HC Deb 23 April 1964 vol 693 cc1613-37

Amendment made: In page 5, line 35, at beginning insert: (1) It shall be the duty of the Registrar to prepare, compile and maintain for the purposes of this Act a register of goods in respect of which notices are given to him under this section, and to make reference to the court under section 5 of this Act (subject to such directions as may be given by the Board of Trade with respect to the order in which such references are to be made) in respect of all goods of which particulars are for the time being entered in the register.—[Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan.]

Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

I beg to move Amendment No. 117, in page 5, line 35, to leave out from after the words last inserted to the second "the" and to insert "After".

The Temporary Chairman

With this Amendment we can take Amendments Nos. 125, 126, 127, 131, and 152.

Mr. Irvine

Yes, Mr. Blackburn. At this point the Committee turns its thoughts to the procedure governing applications in respect of exemptions for certain goods. Those applications have to be heard by the Restrictive Practices Court under the machinery set out in the Bill. As I read the Clause, such applications must be made within the period of three months from the commencement of the coming into operation of Clause 5. The Amendment would have the effect of allowing applications to be brought to the Court without a time limit.

The point is a short one. I do not see what procedural advantage is gained by the requirement that applications for exemption for goods must be made within a period of three months from the passing of the Act. That is a comparatively short period. There will, presumably, be a considerable number of persons desiring to make application and with so short a period I think that there is the risk of possible congestion in the "pipeline" of applications. That would be of no advantage to anyone.

It may well be that the Minister will enlighten me about this, and indicate the advantage in terms of procedure or administration of putting this period requirement into the Bill. From the point of view of policy I should have thought it desirable that suppliers should have reasonable time to consider how the Bill affects the class of goods in which they are interested. I think that there is everything to be said in favour of giving suppliers room for manœuvre and at least a substantial margin of time during which they could put in an application. Requirements which seem desirable from the point of view of suppliers would meet the convenience of the Registrar and the Court and make it easier rather than otherwise to programme the processes of applications and the hearing of applications.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman inviting the Committee to say that applications should be allowed to be entered at any time after the passing of the Act? Is he really saying that?

Mr. Irvine

That is a perfectly fair question. It may be my fault, but at the moment—I shall be interested to hear the answer—I do not see any objection to it being open to a supplier to apply at any time. Perhaps the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) will reveal some dazzling and convincing objection to it, and if so I should be the first to acknowledge the merit of his answer were I satisfied that his answer possessed merit.

I do not see any objection in principle. I feel much more strongly about the three-month limit. I think that period is too short. It seems to me that the appropriate way to deal with this is to leave it at large and make it possible for suppliers to bring forward their applications at a time of their choice and when they have had an opportunity to consider the effect of the new provisions upon the goods which they are supplying.

Unless I am mistaken, that would have the collateral advantage that it would cover new classes of goods after the date of the passing of the Bill and it becoming an Act. It seems to us that nothing would be gained by cluttering up the situation in a manner which might result from the imposition of a three-month restriction and that the Bill would be better if there were no time limit. Suppliers would not wish to delay too long in the ordinary conduct of affairs. The Bill would be a better Measure if this rigid and strict time-table were not applied. We shall be interested to learn of the arguments to be brought forward to support the time-table which is proposed.

Mr. Shepherd

I do not think I can give the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) an answer which is dazzling, but I might be able to put a point which I think unanswerable.

Surely the purpose of the Bill when it becomes an Act is to decide whether resale price maintenance shall or shall not be permitted. If we allow individuals to register at any time after the passing of the Bill, quite clearly in the interval of time one presumes they will be able to continue the practice which is the subject of the Bill. If that is so it would result in infinite postponement of any critical decisions on the practice of resale price maintenance. This seems utterly wrong and I cannot understand why the hon. and learned Member put down an Amendment of this kind.

Mr. du Cann

We have had two interesting speeches, from the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. W. Shepherd), although they seemed to be somewhat at variance. I hope, however, that by the time I sit down I shall have been able to please everyone. If I have not, it will not be for the want of trying. I do not promise to dazzle hon. Members.

We are considering six Amendments, the main Amendment No. 117, in the name of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), Amendment No. 125 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) and Amendment No. 152 also in his name—about which I wish to say something in particular in a moment—Amendments Nos. 126 and 127 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst), and Amendment No. 131, originally in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown). They are all designed to achieve substantially the same purpose. That is to allow notice to be given by suppliers seeking exemption at any time and not only within the three-month period referred to in Clause 6.

