremendous boom in the motor industry, which is the industry chiefly affected by the Order. One wonders why the Order was not introduced last year if the Government consider it efficacious.

Obviously, the purpose was entirely electoral advantage. There can be no escape from the fact that in elections the Government have always behaved with a Machiavellian cynicism which must earn the reprobation of everyone who thinks about these matters carefully.

I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will answer a few questions when he replies. I should like to know why it was necessary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make dark hints in his Budget speech and why there was this period of uncertainty before these hire-purchase Orders were announced. Nothing but confusion and difficulty has been caused in industry. People did not know where they stood. Are we to continue to have economic legislation by hints and pregnant silences?

Will the President of the Board of Trade also give us rather more detail in his assessment of the economic situation which makes these Orders necessary? To what extent does he expect the total hire-purchase debt to be decreased by these Orders? To what extent does he think that it should be decreased? I hope that he will answer the question put to him by the hon. Member for Kidderminster: what will be the effect on personal loans from the joint stock banks? The President of the Board of Trade should tell us more of the generalised effects of these Orders on the economy as a whole. How will they affect areas where there is considerable unemployment? This is a serious matter and the House should have specific reassurances.

Certain industries are going through great difficulties, for instance, coal and shipbuilding, which is in a considerable state of recession. The oil and chemical industries are reducing their capital commitments. It is no use the President of the Board of Trade looking puzzled. The steel industry does not intend to expand as much as it announced originally, and industries which are making heavy capital goods are in considerable difficulty. How will they be affected by these Orders? I know that they do not apply to capital goods, but capital goods are affected by consumer goods.

The Orders are undesirable because the effect could have been achieved by other means. I do not propose to dilate on those other means, because that would be out of order. Surely, however, consumer consumption could have been attacked by measures to deal with the enormous boom, for instance, in Stock Exchange securities. There is an increase of £2,000 million in the value of securities, an enormous increase of consumer consumption. Something should have been done to deal with business expenses. They cause enormous consumption.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

That goes beyond the Order.

Mr. Cronin

I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I was merely adverting to those small points en passant. I was careful not to dilate on them, because these are matters on which one could speak for a long time. If we want to keep in order, which is, perhaps, desirable in a debate of this nature, perhaps we should refer to the individual items of the Order. I wonder why there has been this savage attack on the housewife. We know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a bachelor, but we thought that the President of the Board of Trade might have had some restraining effect upon him. Hon. Members on both sides of the House know that housewives are perhaps the hardest-working members of the community.

Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)

My hon. Friend is apparently suggesting that more restraint ought to have been laid on the Chancellor. Could he say what particular housewife the Chancellor made a savage attack upon?

Mr. Cronin

I think that my hon. Friend did not hear me well. I did not suggest that the Chancellor attacked any specific housewife. I used the word in the plural—housewives. [An HON. MEMBER: " Bigamy now."] I am sure that all hon. Members have too much respect for the Chancellor's character to think for a moment of the imputation suggested by my hon. Friend.

Why are housewives to be the principal recipients of the hardships brought about by this Order? We know that they have these heavy burdens of keeping house, bringing up children and doing the cooking, and there has been little alleviation for them except by means of mechanical domestic appliances. These are the only rays of comfort which have entered the housewife's activities during the last few years. The difficulty about domestic appliances is that they cost quite a lot of money, and the only helpful factor has been hire-purchase, but the housewife has now been deprived of this.

I am sure that the President of the Board of Trade is aware that washing laundry is a very heavy tax on the housewife's strength and her temper. He and most hon. Members must know what a heavy burden washday is in the home without an automatic washing machine and what a heavy burden ironing is without an electric iron.

Mr. Nabarro

And motoring without a Rolls-Bentley.

Mr. Cronin

That intervention is wearing thin. We have heard it before.

Mr. Nabarro

But it is a jolly good one.

Mr. Cronin

How does the housewife get on without floor polishers? Do the Chancellor and the President of the Board of Trade expect her to get on her hands and knees to polish the floor? Why deprive housewives of electric carpet cleaners? Have they to get down on their knees and sweep the carpet? These are matters which affect the most deserving members of the community. We know that refrigerators are one of the principal ways of avoiding waste of food, and that half our food is imported. Refrigerators also prevent ill-health, and food poisoning is one of the most common causes of ill-health in this country.

