HC Deb 15 March 1961 vol 636 cc1547-64

[Queen's Recommendation signified]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).


in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make further provision for financial assistance for the white fish and herring industries, it is expedient to authorise the payment into the Exchequer of any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable into the Exchequer under section seventeen of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1951.—[Sir E. Boyle.]

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

On a point of order, Sir William. I wish at a suitable stage, if I may have your guidance, to raise a question about the interpretation of Standing Order No. 16 and its application to the putting of the Question on the Civil Estimates. I have a copy of Standing Orders with me now. I am quite prepared to raise it at this stage, although I do not wish to make inroads on other business. I wish to raise the matter in order to have a ruling about the procedure through which we have been tonight, and I should be glad to have your guidance.

The Deputy-Chairman

I think I had better confine myself to what is before the Committee. We are now discussing the White Fish and Herring Industries Money Resolution. I think I must stick to that.

Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)

On a further point of order, Sir William. May I give notice that at an appropriate time, not wishing to interfere with the business before the Committee now, I shall call attention to what I believe the Committee of Ways and Means did a few minutes ago? I believe that it voted £2,000 million and it should have voted £200 million. Owing to the disorder and noise then going on, there was some confusion, but I and my hon. Friends clearly heard the figure £2,000 million put. I should like in due course to inquire how the Committee may correct the appalling blunder which it has just made.

The Deputy-Chairman

However that may be, I think I had better keep the Committee to what is now before us.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

On a point of order. Sir William. Will you explain whether the £2,000 million was for the White Fish and Herring Industries?

The Deputy-Chairman

Sir Edward Boyle.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

At the outset I must express to the Committee my very great regret that this Money Resolution should be necessary on account of what I freely admit was a drafting error, not a printing error, in the Resolution which the Committee considered and approved on the night of 31st January, 1961. Having made that expression of regret, I think that the best service I can perform now would be to explain as clearly as I can, without taking an unreasonable amount of time, how the mistake came to be made.

It will be well known to the Committee that under our Standing Orders any proposal for a charge on the public revenue or for the granting of money to the Crown must start in Committee of the whole House. However, as again is well known, a Bill containing such a proposal may receive a Second Reading before the Committee proceedings authorising the proposal. The only exception to that Rule is a Bill which is required to originate in Committee of Ways and Means, the sort of Bill which begins with the words "Most Gracious Sovereign".

Where this procedure which I have described is adopted—and it is the normal procedure nowadays—it is the custom of the House that the words embodying the proposals to impose the charge are printed in italics when the Bill is first published, and when the Bill reaches Committee they cannot remain part of it unless the charge has already been authorised by a Committee of the whole House. The authorisation can be given only on the recommendation of the Crown. That is why, for example, tonight, before we started our present proceedings, you, Sir William used the words "Queen's Recommendation signified." For this reason the Committee to which the Bill is refererred, even if it is a Committee of the whole House, cannot give the authorisation, which must be obtained by a separate Resolution to which the Queen's recommendation has been signified.

The point of this Resolution is that in order to avoid the disadvantage of putting too great a part of the Bill in italics the practice has grown up in the House—and I think it reasonable—of inserting a formal provision authorising a charge implied by the substantive provisions of the Bill and italicising only this formal provision. This Bill is a very good case in point. Hon. Members will see that the formal provision, Clause 3, is italicised. If Clause 3 (1), were not there, the whole of Clause 1 of the Bill, the operative Clause on which the hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. H. Lever) addressed us so eloquently and so long. would have had to be italicised, and if Clause 3 (2) were not in the Bill, the whole of Clause 2 would have had to he italicised.

Clause 2 increases the maximum for outstanding loans to the White Fish Authority under Section 17 (1) of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1951. The effect of the increase, which the Committee can debate in due course when we come back to Committee stage, is that at some future date there will be payments of interest, and repayments of loan, which would not otherwise have occurred. Under Section 17 (4) of the 1951 Act, interest payments and repayments of loan are payable into the Exchequer, and it is the practice of the House to treat provision for payments into the Exchequer of this kind, even though they are contractual payments, as a grant of money to the Crown indistinguishable from an ordinary Ways and Means grant.