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle to the extent that we think it right that the three-month limit should remain. This Bill has a particular purpose which is entirely clear. Fears expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Edge Hill as to pressure and so on we think are unlikely, but on the question of late application we think there is force in the arguments for these Amendments. We also think that many suppliers might be prepared to abandon the practice of r.p.m. if they felt that they would not thereby forgo the chance of applying for exemption at a later stage. In those circumstances, therefore, while agreeing with my hon. Friend, I agree with some of the arguments of the hon. and learned Member and I am happy to give the Committee an undertaking to reconsider the matter with a view to putting down an Amendment at a later stage.

There are two other matters that I wish to state to the Committee, one of which I have already prophesied. The first will be of interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle. There would be no question in the case of these late applications of an interim exemption. I shall explain precisely what I mean. As the Committee will know, if an application for exemption is made within the ordinary period of three months r.p.m. can continue in respect of that trade in the meantime. We should not be prepared in the Amendment we have in mind for Report to allow r.p.m. to continue during the period of application. That will not be possible. It will be only possible to introduce, or may be even to reintroduce, r.p.m. following a late application if it is successful before the Court, from that moment on, and not a day before it.

I hope that that deals with one point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Shepherd

If, three years after the passing of the Act, someone decides to put in an application, is it clear that in the interval between the passing of the Act and the application he will not be allowed to engage in the restrictive practice concerned?

Mr. du Cann

The answer is a clear and unequivocal, "Yes"

Mr. W. Wells

That is not clear.

Mr. du Cann

I appear not to be as clear as I should like, and as I know the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) would particularly like me to be clear, I will restate the position. The answer is that it will not be possible for r.p.m. to be practised in the interim period of three years to which he referred. I hope that that is clear.

Mr. Wells

I understand it.

Mr. du Cann

If the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North says that he understands it, then we must all be quite clear. He has a very clear mind, as I am well aware.

The second point with which I wanted to deal arises on Amendment No. 152 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham. This Amendment deals with a particular class of case, unlike the other Amendments which the Committee is considering. As I said, I am prepared to reconsider the whole question of late applications, but this would, of course, cover applications in respect of new goods as well as late applications, a point mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Edge Hill. In the circumstances, I hope that the Committee will permit the Amendment to be withdrawn in order to allow further Amendments to be put down to deal with the position.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)

In the case of an application made within three months which does not come before the Court for a considerable time, I take it that the interim arrangements continue and that the r.p.m. continues?

Mr. du Cann

This is made clear in the Bill.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

It is encouraging, when one has put forward an argument which has apparently struck the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) as wholly unsustainable, to discover later that it is acceptable, by and large, in principle to the Government. I am glad of the assurance which we have received, which seemed to me to be helpful and important. In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. du Cann

I beg to move Amendment 205, in page 5, line 36, to leave out "section 5 of this Act" and to insert "this section".

I think that I need not weary the Committee with a detailed explanation. This is purely a drafting Amendment, minor in character, which has no effect on the substantive provisions of the Clause.

Amendment, agreed to.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Blackburn)

I understand that the following Amendrent is not to be moved—No. 120, in page 5, line 38, after "resale" to insert "any dealer in those goods".

The Chairman of Ways and Means has said that in that case the debate can take place on Amendment No. 121 in the name of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay).

Mr. Jay

I beg to move Amendment No. 121, in page 5, line 39, after "include" to insert "dealers or".

I take it that we may discuss at the same time Amendments Nos. 122 and 160.

The Temporary Chairman


Mr. Jay

This group takes us back to the point argued on Second Reading. The question is whether retailers as well as manufacturers may be permitted under the Bill to give notice that they wish to bring the possibility of exemption before the Restrictive Practices Court. At present under the Bill only the supplier may give notice. I argued in my contribution on Second Reading that it was unreasonable to exclude the retailer altogether from initiating this process under the Bill. The Minister replied that there would be no point in giving the retailer, in addition to the supplier, the opportunity to take the initiative, because it is, after all, the supplier—the manufacturer—who maintains resale prices; therefore, unless—I again state the Minister's argument—the manufacturer who maintains them wishes to give notice, there could be no sense in the retailer giving notice, and, if the supplier wishes to do so, he presumably will.

This does not wholly satisfy us. There might be a variety of circumstances here. No doubt in the normal circumstance it would be the manufacturer, or I suppose the wholesaler, who is included in "supplier" for this purpose—the Minister might clear that point up—who would be responsible for maintaining resale prices, and therefore he would wish to initiate the claim for exemption. It is, however, one of the oddities of this subject that, whereas the maintenance of resale prices limits the freedom of the retailer—this is one of the cases against it, because it limits the freedom of the retailer to vary his prices—nothing stands out more obviously from the whole controversy than that in practice a large number a retailers are extremely anxious that resale prices should be maintained.