Why has the President of the Board of Trade made this attack on newly married people? Why are they to have these difficulties in obtaining furniture? It is a very heavy burden to be obliged to pay for one's furniture in two years, although that may not be obvious to the hon. Members opposite. These are heavy burdens which are being imposed on a section of the community which deserves our support and sympathy. Anyone who appreciates the difficulties of the housewife and of young married people and, indeed, of everybody in this country except those of the upper income group should enter the Division Lobby with us on this side of the House this evening without hesitation.

10.19 p.m.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

I shall not detain the House as long as the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) has done, but I feel that I ought to make one or two critical comments on these Orders. In doing this, I am not unmindful of the extreme difficulty which any Government face when they try to contain the economy at a level which is pretty near the top. I would not pretend to say that the Government have no justification for these Orders, but there are some criticisms of the Orders and of the principle behind them which I should like to make briefly.

My own conviction is that the control of hire purchase has singularly little effect upon the total volume of demand, and my further criticism, which is perhaps even more to the point, is that it is, in effect, on one or two industries and can be exceedingly upsetting to them.

I am president of a chair-frame manufacturers' association, and, with my members, I have been through the ups and downs of hire-purchase restrictions being lifted and imposed and have seen what effect it has. Despite the fact that there may well be a case for using this instrument in the absence of any really well-proven methods of control in the existing economic circumstances, I doubt whether on balance the total amount of disturbance that these Orders will create justifies the economic advantage to the community.

I believe that there is a case permanently to set a minimum deposit for the purchase of various classes of goods. The community might well be advantaged if the Government did that. In many trades, certainly before the war and to some extent since, we have had goods sold not because they are goods but because they are goods sold on terms. That is very bad for any country. I would not be against the maintenance of a minimum level of deposits in respect of various classes of goods. Most people who want to serve the community in trade and industry would, on the whole, welcome such a provision.

If one accepts this concept, it negates the possibility of doing what the Government have been doing in the past five or six years. If I were to be asked where I think the balance of advantage lies, I would say that it lies definitely in maintaining a permanent minimum level of deposits in order to safeguard the trades against violent fluctuations and the public against exploitation.

I shall vote for these Orders tonight with some regret, because I appreciate that we are faced in the post-war period, like almost every country, with the problem of containing the economy almost at the top of the brim without having the proven means of so containing it. I am, therefore, prepared in these circumstances to vote for the Orders, though I shall do so with some reluctance.

10.24 p.m.

Mr. John Diamond (Gloucester)

I can think of scarcely one sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) with which I did not profoundly agree, but there is perhaps one side remark which he made which I cannot accept, and that is that he is to vote for the three Instruments.

It is a good deal easier for us in the Opposition to carry the argument to its logical conclusion, but it is far more important than making party points to draw the attention of the Government to the real lack of feeling on both sides that these Orders are the right thing at the right time. There is a sense of unease that this is the right way either of curing inflation or of encouraging production or consumer demand. I want to ask one question and then offer three short arguments against the Orders.

First, I should like to know whether I am right in saying that the Control of Hiring Order has the prejudicial effect of preventing Members of Parliament who are fighting election campaigns from hiring loud-speakers if they wish to do so for a period of more than twelve days. Assuming that most of us campaign for at least fourteen days, and generally for twenty-one, we shall all be denied the pleasure of hiring a loudspeaker We may have to buy the wretched thing.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

All these restrictions will be off before the election.

Mr. Diamond

Such a thought had not entirely escaped me, and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to indicate how long he will maintain the Orders, and whether Members of Parliament will be affected in the way I have suggested.

I support the hon. Member for Cheadle. I very much doubt whether this action is justifiable on the grounds upon which the right hon. Gentleman will attempt to justify it—of controlling inflation at a time when consumer demand is pushing too hard. It affects only a small part of consumer demand. The fact that the banks themselves are encouraging borrowers to borrow in a fantastic and entirely unbanklike manner to meet their personal requirements, in addition to all the other credits open to many people, means that this action must be taken in its proper perspective. It leads to the conclusion that this is a very small part of the total borrowing and can hardly be sufficient to justify the claim that it will affect inflationary demand.

Both the hon. Member for Cheadle and the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) have said that these Orders will have a most prejudicial effect upon certain industries and production lines. They will inevitably cause increased costs through inefficient production, because the production lines will be over-full on some occasions, then under-occupied, and at other times running smoothly and efficiently. Anybody who is interested in the cost of production must know that the most damaging action which can be taken is to interrupt the free flow. I can only repeat what the two hon. Members opposite have said. They are substantial arguments against the Orders.

