HC Deb 24 June 1964 vol 697 cc463-91
Mr. A. J. Irvine

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out "subsection (5)" and to insert "subsections (5) and (6)".

Mr. Speaker

I understand that it will be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 121, in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends: In page 2, line 17, at end insert: (6) Any hire-purchase agreement or credit-sale agreement made after the coming into operation of this Act in respect of which a person acts as agent of the owner or seller shall contain a statement to that effect and of the amount of commission paid or payable to such person in respect of the subject-matter of the agreement and if either a statement is not contained as aforesaid or is contained but expresses an amount of com mission in excess of twelve and one half per cent. of the hire-purchase charge on the good: thereby agreed to be hired or sold the agree ment shall be deemed never to have beer enforceable.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Irvine

Our purpose is to put some kind of limit upon the element of commission charged in hire-purchase agreements. The first Amendment paves the way to Amendment No. 121, which contains the substance of our proposal The effect of our proposal, which would apply to both hire-purchase agreements and credit-sale agreements, would be that, in all instances taking effect after this Bill comes into operation, where a person acted as agent of the owner or seller, the fact should be recorded in the agreement. Where there was such an agent there would be, additionally, as a provision in the contract, a statement as to the commission the agent was receiving on the deal. If that statement expressed an amount in excess of 12½ per cent. of the hire-purchase charge on the goods thereby agreed to be hired or sold, the agreement would be deemed never to have been enforceable.

We are concerned in principle with the issues raised by the matter of dealers' commissions. A great deal of emphasis has been placed during the course of debates on the Bill on the circumstance that hire-purchase legislation is basically consumer protection legislation. This Amendment is manifestly entirely designated to increase the benefit to the consumer and the hirer. There is no desire to suggest that a scale of commission is necessarily or, indeed, as a matter of narrative, a commission factor present in hire-purchase transactions, but when one is legislating on a matter of this kind it is necessary to have safeguards ready against the perhaps unlikely event of a hire-purchase transaction being made subject to an extortionate or oppressive level of commission paid to the dealer. This is an endeavour to meet that sort of difficulty, to curb the payment of commissions at too high a level to dealers and, under this important head, to give further and, we believe, needed protection to consumers.

Mr. Silkin

I support the Amendment, which must be seen in the context of the number of hire-purchase transactions dealing with motor cars which take place every year. There are nearly I million of them, a large total indeed, and we have come to the rather strange situation that it pays a motor car dealer better if the customer buys the car on hire purchase than if he pays cash because the question of the dealer's commission is now the pre-eminent consideration from the dealer's point of view. Indeed, I believe there are cases where dealers have almost gone down on their knees to implore the customer to buy on hire purchase rather than pay cash.

When one talks about the dealer's commission one must realise that this commission, indirectly, is paid by the hire purchaser in the variety of transactions which take place throughout the country. I do not know what difference it makes to hire-purchase charges, but it must be considerable. In this Amendment my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) is seeking to restrict the dealer's commission to 12½ per cent. of the hire-purchase charge. On a motor car with a total hire-purchase value of, say, £2,000, 12½ per cent. might come to £25. We are, therefore, talking about relatively large sums of money in connection with each transaction.

There are other reasons why I find the question of the dealer's commission a little repugnant. If one talks in terms of the sale of a house it is, as far as I know, usually the vendor who pays the commission and not the purchaser. Here the boot is rather on the other foot. I expect that the finance houses theoretically pay it, but all hon. Members will agree that, in fact, the hirer himself finds this burden eventually falling upon him.

Dr. Bennett

Hear. hear.

Mr. Silkin

I am glad to see that I have some support from the benches opposite.

In these circumstances is it not right that we should show the hirer exactly what he is letting himself in for? Should we not put a limit on the amount of commission that may be charged? To do this would be bound to have two beneficial effects; first, it would stop what I believe is quite prevalent in finance house business—touting for dealers—and, secondly, we would stop this inevitable charge being levied on the hirer, perhaps indirectly, but nevertheless really—a charge which I regard as repugnant and wrong. It is for these reasons that I support the Amendment.

Mr. R. E. Winterbottom (Sheffield, Brightside)

I apologise for not having intervened in the discussion earlier. I was not a member of the Committee upstairs, although this is a subject in which I am particularly interested. My interest in it leads me to wonder what the Amendment is all about. If it is accepted, will it mean that the Bill will go further than its title would indicate; further than matters of hire purchase? That would seem to be the effect, because the Amendment talks of credit-sale agreements.