Therefore, a retailer is clearly an interested party. On the face of it, it is a little odd to shut retailers out—I do not use the word "gateway"; this would lead to confusion—from entry at this stage of the Bill where the whole legal proceedings are initiated.

I should have thought that there would be some circumstances in which it might be appropriate, or it might be wished, that retailers, in spite of what the Minister has said, should give the original notice. We know that the retailers may desire that resale prices should be maintained. Might not there be circumstances in which by agreement, for instance, with the manufacturers they would wish to give the notice? Might it not be that they were more willing to undertake the financial costs involved in fighting the case than the manufacturer?

Various possible circumstances might arise. At the very least, even if it is the case that it is very unlikely that the retailers—or the retailers' trade association, which is included in these Amendments—would wish to argue the case when the manufacturers did not, there would be no harm in putting this into the Bill. It would perhaps be null and void, but it would at least recognise the retailers' right to have a say and, if the situation never arose, I do not see why the Minister would think that any harm would be done.

Since the Bill is so heavily weighted against retailers in many respects—we have now passed Clause 5, in which the retailers' interest cannot be taken into account at all in the argument there—I should have thought that there was a case for at least giving this section of the trading community the right to initiate the proceedings. Even admitting the whole of the Minister's argument, which I do not do, and that this would not be likely to arise in any circumstances, no harm would be done by making this Amendment. We should at least have removed the grievance which retailers might now have.

Mr. du Cann

I regret that after having, if I do not assume too much, obtained a good mark from the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) for being agreeable in regard to the last batch of Amendments, I shall now acquire a substantial black mark for being a little disagreeable, because I am sorry to have to tell him that I cannot accept the arguments he has put before the Committee in moving the Amendment.

The Amendment is designed to permit the initiation of exemptions by trade associations of retailers. As the right hon. Member said, Clause 6 as drafted provides for an application only by suppliers, as defined in Clause 11, and excluding retailers. Referring to Clause 5, he said that it was designed to exclude all interests of retailers. That is not quite so, although I do not take full issue with him on this point because Clause 5(2,b) relates to the number of establishments and, therefore, to a limited extent obviously retailing interests are considered. Be that as it may, there is very good reason for Clause 6 to be drafted as it is, and the right hon. Gentleman called attention to the remarks of my right hon. Friend in an earlier discussion which we had on this point.

Resale price maintenance is a practice of manufacturers. They impose price conditions which each retailer must individually observe. A manufacturer is entirely free to practice r.p.m. or not, and if he wishes to abandon the practice his distributors cannot compel him to continue it. Indeed, if they tried to do so collectively—for example, by withholding orders—they would be in breach of Section 24 of the 1956 Act.

Assuming that the Bill becomes an Act, where a manufacturer or other supplier wishes to continue to maintain prices he will, no doubt, apply for exemption. The only purpose in permitting retailers to apply on his behalf, as it were, would be to enable individual retailers to bring pressure to bear on the manufacturer to maintain his prices when obviously he did not want to do so.

The Bill is intended to restrict r.p.m. and we feel strongly that we do not want to write into it a provision which would only encourage individual retailers to try to persuade unwilling or indifferent manufacturers to maintain their resale prices. I could not agree with the right hon. Member for Batter- sea, North that if the Government saw fit to accept the Amendment it would do no harm. In our view it would do a great deal of harm and would strike at the whole root and purpose of the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of costs. I suppose that if the suppliers and retailers think it appropriate in particular cases there is nothing to stop them coming to personal agreements about the sharing of costs. That is a matter for them. That would not be inhibited by the Bill as drafted. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the retailer had the right to have say. As he knows, there is provision for retailers to have the right to be joined as partners in the proceedings and so be able to support a case made by a retailer under Clause 8(3), to which we shall come later.

I think, therefore, that to some extent the point of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North is met, but, in so far as it is not, I could not advise the Committee, even with the best will in the world, to accept his arguments or the Amendment. I hope that he will see fit to withdraw it or, if not, that the Committee will vote against it.

Mr. Bowen

In many instances the supplier is also the retailer. Presumably if he were engaged in the retail trade there would be nothing to prevent him, if he was in other respects operating as a supplier, from coming within this provision. I would like an assurance on this point.

Mr. du Cann

I am not sure that I comprehend the question which the hon. and learned Member is asking. There would seem to be no reason why a retailer and supplier should not be one and the same person. This is perfectly possible and one can imagine it happening. If I find upon examination that I have misunderstood the hon. and learned Member, I will write to him on the subject.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. W. Wells

As the Minister knows, it is difficult for me to understand questions of this kind and I must confess that there was one part of his argument which I did not follow at all. As I understood him, he was saying that under the Amendment my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) was, in effect, seeking to undermine the purpose of the Bill, which, he said, was designed to restrict r.p.m. He went on to say that this series of Amendments would hamper that restriction.