There are other reasons why I opposed the Orders. First, they make no provision for solving the problem of very harsh dealing. Many people find themselves at the receiving end of some very harsh hire-purchase deals. Having agreed to buy the goods, they find that they are subject to very harsh contracts, and there is nothing in the Orders which lightens their burden. The Government are not taking anything like a sufficiently serious view of that point. Further, the Government are encouraging borrow- ing far too much. I am probably the odd man out in this matter. I have a very simple view of it, which I have expressed previously. I take the view that people should not buy things until they have sufficient money to do so.

That is terribly simple and old-fashioned, and I well understand that there are certain durables—such as houses, which may be bought or rented —which are subject to similar arrangements but where the lending and repayment go on more or less in perpetuity, in respect of which this system may be justified on economic grounds, but ordinary articles, which are part of one's desire to make life more satisfactory or easy, in respect of which people are encouraged to borrow in all sorts of ways both by banks and by hire-purchase firms, should not be bought in this way.

I am justified in saying this because, although there is a general belief that most hire purchasers pay up, and therefore hire-purchase lenders are encouraged to go on lending, my information is that the law courts are becoming full of cases of sellers trying to recover their money from defaulting hire purchasers who have no vice in them but have been induced by salesmanship, charm and encouragement of one kind or another to take on commitments which are greater than they can afford, for the simple reason that they are no good at adding up their total commitments. Many of us are not all that good in adding up our total commitments, which is one of the reasons why a certain profession which I know has always a good deal to do.

However, I am referring simply to people being encouraged, on the doorstep and in the shop, to undertake far more weekly and monthly and quarterly commitments than they can well manage. Frankly, I see only one answer to this, and that is some form of discouraging hire purchase not only temporarily but for all time. I entirely agree with the hon. Member that there should be a minimum deposit for all time.

There is no argument against it. It discourages excessive spending. It makes it impossible for the Government to upset trading by increasing and decreasing deposits at will. I think there is every argument in favour of a minimum deposit, which I, of course, would put far higher than 20 per cent., though less than that, though substantial, on everything like a cooker which is part and parcel of the permanent and minimum equipment of a house.

In addition to a permanent deposit as a discouragement to hire-purchase buying, there ought to be some means— though I recognise the difficulty of it —of covering the weekly total commitments of the would-be hire-purchaser before he enters into yet a further hire-purchase transaction. The real difficulty is that the banks have no alternative method.

As the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said, there is no reason against having this additional method, no reason why the banks in their present ill-advised habit of lending to customers on personal account should not lend to the customers, the customers having said that they are proposing to do such and such and to buy such and such, and for the customers to buy the articles on hire purchase as hirers. Thus we get double borrowing, and thus we get a state of affairs in which the individual is encouraged, as I say, to get absolutely up to the neck in commitments of one kind and another which cannot be covered in the short space in which only he can foresee his income.

We must realise that there is a large section of the population which has, over many years, been adopting the habit of budgeting weekly. So much is earned each week; so much goes for the rent; so much goes for food; so much goes for insurance and old age. That is how the weekly budget is laid out. That means that among those who calculate in that way, when they are earning well, and earning overtime and are in a good job, the earnings which come in week by week are fully committed. Only the slightest recession in an industry is needed, it needs only overtime to be cancelled or the job to be lost for a few days or for a week or so—or, of course, for unemployment to arise—forthe most frightening difficulties to arise, which all of us know who have "surgeries" in our constituencies. Most of us have come across constituents in the most frantic difficulties of hire-purchase commitments because they have lost jobs or overtime, even temporarily.

I can see only one answer to that problem, and that is some form of accumulating total indebtedness, the total commitments of the would-be borrower, before he is permitted to borrow yet more. I deeply deprecate that the banks, which should act in a responsible manner, are so solely concerned with competing with one another to gain customers that they ignore their responsibility. It is because these Orders do not touch what is the very real problem, of which one can see the results in the law courts, that I am proposing to vote against them.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

From what he said towards the end of his speech, I would have thought that the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) was strongly in favour of the Orders. He said that he did not much like hire purchase and would prefer to do without it. Here he has a series of Orders which are at least likely to make the prospective purchaser think a little longer before embarking on a hire-purchase contract.