I should like to know how prevalent credit-sale agreements are compared with the general run of hire-purchase agreements. I support the principle of the Amendment and the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine), certainly when those remarks are applied to hire-purchase transactions. I appreciate the necessity for the hirer to have some knowledge of the details of the agreement, particularly of the amount being paid to the dealer in commission.

Are not credit-sale agreements much wider in their implications than hire-purchase transactions? Indeed, are not the ramifications of hire-purchase agreements peculiar to those types of agreement, outwith transactions involving credit sales? For example, in a short-term credit sale, possibly with no agreement at all, it is possible for the length of the term of repayment to be extended over a longer period—subject, of course, to the necessary poundage being paid—although the credit-sale agreement remains known as a short-term agreement.

That is why I want to know how far the Amendment would go in the control of credit trade in this country as distinct from the control of hire purchase. There are many forms of credit trade, for example direct credit trade or check credit trade. Under both forms there is a development which impinges on hire purchase. Are credit sales eliminated by the Bill? If not, I see dangers in this proposal.

How will the 12½ per cent. be applied? Will it be applied to the commission paid to an agent who collects from door to door on a credit basis? Is the 12½ per cent. to be reckoned on the interest charged under a credit-trade agreement, which is Is. in the £ over 20 weeks, which, in terms of the interest involved in the ramifications between the check trading company and the seller of the goods, can be multiplied to a very high rate of interest on the money. Or is it 12½ per cent. of the purchase price? If so, this agreement will lower somebody's wages.

Mr. Darling

Generally speaking, the Amendment would apply only to hire-purchase agreements. Where a creditsale agreement—and it must be an agreement, not the kind of credit sale about which my hon. Friend is talking—involves giving a commission to the agent who has brought the trade, then the Amendment provides that the commission must be mentioned in the agreement and that it must not exceed 12½ per cent. of the charges which are made for the hire-purchase arrangements.

Mr. Winterbottom

If that is so, we are treading on very dangerous ground and opening the door to practices in short-credit trading which may be very dangerous. I should not like to see some of these practices develop. I should like to see some control of the short-term credit sales and of the hire-purchase agreements, for if we are leaving one wing of credit-sale distribution uncontrolled and are controlling the other wing, then there are dangers that malpractices in the uncontrolled wing will start to dominate the other. Some goods are sold in this country not on hire purchase but on credit sale which normally would be sold on hire-purchase agreements. They are sold without any agreement at all and on the basis of short-term credit. This is manipulated by ordinary administrative methods which are used in the short-term credit industry.

I am afraid that if this provision were made it would affect the whole of credit-sale agreements as distinct from only those which are covered by hire-purchase agreements. If so, it would affect wages, because many of the agents in the check credit business are the best paid men in distribution. They get a wage which is far more than 12½ per cent. commission on the checks of which they dispose, for supply by the dealer with whom the firm for which they work is in agreement. There ought to be an elimination of short-term credit sales from this proposal. The provision should apply only to hire purchase.

If we introduce into the Bill a provision which can be interpreted far wider than sales on hire purchase, then in my opinion all kinds of difficulties will arise between the various sections of credit. I am sorry that the words "credit-sale agreement" have crept into the Amendment because with the exception of those words I can support it.

6.45 p.m.

Dr. Bennett

I confess to having considerable sympathy with the Amendment. We have hire-purchase legislation before the House at a moment of considerable crisis within the industry, particularly in the matter to which the Amendment would apply. We have recently seen a "running amok", or the early stages of "running amok", in the hire-purchase business. It was well summed up in an article in the Financial Times on 9th June, which began: It must be counted a matter for great regret that the Ford Motor Co's. bid to establish itself in the hire purchase business is largely taking the form of offering to pay commissions to motor dealers for introducing transactions that are materially in excess of the ceiling set by the Finance Houses Association code. Later the article reads: …there can be little doubt that when the council of the Finance Houses Association meets shortly to discuss what should be done to counter this threat, there will be a good deal of support for the proposal that such competition should be answered in the only way in which it can be effectively answered in the short run—by suspending the commissions code so that Ford can be beaten at its own game". This is a most terrifying prospect, and I am most alarmed by it. I think that we should all like to see the abolition of, or the limiting of this kick-back. The motor dealer does not do too badly. He names his own profit on the sale of the car. I think that it is nearly always cars which we have in mind in these matters. Why should he claim a percentage of the extra hire-purchase charges which he can obtain by persuading a customer to take something on hire-purchase instead of paying cash?