Surely the hon. Gentleman does not really mean that. It does not restrict resale price maintenance for someone who thinks that he is a party to the arrangements to challenge the arrangements. It is ordinary practice. These Amendments would give the dealers a right of audience and a right of initiation. Resale price maintenance may be right in particular circumstances or it may be wrong, but since there are two vitally affected sets of parties, one the suppliers and the other the dealers, apart from the public, why should it be said that the suppliers are to have the right to initiate proceedings and not the dealers, if the dealers can see that their interests are vitally at stake?

Mr. Shepherd

I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) that there seems to be some lack of equity in limiting the rights of initiation to suppliers especially as r.p.m. was in many cases a conspiracy, if I may use this term, between suppliers and retailers. I think that the Committee may have lost sight of the proposal of my hon. Friend a short time ago that late application would be permitted. This has a very real bearing on the suggestion now before the Committee.

The Committee can imagine what might happen. Applications could take place at any time, presumably, years after the passing of the Bill. If it were allowed that retailers could bring an application, manufacturers would be at hazard because one of 10,000 retailers wanted to bang in an application in respect of that manufacturer's products. I would regard that as a wholly intolerable situation. I think that it is an inescapable conclusion when we imagine what would happen if the proposal now before the Committee were accepted.

Mr. Jay

I am not sure that that wholly clears the matter up. I see the hon. Gentleman's point. He says that if retailers were given this power they could put in an application and for a period, whatever it was, suspend the total abolition of r.p.m.

Mr. Shepherd

It would not suspend it, because, as my hon. Friend has said, during this period of time there would be no question of maintaining r.p.m. What it would do would be to expose the manufacturer, at any time after the passing of the Bill, to the danger of some crackpot retailer wanting to initiate an application in respect of his goods.

Mr. Jay

I do not know why the hon. Gentleman should assume that retailers are crackpots any more than manufacturers. The point that I make is that no such action could compel a manufacturer against his will to impose r.p.m. We use the phrase "imposing r.p.m.", but by this, of course, we mean the manufacturer availing himself of the power under Section 25 of the 1956 Act to enforce his prices in Court. This is something which he does not have to do. It is merely something which he does if he wishes. All that this Amendment would do would be to enable any manufacturer, who wished to do so, to take advantage of those legal powers. We do not put the manufacturer in this position against his will, so there is not much in that point.

I agree that it is arguable whether a great deal would be achieved by giving retailers the power to advance these claims. It might be argued that in almost every case where they would wish to do so the manufacturers or wholesalers would wish to do so in any case, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman makes out any case when he says that harm would be done. On his own argument it follows that no harm would be done. He said that unless the manufacturer wished to maintain the resale price it could not be maintained; that if a retailer were to put in a claim without agreement with the manufacturer, nothing could follow unless the manufacturer wished to avail himself of the opportunity.

The only change would be that if the manufacturer wished to avail himself of these powers and agreed with the retailers or retailers' trade association that they should promote the claim this alternative procedure could be followed, but nothing would come of it in the end if the manufacturer did not wish to avail himself of it. That, however, seems to prove my case that no harm would come about. I therefore maintain that this proposal would, in principle, do justice to retailers; that, at worst, no harm would be done and that, at best, we would have a more equitable procedure.

Mr. Bowen

I can understand the distinction being drawn between the position of manufacturers and retailers but, in fact, the operative word is "supplier", which covers all those people who are in the different channels of distribution between the manufacturer and the retailer. The same goods frequently pass from the manufacturer to one wholesaler, then to another wholesaler, and then, perhaps, to someone who is both wholesaler and retailer. As the Clause is worded, each of those wholesalers could make an application, including the wholesaler who is also a retailer, but the man who is a retailer simply and solely would be debarred. If it were said that only the producer of the goods could make the application there would be some logic in it, but there seems very little logic in saying that someone who is a distributor on a wholesale basis can apply while a distributor on a retail basis cannot.

It is said that the retailers will force the hand of either the wholesalers or the manufacturers, which would be a bad practice. The difficulty of that argument is that the Minister has said that if the situation should arise in which the manufacturer or wholesaler took the attitude, "I should like to make an application, but I cannot meet the expense involved, but the retailers share my interest in this matter—we have a common design—and the retailers are in a better position to apply it could be met by the retailers financing the manufacturer's application. If the Minister sees nothing wrong with that process, I see no reason why he should not allow the retailers to make direct application.