Mr. Diamond

That is not enough.

Mr. Gower

That may be, but the logical result of what the hon. Member said is that he should vote for the Orders.

I think that the House will wholly reject the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) that the main motive for the changes in hire-purchase rates, as in some other things, has been political and electoral. That is an argument quite unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman.

He will recall perfectly well that, about a year before the last election, he and his right hon. and hon. Friends were pressing the Government not merely to sustain but to increase the purchasing power which Government policy had succeeded in obtaining during the preceding twelve months. Indeed, all the pressure from hon. Members opposite during those twelve months was to increase the level of consumer expenditure. In part, the Government followed that course because the economic needs of the country at the time demanded that kind of policy.

The right hon. Gentleman also professed himself surprised that under a Conservative Government there was sometimes a time when there was inflationary pressure while at other times the danger was of a different kind. He was surprised that the economy did not always run on an even keel. That is a very remarkable statement coming from one who was Financial Secretary to the Treasury in a Government who were calculated to produce a first-class financial crisis every eighteen months or so. We on this side of the House admit that in a country whose economy is as finely balanced as ours it is not susprising that at times there should be inflationary tendencies while at other times the tendencies will be different.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) that this is a weapon which should be used because it is flexible and can easily be applied. On the other hand, turning to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who spoke from his great commercial experience, to which he referred with such restraint, and with his quite extraordinary diffidence, surprisingly enough, despite his great commercial experience, he seemed to regard himself as incapable of any misjudgment of any situation and incapable of any mistake. In spite of his experience, I still disagree with him to some extent.

However, I accept and agree with his view that it is desirable that there should be some minimum deposit in hire-purchase contracts, and I think that that deposit should be fairly substantial and not derisory. I accept, too, that there should be a specified period for repayment. But I feel that he was too inflexible and too rigid in prescribing such a code. In some cases, two years may still well be a suitable period for repayment, while for heavier goods and exceptional goods—for instance, the caravans to which my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham and I have referred previously—another period might be more suitable.

In future, we should try to have a permanent minimum deposit on certain kinds of articles, while in other cases there should be a different deposit and a different time for repayment. This is not the kind of thing, however, which can be hastily conceived.

I certainly subscribe to the view that the time for repayment should not be excessive. I subscribe to the view that a person contemplating a hire-purchase contract should at least be able to produce a substantial deposit. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster will not think it unreasonable if I take a view slightly different from the rigid code which he wanted to apply. The arguments we have heard from hon. Members opposite, including those of the right hon. Gentleman, should lead to the support of hon. Members opposite for the Orders. They have made it perfectly clear that they think that at present consumer credit is a little too easy and that in some cases people are led into hire-purchase transactions without due thought. Therefore, they should have no doubt about supporting the three Orders.

10.40 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I will not detain the House for many minutes at this late hour. I support the Prayers to annul these Statutory Instruments, for the many reasons adduced by my hon. Friends. But there is one specific question I wish to ask the President of the Board of Trade. I hope that he will be able to give me a clear reply.

My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) raised a matter which is of the greatest importance to many people in Scotland. The specific question I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman is this. Will the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Order cover the firm about which he has a great deal of information, a firm which we consider to be most disreputable in its tradings in Scotland? Will the Order cover the trading of that firm?

If the answer is "No," and it does not cover the trading activities of this firm, does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the very passing of this Order will drive more and more people in Scotland away from the more reputable firms that all of us trust into the hands of this most shockingly disreputable firm? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that every weekend I —and I am sure other hon. Gentlemen representing Scottish constituencies— have constituents coming to me because of their very great worry about what is happening in their dealings with this firm? Does he know that this firm gets over—

Hon. Members: Which firm?

Miss Herbison

The name has been given time and time again in this House. The name is quite definitely Napier's. I have no hesitation in giving the name, because every week ordinary decent people are taken to the courts of Scotland by this firm. The charges are 2 per cent. per month. If it takes three years to pay whatever is obtained from this firm, my constituents and the constituents of other hon. Gentlemen representing Scottish constituencies have to pay 100 per cent. interest on the cash price.

We on this side feel very strongly about that. If the right hon. Gentleman says that this firm's type of trading is not covered by the Order, he must accept the responsibility for driving more and more people into the hands of this disreputable firm and away from the more reputable firms in Scotland.

