HC Deb 10 December 1964 vol 703 cc1901-3
Mr. Houghton

I wish, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to move three manuscript Amendments of which, I understand, notice has been given to you. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General remarked earlier this afternoon that copies of the three manuscript Amendments were available in the Vote Office, it was hoped that right hon. and hon. Members would avail them- selves of copies so that we could deal with them without inconvenience on Report.

The three manuscript Amendments which I ask leave to move are to fulfil a promise made at 3 o'clock this morning to the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) and to the Committee as a whole that we would assist him and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in finally disposing in a clean and proper manner of the Secretary for Overseas Trade. The Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 which were accepted on behalf of the Government in the early hours of the morning did not, unfortunately, make a clean job of it. I said so at the time and I had available at that hour 500 copies of the manuscript Amendment in the Vote Office in case we were going to deal with it at a later hour this morning. Therefore, with leave, I would beg to move, in Clause 2, page 2, line 10, after "Treasury" to insert: and section 1(2)(b) of that Act (salary of the Secretary for Overseas Trade)". I will also move, in page 5, line 10—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)

Order. The right hon. Gentleman must move only one Amendment.

Mr. Houghton

Very well, Sir. I will move them one at a time and the other two will be consequential. This covers the point which was omitted in Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 which were before the Committee earlier today. The Opposition Amendment was directed only to a consequence that would follow if the office were discontinued. It did not dispose of other provisions for a Secretary for Overseas Trade, nor did it go back to the 1937 Act. I can assure the Committee that this Amendment has been drafted solely to do the job which the Committee wishes done.

The office of Secretary for Overseas Trade ceased to be filled 11 years ago. There has not been a Secretary for Overseas Trade for 11 years and yet provision for him has been made in the Schedule to the 1957 Act and in the Schedule to this Bill. The Amendment moved was to get rid of him and we all joined in the chorus. Despite the looks of perplexity on the brow of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)—who is probably not concentrating on this matter at all—I hope that I carry him with me, and that the House will approve of this Amendment.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman commented upon the expression on my face, allow me to explain what it was. It was one of disgust and nausea that this honourable office should be put an end to by a manuscript Amendment. It follows from the action of the Government in insisting on having the Report stage immediately after the Committee stage that the right hon. Gentleman has to deal with this by a manuscript Amendment. I think that we must protest very strongly at this procedure. I think that it is an abuse of the spirit of the procedure of this House, and that is why I was looking as I did when I did.

Amendment agreed to.