Mr. du Cann

If a supplier is a supplier and a retailer he will obviously have to make his application in his capacity of supplier. I do not agree with the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), or with that made by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), because the basic fact is that the practice of resale price maintenance is a practice of the manufacturer or supplier. It is not as though retailers are, so to speak, parties to r.p.m.

The fact is that they have r.p.m. imposed upon them and they are not in a position to enforce it. It is a practice of the manufacturer. In the light of what I said earlier about the opportunities which they have under Clause 8(3), the consideratior that they obviously would be in a position to give expert evidence in the capacity of expert witnesses, I do not think that the proposal in the Clause before the Committee is in any way unfair, but quite the reverse. I think that it is logical and for that reason I invite the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Jay

That was a rather curious speech. The hon. Gentleman makes a sweeping statement that r.p.m. is a practice of manufacturers imposed upon retailers. If that is a fact, I do not know what our debates have been about and what the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) has been putting before us. I thought that, broadly, he was speaking on behalf of the distributors rather than the manufacturers. Is it not perfectly clear that large numbers of retailers are anxious to have r.p.m. maintained, whether they are right or not?

As I have said, r.p.m. cannot be maintained without the agreement and consent of the manufacturer and wholesaler, but to say that because it is imposed upon the retailer therefore only the manufacturer has the right to give the notice seems to me to be completely illogical. The retailer may wish it to be maintained just as much as the manufacturer does. If, therefore, he has the agreement of the manufacturer, why should we exclude him from initiating proceedings?

Mrs. Castle

There is another point which we should bear in mind in this connection. Might there not be a case where a manufacturer might have a divided mind and be quite easy about which way it went, whether r.p.m. was maintained or was abolished, and was prepared to let it go rather than take positive action whereas the retailers would be the ones who would be closest to the consumer and, therefore, better able to judge the importance of the gateway criteria in this Clause?

The provision of the necessary after-service, for example, is a function of the retailer. He is more likely to be intimately aware of what the consequences of the abolition of r.p.m. would be in the matter of the services which the consumer would receive. The same applies to the safety criterion and also to the effect on the number of retail establishments. Surely, therefore, these are judgments which are much more at the retailing than the manufacturing level.

The retailer might feel that the consumer was being misled about the advantage of abolishing r.p.m. The retailer would know the consequences at the retailing level and the manufacturer might be indifferent either way. If the retailer could take the initiative, and have the gateways considered by the Restrictive Practices Court, this might make the manufacturer think again. It is true that if the manufacturer liked to remain obdurate there is nothing that the retailer could do about it, but sometimes second thoughts and more public discussion of these things would bring certain factors to light.

If these advantages to the public in r.p.m. are experienced at retail level they ought to be considered as part of

the issue before the step is taken. In that particular case, therefore, the retailer, by having the opportunity to take the initiative, might change the manufacturer's mind.

9.30 p.m.

Surely it is rather an anomaly that we should have spent so much time in Committee discussing all these gateway items under Clause 5 if it is only the manufacturer's interest that is involved. What is the point of having the gateways? What is the point of all this concern about the effect on the servicing of the goods, safety precautions, the effect on the retail outlets, their accessibility, their number and all the rest of it, if, when it comes to the point, the decision is to be taken purely by the manufacturer and purely from the manufacturer's point of view? In view of all the agitation about resale price maintenance, they might say, "Let it go", whereas the retailer would surely be a more convincing guardian of the public interest with respect to these gateway items.

All we are asking for is a little extra flexibility. In view of the fact that the manufacturer will have the final say in the long run, surely it would be more wise and logical for the Government to accept the Amendment.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 105, Noes 164.