This is a deplorable affair, and it is our duty to try to abolish or limit this kind of thing. I know that the difficulties are great. I have a sneaking suspicion that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary regards it as impossible, because one argument which can be used is that if they cannot get their extra second commission that way, they can stick a bit on the price. But it would be a form of direct competition in selling cars if it were put on the price.

I feel that we have a duty to try to check this practice. At the moment people in this country are being subjected to a price war in commissions, a sort of auction sale by which the highest bidders will get the prize and the highest commissions to the motor dealers will secure the hire-purchase business from them. I therefore think that we have a desperate duty to try to do something to check this practice.

The trouble is that, as far as I can see, the business done, particularly the motor-car business, is through these dealers, and it is the dealers who introduce the business to the finance houses. I do not see how the finance house trade can advertise directly to the customer that their charges are lower than the other chap's. It would be a good thing, except that the attempts to advertise in this way would be much too diffuse. But there ought to be some way of making known to the public the extent of the commission which the hirer must pay to the motor dealer. It should be made public that the companies which give least commission to the motor dealer are those which in the end charge the hirer least. This is a consumer protection Bill, and this is the kind of provision which we need in consumer protection. I am strongly of the opinion that we ought to abolish, or at best diminish, these commissions. That is why I think that there is a great deal to be said for the Amendment, which tries to do a most important job.

Mr. Bingham

I rise shortly to echo some of the sentiments expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) and my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett). If the dealer, in acting as the person who introduces the finance company to the hirer, is acting as agent of the hirer in that transaction, the whole legal basis of the payment of these commissions is in doubt, because a payment to the agent of a principal by the other party to the contract is a secret commission, in the eyes of the common law a bribe, and is recoverable. But I can readily see that in fact the dealer is not in law an agent of the hirer for this purpose.

But although in law that is not his position, in practice many hirers or purchasers who consult a dealer look upon him as one who will give them guidance as to the hire-purchase company with which they should deal. I feel that if the dealer is receiving what in common parlance is a back-hander from the finance company, he should tell the hirer at the time. It is not the dealer in the long run who will have to pay the back-hander; it will be charged against the hirer.

One doubts whether the general public appreciate that some finance houses give commissions in this way. One doubts whether the public understands that. The method of dealing with the situation proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Edge Hill may not be the best method, but I echo the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham that in general this practice is extremely undesirable, that publicity ought to be given to it and that discriminating hirers ought to realise that the finance houses which give no dealers' commission are in the long run the best finance houses with which to deal.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

I am not a lawyer or a financial expert. I merely want to say a word on this matter as it appears to me as a prospective consumer. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of need for the public to be educated in this matter about what they are paying and who gets the rake-off. It is, neverthless, within their competence to be educated, but I am not sure that it is part of our job to legislate for consumer protection to the extent of putting everything into Bills and making it impossible for people to make their own mistakes. If they are inclined to make mistakes in paying too much and thus giving too much profit to a finance house or an agent, it is up to them to remedy this by trying to get something cheaper.

I am not sure that I am in entire sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett), who seemed to indicate that a fair amount of competition was coming into the business of paying for agents. This should help to bring down the charge to the consumer.

Mr. Darling

No. It has the other effect.

Dr. Bennett

The competition is to pay the agents more so as to get the best from them. The poor consumer does not come into this.

Mr. Lewis

I thank my hon. Friend for putting me right. Obviously, I got it the wrong way round.

Nevertheless, it is clearly a matter of competition, and this applies not only to motor cars, of which we have heard a good deal, but to the whole range of consumer goods which are sold on hire purchase. The total cost of the article must be a matter for competition.

I do not know whether I am correct, but I wonder whether we have ever legislated for a fixed profit. I cannot think that there is any such legislation. It would be an extremely dangerous precedent. [Interruption.] To pass the Amendment would mean fixing a percentage. In this case, as so often happens elsewhere, the ceiling would become the general level.

Mr. Winterbottom

Is it within the hon. Member's knowledge that the Board of Trade fixed a rate of interest both for long-term and short-term credits in 1958, in regulations which were presented under an Act of Parliament?

Mr. Lewis

I accept that, but it is not on all fours with fixing a rate of commission.