10.43 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

We have had a wide ranging debate on these Orders. I think that it would be fair to say that public opinion has understood and accepted the need for the Orders. In listening to the many vigorous arguments advanced in the House, I am still a little at a loss to understand why anyone should vote against them.

They are limited, but they are limited for one very special reason. The power the Board of Trade has to make these Orders is limited by the Emergency Laws (Repeal) Act, 1959, paragraph 1 (b) of the First Schedule of which says that we can by Order provide for imposing in respect of the disposal, acquisition or possession of articles of any description under hire-purchase agreements or credit-sale agreements, or under agreements for letting on hire, such prohibitions and restrictions as appear … to be required for restricting excessive credit. Therefore, we have the power to act only for the purpose of restricting excessive credit and only in the case of hire-purchase agreements, credit sale agreements, or agreements for letting on hire. Therefore, while I listened with great interest, and will study what has been said by a number of hon. Members, starting with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) himself, about interest rates and other practices, they cannot come under the Order, and could not be covered, as far as I know, under the legislation from which the Orders derive. Therefore, as the Orders could not have contained such provisions, it is not a logical ground for voting against them that they do not contain something that the legislation does not permit them to contain, and I have read out the only powers we have to make such Orders.

That gives rise to certain difficulties. There is the problem that has been raised by two hon. Members opposite about certain activities in Scotland. I can only say that, as I have just read from the Statute, our powers are limited to hire-purchase agreements and credit sales agreements, and both are defined. A hire-purchase agreement involves the bailment of goods, and I would not have thought that the type of transaction referred to was a hire-purchase agreement.

Whether it was a credit-sale agreement I could not say without knowledge of the individual case. A credit-sale agreement is a contract of sale of goods under which the whole or part of the purchase is payable by instalments. If the contract refers to a particular article, or certain goods, and the money is payable in instalments, it might be covered by the Order, but it sounds to me as though the transactions referred to—and I must speak without prejudice, not having the details—are more in the nature of personal loans.

That is where we get into a realm of very great difficulty, indeed, because an unsecured personal loan is something that is exceedingly hard to control, and the more the matter is studied the more difficult it is to finding a way of limiting unsecured personal loans—or secured personal loans, for that matter—without interfering with the normal freedom of the individual to lend and to borrow money. That is the difficulty—

Mr. Mitchison

Perhaps, in answering my hon. Friends from Scotland about this Scottish matter, the right hon. Gentleman would use the Scottish rather than the English definition in his own Order.

Mr. Maudling

Yes, I have checked up—as I saw the hon. and learned Gentleman running through his book—that, in fact, the practice is the same. Although it may be expressed differently, I am told that the legal effect is the same.

Mr. Lawson

Could I suggest that if, in fact, the type of transaction we have described is not covered by the Orders, it is open to other hire-purchase firms to adopt this device and so escape altogether the intention of the Orders?

Mr. Maudling

I shall certainly consider what the hon. Gentleman says, but I must make the point that it is not in the Orders, and could not be in the Orders because they go to the extent of our powers. If something were done to cover transactions of another character, it would involve legislation. It would not be in order to discuss that, but perhaps I could say that legislation to cover secured or unsecured personal loans is an exceedingly difficult task on which to embark.

This, of course, is relevant to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) and others about personal loans given by the banks. Perhaps I could remain in order by saying that the difference is that one operates in the field of personal loans by restricting the amounts that the banks have available to lend, but it is not possible to deal with that in terms of an Order which deals in a different way with different forms of extension of credit. If I went beyond that, Mr. Speaker, I should be trespassing on your patience more than I should.

I must say that I find it difficult to understand the reasons advanced for objecting to Orders that impose certain minimum deposits and certain maximum periods of repayment. Apart from the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin), who made, I thought, a vigorous if somewhat peculiar speech, everyone else who has spoken has not only been in favour of the restrictions but has been rather inclined to say that they should be made permanent, and possibly even more stringent.

As I have explained, under our powers we cannot do that, because we can act only for the purpose of restricting excessive credit. It would involve legislation, but I cannot see why people whose only complaint is that our Orders do not last for ever should vote against them, just because they are on a temporary basis. Surely, temporary action is better than nothing at all.

Mr. Diamond

Is there anything to prevent the right hon. Gentleman from taking these Orders away and bringing in other Orders which are tougher?