Division No. 86.] AYES [9.31 p.m.
Ainsley, William Evans, Albert Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Fitch, Alan Kenyon, Clifford
Beaney, Alan Fletcher, Eric King, Dr. Horace
Bence, Cyril Foley, Maurice Lawson, George
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Ledger, Ron
Benson, Sir George Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Blyton, William Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Ginsburg, David Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H.W. (Leics, S.W.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lubbock, Eric
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanetly) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Brockway, A. Fenner Hamilton, William (West Fife) MacColl, James
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Harper, Joseph McInnes, James
Carmichael, Neil Hart, Mrs. Judith MacPherson, Malcolm
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Hayman, F. H. Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Chapman, Donald Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Manuel, Archie
Collick, Percy Herbison, Miss Margaret Mason, Roy
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hilton, A. V. Millan, Bruce
Crosland, Anthony Holman, Percy Milne, Edward
Dalyell, Tam Holt, Arthur Mitchison, G. R.
Darling, George Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Morris, Charles (Openshaw)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hunter, A. E. Morris, John (Aberavon)
Dempsey, James Hynd, H. (Accrington) Mutley, Frederick
Diamond, John Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Oliver, G. H.
Dodds, Norman Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) O'Malley, B. K.
Doig, Peter Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Pavitt, Laurence Skeffington, Arthur Wade, Donald
Pentland, Norman Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Wainwright, Edwin
Randall, Harry Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Warbey, William
Redhead, E. C. Small, William Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Sorensen, R. W. Whitlock, William
Robertson, John (Paisley) Steele, Thomas Willey, Frederick
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Stones, William Willis, E. C. (Edinburgh, E.)
Rose, William Taverne, D.
Silkin, John Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Thornton, Ernest Mr. Charles A. Howell and
Mr. Grey.
Allason, James Hall, John (Wycombe) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Atkins, Humphrey Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Pitt, Dame Edith
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Pounder, Rafton
Barber, Rt. Hon. Anthony Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Powell, Rt Hon. J. Enoch
Barlow, Sir John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Batsford, Brian Hay, John Proudfoot, Wilfred
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Pym, Franois
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Peter
Biffen, John Hirst, Geoffrey Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Biggs-Davison, John Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Hocking, Philip N. Rees-Davies, w. R. (Isle of Thanet)
Bishop, Sir Patrick Hogg, Rt. Hon. Quinton Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey
Black, Sir Cyril Holland, Philip Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)
Bossom, Hon. Clive Hughes-Young, Michael Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bourne-Arton, A. Hulbert, Sir Norman Russell, Sir Ronald
Box, Donald Hurd, Sir Anthony Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan
Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Hutchison, Michael Clark Scott-Hopkins, James
Braine, Bernard Iremonger, T. L. Sharples, Richard
Brewis, John Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Shaw, M.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry James, David Shepherd, William
Brown Alen (Tottenham) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Skeet T. H. H.
Bryan Paul Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Smith Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Buck Antony Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Stainton Keith
Campbell, Gordon Kershaw, Anthony Stevens Geoffrey
Chataway Christopher Kirk Peter Stodart, J. A.
Chichester-Clark, R. Lambton, Viscount Storey, Sir Samuel
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Summers, Sir Spencer
Cole, Norman Linstead, Sir Hugh Tapsell, Peter
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Litchfield, Capt. John Temple, John M.
Corfield, F. V. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Coulson, Michael Loveys, Walter H. Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Crowder, F. P. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Cunningham, Sir Knox Maitland, Sir John Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Curran, Charles Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Marshall, Sir Douglas Turner, Colin
Drayson, G. B. Marten, Neil Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
du Cann, Edward Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Duncan, Sir James Mawby, Ray van Straubenzee, W. R.
Eden, Sir John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Vickers, Miss Joan
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Canshatton) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C. Walker, Peter
Elliott, R.W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Mills, Stratton Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Fell, Anthony Miscampbell, Norman Wall, Patrick
Fisher, Nigel Montgomery, Fergus Ward, Dame Irene
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles More, Jasper (Ludlow) Whitelaw, William
Freeth, Denzil Neave, Alroy Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Gammans, Lady Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Glover, Sir Douglas Osborn, John (Hallam) Wise, A. R.
Goodhew, Victor Page, Graham (Crosby) Woodhouse, C. M.
Grant-Ferris, R. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Woodnutt, Mark
Green, Alan Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Gurden, Harold Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Peyton, John Mr. Finlay and Mr. McLaren.

Amendments made: In page 5, line 41, leave out from "suppliers" to end of line 42 and insert: claiming registration in respect of those goods". In line 44, leave out from "shall" to "and" in line 1 on page 6 and insert: cause particulars of the goods, of the person giving the notice and of the arrangements described in the notice to be entered in the register".—[Sir Vaughan-Morgan.]

Mr. du Cann

I beg to move Amendment No. 206, in page 6, line 2, to leave out from "under" to "as" in line 3 and to insert: section 5 of this Act in respect of the goods of which particulars are so entered, or any class of goods, comprising those goods, the foregoing provisions of this Act shall apply in relation to those goods". This is a complicated little matter, but it might be helpful if I were simply to say that the Amendment is consequential on the Amendments introducing the registration procedure. It is both a tidying and a drafting Amendment, and I hope that the Committee will accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)

I beg to move Amendment No. 190, in page 6, line 6, to leave out from the beginning to "proceedings" in line 7 and insert: the classes or descriptions of goods in respect of which particulars are entered in the register kept by him under this section and such list shall indicate the classes or descriptions of goods in respect of which the Court has made an order under section 5 of this Act and in respect of which of them the Court has refused to make such order and in any legal proceedings, including". I shall speak very briefly. My activities have been quite considerable, even though my speeches have been few. I propose to move the Amendment somewhat formally because it forms part of a large number of Amendmens—about eight in all—which have not been selected but which would have made a recast of Clause 6. This Amendment on its own does not amount to anything like the ideas that my hon. Friends and I had in mind, and in a moment I shall ask the Committee for permission to withdraw it so that if this recast is required something can be done about it on Report.

