HC Deb 23 April 1964 vol 693 cc1637-80

Again considered in Committee.

Amendments made: In page 6, line 11, leave out from "which" to "and" in line 12 and insert "particulars are so entered".

In page 6, line 15, leave out from "which" to end of line 16 and insert: particulars are so entered. (4) The Registrar shall also from time to time publish lists of the classes of goods in respect of which the court has made, refused to make or discharged orders under this Act, and any such list may be combined with a list published under subsection (3) of this section.

In page 6, line 17, leave out "any such list" and insert: the lists described in subsection (3) of this section".—[Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan.]

Mr. A. J. Irvine

I beg to move Amendment No. 145, in page 6, line 22, at the end to add but any person who gives notice as provided for in subsection (1) of this section shall be at liberty to represent to the court that any proposed Combination or division of goods into classes is not appropriate".

The Chairman

With this Amendment it will be possible also to discuss Amendments Nos. 146 and 147.

Mr. Irvine

This Amendment deals with the machinery of the Bill governing the operation of lists of classes of goods for the Restrictive Practices Court. The Bill provides that from time to time the Registrar shall publish a list of classes of goods in respect of which notices have been given to him. The Bill goes on, in subsection (4), to say: For the purposes of compiling any such list or of making references to the Court under the said section 5, the Registrar may combine or divide the goods in respect of which notice is given… and then the classes of goods as defined by the Registrar are referred to the Court.

The Amendment gives the supplier applying for exemption to the Court the right to represent to the Court, in any case where it is thought appropriate, that the definition of the class of goods to which the Registrar has resorted is, for some reason, unsatisfactory. This may be quite an important matter. No one would wish that an applicant to the Court for exemption should feel that he was in any way prejudiced or disadvantaged because the goods in which he was interested as an applicant were not, in his sense and view of the matter, properly or satisfactorily consigned to a particular form of classification resorted to by the Registrar. If that were so it would make it much more difficult for him to deploy his case before the Court. It seems wholly desirable that in this respect the applicant, in the presentation of his case—this is a procedural matter—should be given every reasonable advantage.

The case may not often arise, but it may none the less occur from time to time. One can easily place oneself in the position of a supplier desiring to argue his case through counsel before the Court in respect of a particular class or type of goods in which he is interested and finding that his case as presented to the Court is within the context of a classification and allocation of goods made by the Registrar which does not suit the particular supplier's convenience or sense of what is appropriate. Let him have the opportunity of making application to the court.

Mr. Graham Page

I want briefly to support the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) in his Amendment, because the two following Amendments we are discussing with this one, one of which is in my name, only say, in rather more elaborate language, what is said in Amendment No. 145.

The point is that we do not know at this stage what the Registrar will do about classes, whether they will be wide or narrow. We do not know whether, for example, a class will be all cosmetics, all face powders or hair tints or whatever it may be. We do not know whether they will be of specific goods of some description or from wide trades. If any person concerned feels prejudiced by the wide description of class or, on the other hand, by a narrow description, he should be entitled to apply to the Registrar to have the class named. I do not think that this should come under the rules. It is a point of substance, not merely of procedure, which we should mention in the Bill.

Sir H. Linstead

I support the proposal in the Amendment, which raises a point very similar to an Amendment I moved at the beginning of discussion of Clause 5. I sought in that Amendment to ensure that the Court had the right to select certain groups of goods out of the class and to declare that those groups might have the benefit of an exemption even if the whole class in respect of which an application was made should not be exempted. The reply I then got from my hon. Friend the Minister of State was that there was an inherent jurisdiction in the Court to bring such a conclusion about.

I trust that my hon. Friend will be able to say in relation to this Amendment that there is an inherent jurisdiction in the Court to entertain what is virtually a preliminary appeal from a decision of the Registrar before the main case is entered upon, or, if that is not inherent in the Court, the Bill should be so amended as to make perfectly clear that an appeal from the Registrar can go to the Court before the main case is embarked upon.

Mr. du Cann

As has been said by my hon. Friends the Members for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and Putney (Sir H. Linstead) and the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine), the purpose of the three Amendments is to enable a supplier to apply to the Court to include goods within or to exclude goods from the reference made by the Registrar to the Court.

We have already given consideration to this matter and we listened to the arguments put forward in the short debate with some attention. I sympathise with the view that there should be some right of appeal against the Registrar's determination of the goods to be included in the reference. I feel very doubtful whether the right of appeal should extend to persons who are not parties to the proceedings, because there would be great danger in that and it be going too far. None the less, I willingly give the Committee the assurance that if the hon and learned Member is good enough to withdraw the Amendment, we are certainly ready to look at the matter again with a view to putting down an Amendment at a later stage.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

I am grateful for that undertaking, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

  2. cc1644-54
  4. cc1654-62
  5. Clause 11.—(INTERPRETATI0N.) 3,238 words
  6. cc1662-9
  7. Clause 13.—(SAVING FOR STATUTORY SCHEMES.) 2,741 words
  8. cc1669-73
  10. cc1673-8
  11. New Clause.—(RIGHT OF REAPPEARANCE.) 2,191 words
  12. cc1678-80
  13. Schedule.—(TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS.) 791 words