Mr. Maudling

That is the point that I am making—I can introduce Orders only to restrict excessive credit. The point that the hon. Member has in mind is not that there is excessive credit but that it is socially wrong. That may or may not be right, but it cannot be done under the present powers.

Mr. Jay

If someone took the view that there always ought to be a down payment on social grounds, might it not be thought that there was excessive credit when there was no down payment?

Mr. Maudling

I think the phrase "excessive credit" must be taken to mean economically excessive and not socially excessive. I think that must be right.

As to the degree of effect on the economy, here again there seems to be some disagreement. Some argue, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that the effect would be very severe, and some people say, as the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) said, that the effect would be very little. The expansion of the hire-purchase debt last year was of the order of £300 million. It is a pretty large item in the economy. But the measures that we have introduced —the minima that we have prescribed and the lengths of payment that we have prescribed—are very much in line with the current practice of the better and more reputable traders.

I would not expect the effect of these Orders to be drastic in any particular field. It is not possible to give an assessment in mathematical terms of what would be the amount of reduction or possibly the amount of further increase of the hire-purchase debt in succeeding months. Certainly these measures will exercise a restraining influence, although I would not have thought more than that, and I hope very much—and I see no reason to suspect that this hope will be unjustified—that no industry will feel any severe effects.

Certainly in some cases that have been mentioned—for example, motor cars— there is scope for a substantial increase in export sales, since our manufacturers are having to quote long delivery dates at home and abroad because of the enormous expansion in demand. I think they are doing a magnificent job. They are exporting a very proper proportion of their present output. They can argue that as long as the motor car market in this country is so vigorous, the more they export the more that is imported to fill up the gap. So I think a certain restraining effect upon the motor car market will have a good effect on the balance of payments.

In the case of furniture, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, we have deliberately kept the deposit to a modest 10 per cent. I cannot help feeling that an industry that cannot build its prosperity on the basis of this degree of control is not a healthily-based industry. I do not believe that the effects of these Orders on the furniture industry should be in any way severe.

It has been said—and it has been rightly raised—that constant changes in these matters are difficult for industry. I think the number of changes that have been made in the past can possibly be exaggerated. But we must be realistic about this. Any Government would try to run its economy as close as it can possibly be run to the danger of inflation. We want the maximum production and output that we can have without going back to inflation and balance of payments difficulties. Therefore, we are always working on a very small margin indeed, and there will be constant need for watching out for possible adjustment in one direction or the other. It would be ideal from the point of view of productive industry for a steady level of demand to be guaranteed over a period, but that is not within the grasp of a country with our overseas trade commitments, and inadequate reserves and with all the difficulties there are in the international trade on which we depend.

A number of other points were raised. The point relating to caravans is interesting. We kept the deposit at 10 per cent. rather than raising it to 20 per cent. which I hope will be a help, but I will certainly study what hon. Members said on that matter and keep it in mind.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend deal with the fascinating point about the National Coal Board?

Mr. Maudling

If my hon. Friend will give me time, I will. My hon. Friend made the point, if I understood him, that all hire-purchase transactions should be on the basis of at least a 20 per cent. deposit, and there should be no more than 24 months for payment. Then he seemed to be arguing the case of coal-fired appliances and saying that that should not apply there. As for the advertisements by the National Coal Board, of course, I cannot comment on them without looking at them. Obviously these Orders apply to the nationalised industries just as to any other person.

I think that my hon. Friend had better study both the Order and the advertisement, because, although he tells us that he always knows the answer to the question before he asks it, on this occasion he failed to provide us with an answer.

Mr. Nabarro

I told my right hon. Friend the answer. He is being a little less than just. I told him the answer and he listened to it with great care. In fact, the Coal Board is financing these arrangements through a trust, a subsidiary of a bank. That is in effect a hire-purchase transaction, but an evasion of what we are now discussing. I instanced it on the ground that it was quite inequitable that there should be two different methods, one controlled and one uncontrolled.

Mr. Maudling

Yes, I have dealt with that. I think the point my hon. Friend was raising was directed to whether these Orders were being evaded by the National Coal Board. To that, I do not think he gave an answer.

I think I have covered most of the points. Frankly, I do not know about the hiring of a loud-speaker by the hon. Member for Gloucester. I think the limitation in the Order is a maximum of 12 days in a period of 28 days. But, by putting two twelves together, one might make it up to 24, which would be enough even for the hon. Gentleman's campaign, I think. I hope I shall not be quoted on that in a court of law, if the occasion arises.