Mr. Bingham

Most of the remarks have been directed not only to the 12½ per cent., which would be an excessive amount, but to publicity concerning the percentage of the hire-purchase charge which goes in dealers' secret commission.

Mr. Lewis

I agree. Nevertheless, it would be a dangerous precedent to fix a percentage of that kind. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham) has said, the figure suggested is rather high. I repeat that this is a matter of educating and informing the public.

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

How can they be educated about something that is secret?

Mr. Lewis

If something is secret, it is being kept secret. I suggest that information should be given to the public. If the finance houses are involved, clearly, if they want to maintain their reputation, they would participate in informing the public. The Board of Trade can take a hand in this. It seems to me a better way to deal with it than to legislate in the manner proposed by the Amendment.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. J. Robertson

If the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) extended his reasoning to our activity here, we would soon be out of business. The only purpose of the Bill is to deal with the problems which have arisen in hire purchase. If those difficulties had not arisen and complaints had not been made, we would not have had the Bill. There is no doubt that the consumer needs protection, and that is the purpose of the Bill.

One of the greatest concerns which has been expressed, on Second Reading, upstairs in Committee and elsewhere, has been the position of the finance house in all this business. Hon. Members have told us that finance houses are reasonable people and would not do any of the things which we on this side have spoken about. The responsibility is, however, that of the finance house. Where finance houses go so gravely wrong is that they do not make any check upon the activity of, for example, garage owners dealing in second-hand cars or the activities of their agents or dealers who sell goods and act as agents. By paying commission, they are encouraging dealers and agents to make bargains with people who obviously are not creditworthy and with whom the agreement should not be made. One of the main criticisms of the finance houses is that they shrug off their responsibility in this regard.

What we say in the Amendment is that at least we should try to limit that aspect of the matter. In Scotland, in particular, one shudders at the idea of firms like Napier pushing dealers and agents with secret commissions to make sales to people who obviously are a bad risk.

Mr. K. Lewis

There is no secrecy about the fact that commission is paid to people to sell goods on hire purchase. It is well known. Nobody keeps it secret.

Mr. Robertson

I do not disagree. My concern is with two aspects: that there should be commission at all, and the way it is done. I do not mind people making a reasonable profit. They have to live. Nobody knows, however, the way in which this is worked. Certainly, the hirer can never find exactly what he pays to the dealer for the privilege of making a bargain with him or, through him, with the finance house. What is even worse than the activity of the dealer is that the finance house which really is responsible stands back, washes its hands of the whole affair and disclaims responsibility.

In that regard, the finance houses show great irresponsibility. Anyone who has had to deal with his constituents concerning hire purchase knows that this is where the evil begins. No check is made with the potential hirer. The dealer has no desire to do so. He wants his commission and to make the deal, and the finance house is not concerned.

If there are finance houses which do not do that kind of thing the Amendment certainly would help them. It would keep a lot of people in Scotland out of the small debt courts, which had the fantastic number of 109,000 cases in one year. It would keep a lot of those people out of the courts and out of the clutches of the finance houses.

Mr. D. Price

It was nice to have interventions from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brigftside (Mr. Winterbottom) and my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis,", who were not with us much during our deliberations in Committee. The question of commissions being paid by finance houses to dealers who bring them hire-purchase business has been the subject of a good deal of discussion. It was debated in another place and it has been debated upstairs.

Opinions differ on the question of principle. Some people regard these commissions which are paid for the introduction of business as wholly bad. That was the view expressed by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson). It was the conclusion reached by the Molony Committee in paragraph 562 of its Report, although for practical reasons that Committee decided against recommending statutory prohibition. Other people take the view that these commissions should be restricted to a fixed maximum. That is the system which the Amendment attempts to assist. Other people take a third view that these commissions are in principle no different from commissions paid in other walks of life for the introduction of business.

On a point of fact, I should like to answer a point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham). Although my hon. and learned Friend may perhaps know of one, my understanding is that there are no finance houses which operate without taking commission. Therefore, what we are discussing is an established practice.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) pointed out, there is a code of practice amongst the finance houses and I understand that hitherto they have recommended 15 per cent. as their commission rate. Those who feel that as a matter of consumer protection something should be done about dealers' commissions do so because they believe that the result of the payment of commissions is directly reflected in the level of hire-purchase charges. Therefore, they argue that if commissions were prohibited, charges would come down. This was the argument of the hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin).