Amendment No. 166, which does not have quite the same effect as all the other Amendments to which I have referred, has, I think, been selected.

The Chairman

I am at fault; I apologise. I should have made it clear that we can discuss with Amendment No. 190 Amendments Nos. 137, 139, 141 and 166.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Hirst

Thank you, Sir William. It is Amendment No. 166 to which I should like briefly to draw attention. It deals with a very important matter. It is to enable suppliers and retailers to know what classes of goods the Registrar has referred to the Court. The Registrar is required to advertise in various gazettes which, apart from alerting them, which is only reasonable, will give suppliers and retailers an opportunity of making such representations as they think fit for consideration. The point is well made in Amendment No. 166.

Because I am being tiresome to the Committee, I hope that these few words will be enough at the proper time to impress upon my right hon. Friend that it is a matter of fairness to allow all to be alerted as to what is going on so that anybody who is interested can directly or indirectly make his voice heard.

Mr. du Cann

I know that I shall be speaking on behalf of every member of the Committee if I say at once that I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) will be able to make his voice heard in the near future and that he will fully recover. If it is any consolation to him in his present misery, he may like to know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has recently been talking to the Soviet Minister of Foreign Trade, Mr. Patolichev, who was similarly not too well during the course of negotiations. He has made a full and complete recovery and I do not doubt that that is a fine precedent for my hon. Friend.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

Am I to understand that the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) got into this difficulty at the secret meetings upstairs

Mr. du Cann

I have no knowledge or experience of secret meetings upstairs with Mr. Patolichev or anybody else, so I therefore think it most unlikely. What my hon. Friend might have been up to with Mr. Patolichev, I cannot imagine. That, however, is another subject.

We are dealing with a number of Amendments in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley and my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore). I will endeavour to assist my hon. Friend in the ways that are open to me. Although he spent most of his time talking about Amendment No. 166, I should like to spend most of my time talking about Amendment No. 190, and particularly—

Mr. Hirst

Perhaps I may refer to the fact that Amendment No. 190 is one of a series of eight Amendments—Nos. 188, 129, 189. 190, 137, 139, 141 and 147, only one of which was selected, but the amalgamation of these Amendments would have made a complete recast of the Clause. I cannot think that the Committee can be very interested in a reply to Amendment No. 190, which is a very small proportion of the whole number. I hope that my time will not be wasted. I am all in favour of shortening these proceedings and I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend will refer to what the Committee is interested in—that is, Amendment No. 166—which refers to an important matter of ensuring that everyone concerned is informed by normal advertising of what is going on.

Mr. du Cann

I am entirely at the disposal of the Committee and of my hon. Friend. My only purpose in mentioning Amendment No. 190 was to make the short point, which I will now make, to the effect that the object of that Amendment is to do two things which are covered by subsequent Amendments which we shall be discussing later. I was about to tell my hon. Friend in greater detail than I will now pursue that we will. I hope, be able to say certain things in respect of those Amendments which will cover the purposes which he has in mind. I assure my hon. Friend that we were trying to be helpful. I have no wish to obstruct the Committee—quite the reverse.

Amendment No. 166 requires the Registrar to advertise in the London Gazette, the Edinburgh Gazette and the Belfast Gazette the fact that he has made a reference to the Court under Clause 5 of an application for a review of a previous decision under Clause 7. Its purpose, as my hon. Friend said—and I assure him that I heard him clearly in spite of his difficulties—is to ensure adequate publicity before any proceedings so that the retailers can make use of their right to be heard by the Court.

I fully accept the purpose underlying the Amendment. But matters of this sort are more appropriately dealt with by rules of court so I can, therefore, assure him that the rules will be so designed as to secure that proper steps are taken by the Registrar to bring any proceedings to the attention of persons likely to be interested. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept my assurance. We accept his purpose and are determined to see that it will be implemented. In these circumstances, perhaps he will be good enough to withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. Hirst

I do not mind what the method is. But, if it is thought that the Registrar should make sure that those who should know are informed, what does it mean? A circular to the manufacture concerned? What we say here is that retailers and suppliers will have at interest in the matter even if no responsibility for it and that they should be informed so that they may make representations through their trade association. If the Registrar is merely to send circulars to interested parties we shall not secure the object. But if it is to be competent on his part to ensure that advertisements are placed in publications like the Gazettes, which are picked up by trade papers in due course, then I accept the assurance. But there should be clarification of this point.

