HC Deb 09 June 1961 vol 641 cc1554-5

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 12, leave out "minor amendments and".

11.8 a.m.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This is a drafting Amendment which does not in any way alter the purpose or the principle of the Bill. It was proposed on the advice of Parliamentary counsel and was moved by the Government in another place.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

Every hon. Member who has an interest in horticulture will welcome the Bill, but does it not go slightly further than being a mere drafting Amendment? Does it not alter the sense of the Bill slightly? Could we not have some further explanation than merely saying that it is a drafting Amendment? We can see that it is a drafting Amendment, but we would not like this excellent Bill to be substantially altered without some assurance.

Mr. Rankin

In this matter, of course, I am subject to the guidance of the expert, and my assurance is as I have stated it, that in no way is the purpose or the principle of the Bill altered. As a mere Member of this House, I dare not dispute something which has already been accepted by the Government on the advice of their counsel.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

Surely this is a case in which we want the help of an umpire. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin), who is supporting the Bill, thinks that this is the mere technical alteration of a word which does not affect the content of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells), who, clearly, has given much study to this subject and who talks from his heart when he says that horticulture is involved, thinks that the purpose of the Bill might be affected.

The umpire can be only the Government. The hon. Member for Govan says that the Amendment makes no difference and my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone says that there could be a difference. Both sides of the House ought to be satisfied whether the Amendment does not affect the principle of the Bill, or whether there could be an ominous meaning behind it which would cause dissatisfaction among people in horticulture. Which is right?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) is entirely right. The Amendment does not change the purpose of the Clause in any way. The form of drafting originally chosen might lead someone to suppose that the Amendment in the Schedule could be more than consequential. In fact, none of the Amendments is more than consequential. I hope that the House will therefore agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Question put and agreed to.