The original Money Resolution which we debated on the night of 31st January covered Clause 2 in so far as that Clause authorised a charge on revenue to provide the additional moneys to advance. But, as I freely admit, and as we recognised after that Committee stage, the Money Resolution ought also to have covered the consequent additional payment into the Exchequer. That it failed to do, and that is why the further Resolution is necessary tonight. I express great regret about this. I missed it, the Treasury missed it and my right hon.

Friend missed it. The original Resolution having been agreed in Committee and by the House on Report, it cannot be amended. That is the reason why a new Resolution is required this evening.

There is one other point which I ought to mention. I have not taken unduly long so far. I can understand hon. Members asking why the new Resolution is taken in the Money Committee and is not a Ways and Means Resolution, for I agree that the need for this Resolution arises from what one might call an analogy with our Ways and Means procedure. I think that I shall have the authority of the Chair in taking the view that it is the practice of the House that grants of money of this kind, when they are purely incidental to or consequential on provisions authorising expenditure—and the main purpose of the Bill is authorising expenditure—are included in the Money Resolution which authorises the expenditure, but that grants of money which are not associated with the authorisation of expenditure are authorised, as they always have been, in Committee of Ways and Means.

This is, of necessity, a technical subject. I have done my best to give the Committee an explanation of the need for this Resolution and why it has been drafted in this way. A plain man's guide would simply be that the original Money Resolution covered the first part of the italicised words in Clause 3 (1) and we require this further Resolution to cover the words in Clause 3 (2). With those words I commend the Motion to the Committee.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

We have listened to a long explanation from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and a history of how Money Resolutions came to be drafted. It has nothing to do with the case. The hon. Gentleman ought to have told the Committee that the Money Resolution produced by the Government on 31st January was defective, made provision only for the payment out by the Government of money under the new Bill when it becomes an Act, and failed to make any provision for the payment in of money. That, in substance, was the mistake made, and that is the point with which we are dealing. tonight. It was a mistake made in the drafting of the Money Resolution which failed to provide for payments into the Exchequer of money in interest as the result of the Bill.

I want to make a further protest about this because we have frequently been accused of holding up this Bill. The Minister said so himself, and one or two of his hon. Friends on the back benches said that we were preventing the work from being carried out. This was no fault of ours. The Bill was read a Second time on 31st January, and it is only now that provision is being made to deal with the Money Resolution. That is not the fault of the Opposition; it is the fault of the Government.

Let me also remind the Committee of what happened on 2nd March. It is on this that I wish to make a protest to the Government. On 2nd March, when the Leader of the House announced the business for the following week, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) asked why the Bill had been withdrawn on the previous night. The Leader of the House said that they had discovered a mistake in the Money Resolution and as a result he proposed to produce a new Money Resolution.

Until my hon. and learned Friend raised the matter the Government made no statement about it. If the Government knew that this mistake had been made, then, in my view and that of my right hon. and hon. Friends, it was the duty of the Leader of the House, and certainly of the Minister, to say that this mistake had been made and that they proposed putting down a new Money Resolution to rectify it. But nothing was said until the matter was raised from the Opposition benches. Let me recall what the Leader of the House said in reply to a further Question: It is precisely because we wanted the Financial Resolution to be quite wide enough before we entered into further debate that we decided on this procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March. 1961: Vol. 635, c. 1756.] The Minister must know that even this Amendment in no way widens the scope of the Money Resolution. I must point out to him once more that we protested against the tightness of the Resolution when it was first introduced in the House. Three-quarters of an hour was occupied by my hon. Friends and myself in drawing attention to the tightness of the Resolution. It is true that we failed to appreciate that it had been drawn so tightly that it even choked the Government in the process, so that they could not go on with their own Bill. The Government should have been much more forthcoming about the reason for the delay in the Bill. They ought not to be required to be pressed for an explanation but should have confessed in the House to their mistake rather than allow it to be brought out by Question and Answer during the statement on the business of the House.

10.30 p.m.

I want to ask the Financial Secretary one or two questions about the newly-drafted Money Resolution. I know that this Money Resolution is based on the 1951 Act and, as the hon. Gentleman said, it derives its power from Section 17 (4). But he failed to point out that it is modified by the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1953. The main Act is the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1951, and it is modified by the 1953 Act. The principal Act is the 1951 Act, but it is the 1953 Act which makes provision for the paying out and receipt of money.