I see the argument, but I have doubts about it. I cannot help feeling that, in practice, these commissions are one element in the income of the dealer. If he were to lose them, I am not certain that in the long run he would not try to make up that amount of income in the price of the goods which he sells.

In support of that view, which I cannot express definitively, may I quote a letter in the Financial Times on 8th May, from a director of a finance house, who said: Hire-purchase commission is taken into account by the motor trade when fixing a price for trade-ins. Having said that on an issue of principle, I turn now to the practicalities. As the Molony Committee recognised, the plain fact is that a statutory prohibition or limitation of commissions could not be enforced. Having expressed the view that it did not like commissions, the Molony Committee said: However, we do not think that the prohibition of the Australian Acts ought to be adopted, for the reason, which we regretfully recognise. that it is impossible to stop such practices. That was the Committee's view. We have pointed it out each time that proposals of this kind have been put forward. The ways in which a finance house can reward a dealer who brings it his hire-purchase business are numerous. The crudest is the cash payment, which can be difficult to trace. Even where there was evidence of payments in cash or other benefits by the finance house to a dealer, it might be very difficult to relate such cash transactions to particular hire-purchase transactions and show that in fact the cash had been paid as a commission.

But, apart from that, we have to recognise that dealers perform a variety of services for finance houses, and very often bear a degree of the risk. I believe that they are entitled to be paid for legitimate activities which are spread beyond those of simply introducing the business to the finance house. The rate, which naturally depends on what services they give, and what risks they are asked to bear by the finance houses, is a matter which must be left to agreement between the parties. Equally, however, payments of this kind could easily be used to conceal rewards for the introduction of business.

The suggestion in the Amendment is that excessive commissions should render the agreement unenforceable. I do not see the practicality of that. A hirer would have no way of finding out what commission had been paid. The logical conclusion at which those who advocate prohibition or limitation of commissions must arrive is that breaches should constitute criminal offences. Obviously, however, a criminal offence should not be created where it is known that enforcement would be virtually impossible, and no doubt the hon. Gentleman had this in mind in not including criminal penalties in the Amendment.

When this matter was discussed in Committee, I said that I thought that the choice lay between doing nothing and prohibiting commissions, subject to criminal penalties. I saw no merit in a half-way house which attempted to impose a limitation. But I also drew attention to the practical difficulties of enforcement which, in our view, are quite overriding. I therefore cannot ask the House to accept the Amendment, and I shall not bother the House with certain deficiencies in the drafting of it, though I should mention that, as the Amendment stands, the finance houses would be permitted to pay as much commission as they liked, provided that they were careful not to insert in the agreement a figure in excess of 12½ per cent. of the hire-purchase charges.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) mentioned the question of Ford's paying a higher commission than has been customary amongst finance houses. Ford's says that its charges are no higher than those it found in the market. Although it is alleged that Ford's pays a higher commission to the dealer, the company maintains that the end price to the hirer is no higher than that charged by the finance houses who pay a lower commission. We need not go into the arguments on the matter. I just say that that is the firm's riposte.

But if competition to pay higher commissions is reflected in higher charges, then I believe that there should be opportunities for those finance houses which are not minded to get involved in this race to appeal directly to the public by offering more favourable terms. It is not true that finance houses can go on pushing up charges by giving dealers bigger and bigger commissions, without getting some reaction from the public. During the course of our discussions on the Bill we have all agreed that hire purchase is about the most expensive way of buying anything. If, to get more business, a certain finance house pays bigger commissions, it cannot contain those within its charges in some other way and puts up its charges, that will produce sales resistance to buying things on hire-purchase.

The House should remember that under the Bill anyone who advertises or solicits for hire-purchase business has to give the true rate of interest. If the arguments which have been deployed are carried out, that figure will be very high.

Dr. Bennett

The true rate of interest being the rate of interest on the loan, but not the percentage. They do not have to give the percentage paid to the dealer.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Price

No, but they have to give the total charges. The total hire-purchase price has to be included. This includes a charge for the use of the loan. My hon. Friend knows that the dealer's commission is not added as an extra oncost to the hire-purchase price, but it is no doubt included in the general spread of overheads in the actual hire-purchase charges, which are included in the total hire-purchase price. Therefore, indirectly it is included.