Mr. Jay

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the point about discrimination between 10 per cent. in the case of jewellery and 20 per cent. in the case of refrigerators, and other instances which both the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) and I raised?

Mr. Maudling

I thing the jewellery one was the important one. Looking into it, I find that the 10 per cent. was the rate in previous years, and, in general, these particular periods and deposits are based on experience of practice in the trade. I think a longer period for cookers was originally based on the fact that, usually, cookers were sold over a longer payment period. Also, as regards the down payment in the case of jewellery, it is true, as I think the right hon. Gentleman said, that a good deal of jewellery bought is in the form of engagement rings and wedding rings, and there is, possibly, a reasonable case for easing a little the difficulties in those circumstances.

I have given this some thought. I was doubtful about it, but as in the past jewellery had been treated on this basis, I could not think of a good reason for treating it on a more severe basis, comparatively, on this occasion. That is the reason why it stands at that point in the Schedule.

Generally, on the discrimination between one appliance and another, it is based normally on the custom in the trade. I remember that on previous occasions the case of wash boilers and cookers was rather strongly argued by hon. Members who said that they should be given the special treatment which they are given in this Schedule, and which, of course, carries on the special treatment they had at the time the Regulations lapsed in October, 1958.

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)

Will the President of the Board of Trade deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) in respect of the differential deposit on the different types of solid fuel appliances?

Mr. Maudling

I understand that cookers have always been, according to the custom in the trade, sold on a longer term basis of payment than space heating appliances. That is, I think, why we have done what we have here, repeating what was followed between 1955 and 1958, and copying the practice of the past. Also, I think there was a considerable argument on earlier occasions that cookers and wash boilers were fundamental requirements of the home whereas space heaters were not to the same extent and should be treated differently. Those were the reasons in the past why they were treated exceptionally, and we have continued the same treatment for the same reasons on this occasion.

There was a certain amount of political argument from the right hon. Gentleman back to his old theme about our opportunist and cynical policy, but that was, I think, dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), among others. The right hon. Gentleman talked about—[Interruption.] It is a silly argument from the Opposition. Although the hon. Member for Loughborough said that he saw this coming a year ago, he said precious little about it at the time. During 1959, we were encouraged to go ahead and expand consumer demand and expand it faster than we did at the time. Now, we are told by the right hon. Gentleman that hon. Members opposite agree now that there should be restraint. They agreed with us then, they agree with us now. Why is the Opposition's motive pure and ours opportunist and cynical when we both arrive at the right conclusion in the interest of the national economy? [HON. MEMBERS: "Come off it."] The restatement of the argument tonight by the right hon. Gentleman was even feebler than I heard it during the Budget debates.

We have examined the Orders with care. As I explained earlier, they are limited in scope, but they are limited by the legislation under which we are operating. Therefore, it is not fair to criticise the Orders on the ground that we are not doing things that we are not empowered to do.

Mr. Diamond

The right hon. Gentleman has heard great expression on both sides that there should be a permanent minimum deposit. Will he, therefore, say whether, under these enabling powers, he is compelled to withdraw the Orders as soon as the inflationary pressure is reduced, or whether, in the circumstances, it is Government policy to let them stay as long as possible?

Mr. Maudling

I would say that we have power to maintain these Orders only so long as there is a danger of excessive credit. The question of imposing permanent control is an extremely interesting one upon which we should all reflect. My point is that it is not something which can be done under the Orders. Because we cannot do these things under the Orders, they should not have been criticised for omitting them.

As for the effect of the Orders concerning minimum deposit and maximum period of repayment, we have been

urged by both sides to go further than we have been willing to go. That is not a good reason for voting against the Orders. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the reasons of the party opposite for voting against the Orders, if it decides to do so, are as bad as the reasons that the right hon. Gentleman tried to give for the action that the Government are taking.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 78, Noes 172.