There is, however, another important provision with which the hon. Gentleman did not deal. I refer to Section 4 (3) of the 1953 Act, which states: If it is shown to the satisfaction of the Ministers and the Treasury that any sum representing the principal of an advance made out of the White Fish Marketing Fund or part of such an advance cannot be repaid, the Treasury may direct that the liability of the Authority to the Ministers shall be reduced to the extent of that sum. I want an assurance that this provision is covered by the new Money Resolution.

The White Fish Authority not only makes a charge on the industry in respect of interest charges, but it so increases the interest charge as to recover any bad debts which may be incurred by the White Fish Authority as a result of these loans. The white fish and herring industry has always protested to the Minister and to the Secretary of State for Scotland that this was an imposition on the industry which it should not be expected to carry. I want to know why, if the Minister is making provision to deal with this matter of bad debts, the White Fish Authority should at the same time be making this imposition on the industry itself. An explanation is certainly called for. In short, therefore, what I want to know is, first, is provision made for it; and, second, if provision is made, why does the White Fish Authority seek to make a charge on the industry when these loans are granted?

Even with this addition to the Money Resolution, let it be clearly understood that, contrary to what the Leader of the House said, it in no way widens the scope of the Money Resolution, and I defy the Minister to say that it does. The Committee is absolutely tied. In no way can we seek to amend it. I put down an Amendment to the original Money Resolution, but the Chair ruled it out of order. It is so tightly drawn that we cannot amend any of the provisions. The Minister knows that if he should be faced with a bill for anything exceeding £3 million he will have to bring two Motions before the House to get the money required, so tightly is the Resolution drawn. That is the ridiculous position in which we find ourselves tonight.

While we will not oppose this Money Resolution tonight, we point out all its defects. Let the industry clearly understand that if there has been delay in dealing with this Bill and with the Money Resolution, the blame lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Government and not of the Opposition.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

I have only one thing to add to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy), although I think that the Financial Secretary has been very ungenerous in the way he said that he had to introduce this new Money Resolution. There are two counts on which he should have paid tribute to the Opposition for having so dealt with the previous situation as to get him out of his scrape.

First, on the previous occasion it was clearly pointed out during the debate on that Money Resolution that the Government were restricted to the Resolution they were then bringing forward, and there was a considerable argument about that. Furthermore, during the Committee stage, there was at least one occasion—and probably two—when a Motion to report Progress was moved, and it was argued that one of the reasons for reporting Progress was to give the Government further time to consider the whole of the Bill. Had it not been for that argument, which was eventually accepted by the Committee as a reason for reporting Progress, the Bill would have gone through its further stages under a misapprehension as to what should properly be included in the Money Resolution.

It really seems very odd that if a Government discovers that there is something wrong with a Money Resolution they should come a little later and try to spatchcock into the proceedings of the House a Motion to try to remedy a situation of their own creation. I should have thought, therefore, that the proper procedure for the Government was either LI withdraw the Bill altogether and reintroduce it—and that would be the cleanest and best method—or for the Government to go back to the point of the Money Resolution and wipe out the previous Committee stage discussion.

It is quite clear that the whole of that discussion in Committee on Clause I took place under a misapprehension. in the sense that if the Government had drafted the Money Resolution properly in the first place the debate would have taken place in a different perspective and in different terms than was the case the other night. It might have been possible for my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. H. Lever) to have raised some further points had he known exactly what were the terms of the Money Resolution.

It is not right to have a procedure under which a Government can introduce a Money Resolution and then, when they find during the Committee stage that they have been wanting in the drafting of the Money Resolution, be entitled at any time while the Bill is passing through Committee stage, Report stage, going to the House of Lords, coming back here, to introduce an Amendment to their previous Money Resolution.

Can the Financial Secretary tell us whether there have been any previous occasions when this has happened? If he wishes to tell us at once, I will give way. Can he cite precedents for a Government choosing the moment when it can put in what amounts to an Amendment of the original Money Resolution? If the Government cannot find any really reputable precedents for doing this, they would have been treating us more generously and more fairly if they had said, "We have made an unholy mess of this. We have botched it completely. We must make recompense. As the Committee stage took place under false pretences, the Government are prepared to try to get that part of the discussion cancelled, and to go back to the point at which the mistake was made." But if we are to have procedure under which the Government can alter the terms of a Money Resolution at any time they choose, it means that they can play ducks and drakes with the whole of our procedure.

Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)

One of the moving features about the various stages of our discussion of the Bill is the evidence that has accumulated of the profound interest in the fishing industry which is manifested in many different places. I had not realised until the Bill was introduced how deep and profound was the interest in Ebbw Vale and elsewhere, but I am only sorry that so far my hon. Friend the Member for the Manchester Ship Canal, if I might so describe my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. H. Lever), has not been able to catch your eye, Sir William, because we have had an excellent example of how interested Mancunians also were in the industry.

I should like to speak from a slightly narrower viewpoint than that of a resident of either Ebbw Vale or Manchester and ask one or two specific questions about the scope of the Money Resolution. I agree strongly with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) that this is not a very elevating occasion to preach democracy. The incompetence on the part of the Leader of the House certainly would not be a perfect example to people from overseas territories of how our democracy works. Nevertheless, I should like to ask one or two specific questions which. I hope, either the Minister or the Financial Secretary will answer.

Does the Money Resolution as now redrawn contain any limitation as to the date from which subsidies might or might not be paid to the distant-water section of the fleet? To put it more specifically, would it be possible under the Money Resolution as redrawn that the subsidies which have in principle been accepted as proper for the distant-water fleet might be backdated to the date, for example, when the Fleck Committee reported? Secondly, under the Money Resolution as redrawn, is it possible to avoid the situation which occurred last autumn, when the funds available to the White Fish Authority ran out and there was an extremely serious interim period in the course of which trawler firms could not place firm orders for new trawlers because they were uncertain whether they would get new grants and loans from the White Fish Authority?

Thirdly, I should like to ask whether the Money Resolution as redrawn takes account of the change in the basic situation of the fishing industry which has occurred since the Bill was first introduced. We have had clearly a basic change in that the Icelandic agreement—

The Deputy-Chairman

Order. The hon. Member is pursuing a course of argument that would soon lead beyond the scope of the Money Resolution.

Mr. Crosland

It would make me extremely unhappy should that occur, Sir William. I was about to stop just at the point where my argument would lead to discussion of something outside the scope of the Resolution. All that I wanted to ascertain was whether this redrawn Money Resolution did or did not take account of the change in circumstances since the original Resolution was presented to the Committee.

That is a legitimate question. This is the second Money Resolution which we have had and one wants to know whether it has been redrawn solely on grounds of technical incompetence in the first one or whether it has been redrawn to take account of the changed circumstances. We are bound to take account of the fact that the circumstances are quite different in the sense that the fishing industry's prospects and its need for the money which is promised to it in the Bill are quite different from the days when the Bill was first introduced. It is legitimate, therefore, to ask questions as to the scope of the new Money Resolution.

Does the Resolution, for example, take account of the fact that we are now faced outside Iceland, not with a 12-mile limit—because that is the impression which is often given—but, if one calculates the new base lines, with a limit amounting often to 27 miles? Does the new Resolution take account of the fact that the transitional period during which our men can fish between six and twelve miles is not, as in the case of the Norwegian agreement or as in the case of the Anglo-American resolution presented at the last Conference on the Law of the Sea—

The Deputy-Chairman

Order. The Money Resolution takes account of the Bill as it was before.

Mr. Crosland

I am merely asking what the Bill as it was before took account of.

The Deputy-Chairman

It would clearly be out of order to discuss all that is in the Bill. This is a Money Resolution only.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

On a point of order. Surely it is in order to ask whether the Money Resolution does certain things? It has usually been the procedure, in discussing Money Resolutions, to ask whether they cover certain things. I submit that what my hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) is asking is covered by Clause I of the Bill. The nature of the subsidies proposed to be given to the distant-water fleets is contained in the Bill. My hon. Friend is only asking whether the changes that have taken place will be covered by the Money Resolution.

The Deputy-Chairman

I appreciate the point put by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), but this debate is confined to the Money Resolution and not to what the Bill may or may not apply to. The Money Resolution is confined, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East knows, to the payment and repayment of loans and of interest to and from the Exchequer.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Further to that point of order. Surely the point is that whether or not one can amend a Bill in certain respects is dependent on the Money Resolution? My hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) is trying to find out whether or not this Money Resolution is wide enough to permit him possibly to move some Amendments if necessary.