Sir John Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)

I reinforce strongly what my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) said, He is in surprisingly good voice, despite his illness. There is good sense in what he says.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State says that this will be defined in rules of court. I accept that this is probably the right way to do it, but we want it on record that we wish these notices given the widest possible circulation. All hon. Members have sad experiences of the face that so many proposals by the Government are not adequately advertised.

A classic example is a very important matter concerning my constituency, which is in Surrey. The Minister of Transport advertised his proposals in a Kent newspaper, which does not circulate in Surrey. I am sure that the Board of Trade would not allow anything so foolish to happen and will do better than the Minister of Transport.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State gave a list of Gazettes but I notice that the Board of Trade Journal was omitted. I would not suggest that it is the most exciting periodical, but it has a very large circulation, particularly among trade associations. These notifications would certainly be the right kind of thing to put in the Board of Trade Journal. I hope that the Board of Trade Journal will receive its appropriate mention in the rules of court.

Mr. Graham Page

I want to support Amendment No. 166, in page 7, line 41. My hon. Friend the Minister of State gave a firm assurance that something would be included in the rules of court. This is something I should have looked up beforehand. I am not sure who makes the rules of court for the Restrictive Practices Court. In the High Court there is a Rules Committee, in respect of which I doubt whether my hon. Friend could give any undertaking.

Nor am I sure exactly what his undertaking is. Is it that there shall be rules of court which will give the sort of notice indicated in Amendment No. 166? That is what is needed. It should not merely be a notice given by the parties to someone else. Its publication should be the responsibility of the Registrar through the sort of documents, papers and Gazettes whose contents get to the notice of those concerned.

I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to tell us a little more about how he will ensure that the principle of Amendment No. 166 will be carried out and in what form.

Mr. du Cann

We have now had a further intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley. I hope that he is not wearing out. On the other hand, I hope that I shall not put him to further strain by what I have to say. My right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) have also spoken.

My right hon. Friend was good enough to say that he accepted that the rules were the proper means by which these matters should be dealt with. He went on to contrast his experience in Surrey, under the aegis of the Ministry of Transport, with his own opinion of the Board of Trade.

My right hon. Friend has great experience of the Board of Trade, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was as grateful as I was for the confidence that he was good enough to display in us and in that great Department. I can assure him, together with my hon. Friends the Members for Shipley and Crosby, that in this context, at any rate—whatever mistakes we may make in other fields—that confidence will certainly not be misplaced.

I said originally that I fully accepted the purpose underlying the Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have heard what has been said both in general and in particular, and all that will be taken account of in ensuring that the purposes of the Amendment are put into practical effect. "Notice" certainly includes advertisement.

The best way in which I can reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby is to say that these rules are to be made by the Lord Chancellor, and it is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that what I hope was the clear undertaking that I have given to my hon. Friends at this ment—I understand their anxiety—is given with his authority. In other words, we shall see that the points made are fully satisfied.

Mr. Hirst

We must get this much clearer. My hon. Friend is trying to be helpful, but I do not know what the dickens he means. We have asked for a clear statement. Will this be advertised to the public, or will it not? It is not good enough to talk of rules, which I know nothing about. That sort of thing bores me stiff. I want to know, on behalf of the public, whether they, as well as suppliers and retailers, will have the chance to know what is going on. I do not want any legal cloak-and-dagger stuff. Is my hon. Friend prepared to give me the assurance that I require?

Mr. du Cann

There is no question of any legal cloak-and-dagger stuff. Why my hon. Friend should assume that there is from what I have said I cannot think. I thought that I said plainly that "notice" includes advertisement. As for the question asked by my hon. Friend, I am prepared to give a clear answer to it. The answer is "Yes".

Mr. Hirst

I am sure that my hon. Friend gave the right answer, but people were talking around me at the time. Will he repeat what he has just said?

Mr. du Cann

When I rose for the last time I almost asked if my hon. Member's hearing was affected as well as his voice. I appreciate that at that moment he was in special difficulties. The answer is, without any doubt or difficulty, "Yes".

Mr. Hirst

With the assurance that the advertising will be public advertising, and with that assurance alone, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 6, line 6, leave out from "which" to "him" in line 7 and insert: particulars are entered in the register kept by".—[Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan.]

Mr. du Cann

I beg to move, Amendment No. 182, in page 6, line 7, after "any" to insert "legal proceedings including".

The effect of this Amendment can be stated shortly, that the Registrar's list will be available as evidence in any legal proceedings and not merely for proceedings under the Bill. I hope that that may be thought a helpful and proper Amendment to propose to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.