Division No. 82.] AYES [11.2 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Gourlay, Harry Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Hannan, William Randall, Harry
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Hayman, F. H. Rankin, John
Blackburn, P. Herbison, Miss Margaret Redhead, E. C.
Blyton, William Hill, J. (Midlothian) Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Hilton, A. V. Ross, William
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Holman, Percy Small, William
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cliffe, Michael Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Spriggs, Leslie
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hunter, A. E. Steele, Thomas
Cronin, John Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Crosland, Anthony Jeger, George Stones, William
Darling, George Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sylvester, George
Davies, Ifor (Gower) King, Dr. Horace Symonds, J. B.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lawson, George Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Deer, George Lee, Frederick (Newton) Thornton, Ernest
Dempsey, James Loughlin, Charles Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Diamond, John Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Wainwright, Edwin
Donnelly, Desmond Mclnnes, James Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Mackie, John Wheeldon, W. E.
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Manuel, A. C. Wilkins, W. A.
Fernyhough, E. Marsh, Richard Willey, Frederick
Fitch, Alan Millan, Bruce Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Forman, J. C. Mitchison, G. R. Winterbottom, R. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morris, John
Ginsburg, David Oram, A. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Prentice, R. E. Mr. Mahon and Mr. Charles Howell.
Agnew, Sir Peter Currie, G. B. H. Hiley, Joseph
Allason, James Dance, James Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Arbuthnot, John de Ferranti, Basil Hirst, Geoffrey
Atkins, Humphrey Digby, Simon Wingfield Hobson, John
Barber, Anthony du Cann, Edward Holland, Philip
Barlow, Sir John Duncan, Sir James Hollingworth, John
Berkeley, Humphry Elliott, R. W. Hopkins, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Emery, Peter Hornby, R. P.
Bingham, R. M. Farr, John Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia
Bishop, F. P. Finlay, Graeme Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bossom, Clive Fisher, Nigel Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)
Bourne-Arton, A. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hughes-Young, Michael
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Boyle, Sir Edward Gammans, Lady Iremonger, T. L.
Brewis, John Gardner, Edward Jackson, John
Brooman-White, R. George, J. C. (Pollok) James, David
Bullard, Denys Gibson-Watt, David Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Glover, Sir Douglas Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Cleaver, Leonard Goodhart, Philip Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Cole, Norman Goodhew, Victor Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Collard, Richard Gower, Raymond Kershaw, Anthony
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Green, Alan Kitson, Timothy
Cordle, John Gresham Cooke, R. Leburn, Gilmour
Corfield, F. V. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.
Coulson, J. M. Hall, John (Wycombe) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Linstead, Sir Hugh
Critchley, Julian Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Litchfield, Capt. John
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Longden, Gilbert
Cunningham, Knox Hay, John Loveys, Walter H.
Curran, Charles Hendry, Forbes Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
McLaren, Martin Powell, J. Enoch Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
McMaster, Stanley R. Price, David (Eastleigh) Teeling, William
Maddan, Martin Prior, J. M. L. Temple, John M.
Maginnis, John E. Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Maitland, Cdr. J. W. Ramsden, James Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Rawlinson, Peter Turner, Colin
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rees, Hugh Tweedsmuir, Lady
Mawby, Ray Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Maydon, Lt.Cmdr. S. L. C. Ridsdale, Julian Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Mills, Stratton Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Wade, Donald
Morgan, William Scott-Hopkins, James Wall, Patrick
Morrison, John Sharples, Richard Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Mott-Radoliffe, Sir Charles Shaw, M. Watts, James
Nabarro, Gerald Shepherd, William Webster, David
Neave, Airey Simon, Sir Jooelyn Wells, John (Maidstone)
Noble, Michael Skeet, T. H. H. Whitelaw, William
Nugent, Sir Richard Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Osborn, John (Hallam) Smithers, Peter Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Osborne, Cyril (Louth) Spearman, Sir Alexander Wise, A. R.
Page, Graham Speir, Rupert Woodhouse, C. M.
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Stodart, J. A. Woodnutt, Mark
Peel, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Worsley, Marcus
Percival, Ian Storey, Sir Samuel
Pike, Miss Mervyn Studholme, Sir Henry TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Pilkington, Capt. Richard Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Mr. Edward Wakefield and
Pitt, Miss Edith Sumner, Donald (Orpington) Mr. Chichester-Clark.
Pott, Percivall Talbot, John E.

Motion made, and Question, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Control of Hiring Order, 1960 (S.I, 1960, No. 763), dated 27th April, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th April, be annulled —[Mr. Jay]—

put and negatived.

Motion made, and Question, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Control of Hiring (Rebates) Order, 1960 (S.I., 1960, No. 764), dated 27th April, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th April, be annulled—[Mr. Jay]—

put and negatived.