Mr. Crosland

My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has put precisely the limited motive I had in mind in asking the questions I have put. I want to discover how far the wording of this new Money Resolution limits, or does not limit, our scope to move possible Amendments to the Bill at a later stage. I should like to ask one or two more extremely limited questions.

Does the scope of the Money Resolution, as now re-presented, permit us, at a later stage, to take up, in our consideration of the Bill, the question that the transitional period in the agreement with Iceland is very much more unsatisfactory than the Minister of Agriculture suggested it would be a month or two ago? For example. the whole of the area off the north-west coast of Iceland, which Grimsby fishermen and trawler owners in particular had expected to fish during the transitional period, is to be completely closed. This will be a serious situation for Grimsby's long-distance fleets.

These are points on which we should have guidance from the Minister of Agriculture. I must say to him—he is looking very impatient—that there is an extremely serious situation for our long-distance fleets.

The Deputy-Chairman

Order. would not be right to allow a full Second Reading type of discussion to develop in this debate on the Money Resolution.

Mr. Crosland

It would be wrong to do so, Sir William. I was provoked by the expression of boredom on the face of the Minister of Agriculture. I conclude by saying that I hope that he and the Financial Secretary will realise that they are dealing here not simply with a petty little Bill which has been rather inefficiently handled in the House, the consequences of which are of no concern to anybody, but with one which affects an industry of an extremely serious character to the country as a whole. That industry has taken a very bad knock in recent weeks, and I hope that the Financial Secretary will not simply defend the Government in terms of whether or not this Money Resolution was properly presented, or whether italicisation are in the right place or not.

Sir E. Boyle

I rise again because, in view of the speech by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), it might be desirable for me to try to explain the scope of the Money Resolution and what, therefore, the scope of the debate must be.

This Money Resolution does not touch distant-water fleets, subsidies, or Iceland. It is only for the payments into the Exchequer. Therefore—with very great regret, because it is not often that I find myself involved in debate on fisheries—I do not think I should be in order in trying to reply to nearly all the latter points he made, though my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture has asked me to say that he has taken due note of all the matters raised by the hon. Member.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that what he is saying now conflicts with what he said in his opening speech? In his opening speech he said that this Money Resolution was concerned mainly with printing—whether it should be in italics or in Roman type—but now he says something quite different, that it affects payment of money into the Exchequer. On which foot does he stand?

Sir E. Boyle

I think that the correct answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman is "the right foot." In my earlier speech I was explaining to the Committee just why Clause 3 had to be in the Bill at all. The new Money Resolution, as I explained to the Committee, covers, as it were, Section 3 (2), and I tried to explain to the Committee is clearly as I could why Section 3 was in at all. Nothing that I have said in answer to the hon. Member for Grimsby in any way contradicted my earlier remarks.

I share the pleasure of the hon. Member for Grimsby that so many people in all parts of the country are taking an interest in fish, though I am not sure that hundreds of years ago the House of Commons would have thought it so odd that people were taking a special interest in white fish during a Wednesday in Lent.

Perhaps I might now answer the two other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) asked about Section 4 (3) of the 1953 Act, containing a power to write off bad debts. Obviously, that power means less and not more money being paid into the Exchequer and, therefore, could not of its very nature require a Money Resolution. So the Money Resolution which I am moving—a very narrow one—has no connection at all with Section 4 of the 1953 Act.

Finally, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)—

Mr. Willis

I hope that the Financial Secretary is not finishing.

Sir E. Boyle

—said that we should be grateful to the Opposition for their questions. I think all of us on this side are always grateful and always enjoy it when the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) rises to his feet, and I agree that he raised a very useful point about playing "cat and mouse" with the fishing industry on that Thursday afternoon.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asked whether the fact that we needed a new Resolution did not perhaps invalidate our proceedings so far. That is not so, because the Resolution which we passed on the night of 31st January made perfectly in order the discussion that we had on Clause 1 of the Bill, in which the hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. H. Lever) played so notable a part.

Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)

Is it a fact, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) asserted, that the Money Resolution governs and conditions the nature of the Amendments which are possible? Surely with a different Money Resolution we could have had different Amendments tabled?

