HC Deb 15 July 1964 vol 698 cc1287-8

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 1, after "them" insert "in the United Kingdom".

7.39 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Edward Heath)

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

This is an Amendment for the purpose of clarification. Clause 2(1,b) sets out one of the two grounds on which it is unlawful to withhold supplies from the dealer. The Amendment makes clear that the ground is restricted to a case where the dealer or third party is likely to resell the goods below the recommended price in the United Kingdom. Therefore, "in the United Kingdom" is a clarification of the new Clause.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

This was not one of the major issues raised by the Bill, but I think that the Amendment is a little more than a matter of clarification. Before it is made, the words "in the United Kingdom" do not appear, and it is now proposed that we insert them. Presumably, we thereby alter the meaning. I should like to know that I understand aright the sense in which we are altering the meaning of the Bill. It is such a curious Bill in the form it has now reached that the words of the Amendments do not always mean precisely what one might suppose at first sight.

As I understand it, the effect of the change is this. Before the Amendment, it would have been open to a dealer to prove that a supplier was withholding supplies in the belief or on the ground that the dealer was likely to sell the goods at below the recommended price somewhere outside the United Kingdom. After the Amendment, he will not be able to prove that and he will have to prove that the motive in the mind of the supplier was the fear that he, the dealer or retailer, might sell them within the United Kingdom at below the recommended price.

It is an extremely small change, but, so far as it does anything at all, the Amendment makes it slightly easier for the supplier to withhold supplies and slightly harder for the retailer to prove that the supplier is unlawfully withholding supplies and, accordingly, compel him to supply the goods to him, the retailer.

The right hon. Gentleman did not make this quite clear. I hope that I have got it correct. We have no objection to the Amendment, I think, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is more logical, since the words "in the United Kingdom" appear in paragraph (a), that they should appear also in paragraph (b). I hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) inquire sotto voce whether the words "in the United Kingdom" include Northern Ireland. I should have supposed that, unless otherwise stated, the United Kingdom in our legislation always included Northern Ireland. I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm that those two suppositions are correct.

Mr. Heath indicated assent.

Question put and agreed to.