Mr. Winterbortom

The simple interest charged on the capital involved, and the total over the period, are usually given, but the total amount to be paid does not represent the total interest that is paid, because the money is paid at such intervals of time as enables compound interest to be charged.

Mr. Price

The hon. Gentleman has not been present during the whole of the debate. If he looks at page 54 of the Bill, he will see an attractive little formula which takes all the facts into account. It is the true rate of interest formula.

I conclude by saying that it would not be practical to prohibit commissions, because they would have to have a criminal sanction behind them. I do not think that the half-way house, being a compromise, will commend itself to the House, and I therefore ask the House to leave the matter where it is.

Mr. Bingham

I appreciate what my hon. Friend says about the impossibility of limiting or prohibiting the maximum charge, but what does he say about the other point of the Amendment, namely, publicising the rate of commission?

Mr. Price

I am advised that, providing a finance house announces a rate of commission which is not in excess of 12½ per cent., that is all right. There is nothing to prevent a finance house paying a dealer an extra 3 or 4 per cent. in some other way. Thus, the publication of that information in the agreement would not meet the intention of the Amendment, which is to limit commissions to 12½ per cent.

Mr. Darling

I am not surprised that the drafting of the Amendment has been criticised, just as others which we have tabled may be criticised. After all, we have had the extraordinary job of trying to put right what the Government have produced without the help which the hon. Gentleman and his Department receive. It may be that we have made a mistake in the drafting, but the purpose of the Amendment is clear and it seems to me that as drafted it would achieve what we want.

I think that the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham) expressed the issues quite clearly when he said that commissions ought to be disclosed, and that the practice of paying secret commissions was undesirable. Merely to ask that the commission should be disclosed, though in itself desirable, would not achieve our object, which is to keep down commissions or abolish them altogether.

The Parliamentary Secretary has told us that if he had to choose between abolition and restriction of the amount, he would prefer abolition. But there are practical difficulties here, as the Molony Committee and other people have pointed out. After having quite a long discussion among ourselves, we therefore put down this Amendment to limit the commissions, for two purposes—largely because we were persuaded that abolition would be very difficult and could easily be evaded, but also because by putting down the limitation we had two lines of attack. The commission had to be disclosed, and the problem of excessive charges was tackled.

When the Parliamentary Secretary has tried to deal with the constructive Amendments that we have put forward he has painted a picture that has varied constantly from Clause to Clause and from Amendment to Amendment. There is no consistency in this. He talks about all the difficulties that buyers have in going round and making sure they get proper service and then, on other occasions, he insists that the buyers must behave responsibly, and that it is up to them to see that they are not defrauded. A little while ago he was painting for us a picture which I am sure does not exist anywhere—a picture of buyers going round from dealer to dealer to ask what his commission is, and finishing up by going to the one who is receiving the lowest commission.

Car buyers do not operate in that way. They are faced with secret commissions, and there are very few customers, for cars, washing machines or whatever it may be, who, when presented with the agreement which lays down the hire-purchase charges, are capable of working it all out. I admit that the new Clause will help here, because the true rate of interest has got to be put down. But customers cannot work out what the hire-purchase charges mean, or how much they have added to the purchase price.

Very few customers make these calculations. They want to end up with what they think is a fair hire-purchase charge to add to the cash price. We know very well that the advertised charges will be laid down by law, and that under the new Clause the true rate of interest will have to be charged, but this will be meaningless to most customers. I cannot see customers going round the country to find out which car dealer is getting the lowest commission.

Mr. K. Lewis

Why should they want to know what the commissions are? If a customer goes round from dealer to dealer he does so because he wants to know what the price is for cash and what the price is on hire purchase. He gets a price from each, and is able to relate one price to the other, whether for hire purchase or cash. If, in Birmingham, one is buying a suit made in London, one does not ask what rate of commission is paid to a dealer in London.

Mr. Darling

I agree entirely. I was using this argument against the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. Lewis

What the hon. Member was suggesting was that there is a secret commission and that it should be made public. The point is that the public can discern it if they get comparative prices.

Mr. Darling

They cannot. I am coming to the question of commissions. The Parliamentary Secretary has said there are difficulties about enforcement. We admit that, but I think that he exaggerates the difficulties. We have got to remember that the members of the Finance Houses Association have, largely successfully, run their own voluntary limitation scheme. The voluntary limitation scheme has frequently got out of hand, however, when a "maverick" company has decided to break away from the voluntary agreement, and, to attract more trade to itself, has started paying higher commissions so that dealers will bring more trade to it.