Sir E. Boyle

No. The answer to the hon. Member is that the new Money Resolution that we are discussing would have made no difference at all to whether Amendments were or were not in order on Clause 1. The fact that the new Resolution had not then been before the Committee did not make any difference at all to our proceedings on Clause 1: they were perfectly in order. The answer to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is that, quite apart from any question of a mistake—as, I agree, happened in this instance—it is by no means unprecedented to have a second Money Resolution to cover an Amendment to an original Bill either in the Committee stage or on recommittal after the Committee stage has been concluded. That quite of ten happens. It may be that the Government wish to table a new Amendment on recommittal, and it is then necessary to first move a new Money Resolution in order to cover that Amendment. In effect, that is what we are doing here. We are moving not so much an amended Resolution but a second Money Resolution so that discussion can proceed perfectly in order, when we come to it, on Clauses 2 and 3 in Committee. So I can assure the Committee that nothing unprecedented is happening here at all. I hope very much that the Committee, having had that explanation, will now be ready to approve this Money Resolution.

Mr. Hoy

The hon. Gentleman gets rather slick in his argument about the payment of money in. He must not try to be quite so sharp as this. The Money Resolution is in two parts. The first dealt with payment of money out. What we are dealing with tonight is the second part, which deals with the payment of money in. I hoped that what I was saying to the hon. Gentleman was explicitly clear. The moneys which were first paid out are paid out under the first part of the Financial Resolution. It is that which empowers the Treasury to pay that sum out, but the second one deals with the payment of money in.

If this failure takes place, the Treasury is entitled to empower the White Fish Authority not to ask for the money. I asked the Financial Secretary and he said that that was all right and that it was provided for under the complete Financial Resolution. It must be provided for somewhere. Money does not appear from nowhere at all. It comes under the first part of the Financial Resolution. I was asking why, having made that provision, the White Fish Authority should impose a charge on the rest of the industry for any bad debts that might be incurred. If the Financial Secretary is getting his answers so slickly from the Box, I want an answer to that question and I think that the Committee is entitled to have it.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I merely want to make a protest against the way in which the white fish industry is being dealt with in this Resolution and by the Government. I have protested against the way the industry is being treated by the Government from time to time. On every occasion that we have Bills dealing with the fishing industry and Money Resoutions relating to them they are brought before us late at night. I have asked the Leader of the House so to arrange the business of the House and the Committee that these matters would come on earlier. The right hon. Gentleman may not realise that the fishing industry is one in which tens of thousands of people work and earn their living and one from which millions of people obtain nourishment.

The Deputy-Chairman

This is getting far too wide for a debate on this Money Resolution.

Mr. Hughes

May I finish what I am saying? I am dealing with the Money Resolution.

It has been already indicated from the Financial Secretary's speech that the Money Resolution is of a complicated character. It involves the discussion not only of the money paid by the Treasury but of the manner in which the Bill would be printed—whether it would be printed in italics or in Roman type. Apart from that, the involved way in which the hon. Gentleman attempted to simplify a very diffiult matter shows that this is not the type of thing that should be dealt with late at night. It should be brought before us early in the day and a whole day should be given over to discussing it. I repeat my protest against the disgraceful way in which the Government are treating the fishing industry not only tonight but on every occasion when anything relating to the industry comes before the Committee or the House.

Mr. Willis

The Financial Secretary said that the transaction about which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. Leith (Mr. Hoy) spoke would result in less coming in. But a profit might be made, in which case it would result in more coming in.

Sir E. Boyle

To write off bad debts, in so far as the power is operated, must mean less and not more money coming into the Exchequer. My sole point was that one never needs a Money Resolution to validate less money coming into the Exchequer. The whole point of a Ways and Means Resolution is to validate more money coming into the Exchequer.

Mr. Willis

The hon. Gentleman has not understood. The point was that the White Fish Authority was making up the loss by charging an increased rate of interest, and it is possible that in doing so it might get more in return that the actual losses. Can the hon. Member explain that?

It being Eleven o'clock, three-quarters of an hour after the House had resolved itself into the Committee, The CHAIRMAN put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 1 A (Exemptions from Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House)).

Question agreed to.

Resolved, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present, Session to make further provision for financial assistance for the white fish and herring industries, it is expedient to authorise the payment into the Exchequer of any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable into the Exchequer under section seventeen of the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1951.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.