On occasions, the commission war that broke out among the members of the Finance Houses Association some time ago caused commissions to go up to 40 per cent. of the hire-purchase price. This is quite indefensible, and it is no use saying that these commissions do not affect the price. In the end the customer has to pay for these commissions.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I think that the hon. Member made a slip of the tongue. He referred to 40 per cent. of the hire-purchase price.

Mr. Darling

I am sorry. All the time we are talking about a percentage of the hire-purchase charge. We originally spoke about 1 per cent. of the hire-purchase price, but changed it to 12½ per cent. of the hire-purchase charge in order to make it quite clear that we were talking about commission on hire-purchase charges. During this war, which occurred not very long ago, commissions rose in some cases to 40 per cent. of the hire-purchase charges.

In this debate and in Committee many hon. Members quoted the Financial Times, which has been leading, for very good practical reasons, a campaign against secret commissions. I would like to quote from an article that appeared in the Financial Times on this subject on 17th February. The first quotation reads: It must be counted remarkable that although its sole purpose is to provide the public with better protection against abuses of the deferred payments system the Hire Purchase Bill now before Parliament makes no attempt to do anything about something that is almost certainly the biggest evil in this sector of the consumer credit field today—the payment of excessive introductory commissions by finance houses to dealers at the public's expense. The second, rather longer, quotation reads: It is worth recalling that most of the leading hire purchase finance houses were so far persuaded a few years ago that the practice of competing for business by offering big commissions to motor dealers was a bad thing in the industry as well as for the public itself that they agreed between themselves to limit such payments to 10 per cent. of the hire purchase charge—in the commissions war that had been raging previously such payments have gone up to 40 per cent. and more of the charge. It was their full intention that this should be the first move towards the virtual elimination of such payments which it was generally recognised had little—if any—economic justification. I agree. I stand entirely with the arguments put forward. But the point is that the commissions went up to 40 per cent. of the charges because people started competing in the business on the basis of raising their commissions to attract trade

As I have just said, and as the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) mentioned, there is another "maverick" coming into the business—the Ford motor credit arrangement. The Parliamentary Secretary has said that the Ford Motor Company has assured him that though it is already arranging to put its commissions up to 17 or 25 per cent. of the charges it will so arrange commissions that it will make no difference to the price the customers will pay for the cars. This is very difficult to believe, and without further evidence I am not going to accept it. The mere fact that the Ford Motor Company is going into the business in this way means that the members of the Finance Houses Association have to review their position.

I would like to quote a letter that I have had in response to one that I sent to one of the directors of a prominent finance house on this very issue. He said: The standard commission terms that have been laid down by Ford for their dealers are, generally speaking, more favourable to the dealers than companies who are members of the Finance Houses Association are allowed to offer. The Ford minimum commission is 17 per cent. of the charges rising to as high as 24 per cent. of charges where the hire purchase risk is shared between the finance company and the dealer. There is little doubt that unless the Finance Houses Association drastically amends the commission part of its Code, much Ford business is going to be lost by its members and it is fairly clear…that the Finance Houses Association is not going to allow that to happen. The Code "— that is the limitation of commission, the voluntary limitation— so far has. on the whole, been well observed by F.H.A. members, in spite of an increasing loss of business to non-members not so restricted, but the intervention of the Ford scheme is, I am afraid, going to act as the last straw. The finance companies are discussing the desirability of the commission part of the F.H.C. Code being abandoned completely and I think there is little doubt that most of the companies will regretfully agree that this will have to be the decision. After all, there comes a time when even the staunchest upholders of a principle are going to come to the conclusion that to continue to uphold it will be tantamount to suicide. 7.30 p.m.

That may be an exaggerated view, but it is the considered view of one of the directors of a prominent finance company. This is the situation. It may not only be Ford's. We must not forget that we are legislating not for the situation today, but for some time ahead, until we come to the job of consolidating this legislation. Other "mavericks" may come into the business and drive up the commission charges, and the customer will have to pay.

An argument against the Amendment is that enforcement would be difficult. I disagree, for the reasons which I have given, that the voluntary scheme of limitation has worked fairly satisfactorily. If there were just an element of legal sanction behind that scheme it would have been completely satisfactory. That is all we are asking for. Although the question of enforcement in a court of law might be difficult we ask that this voluntary code be given an element of sanction which I think we ought to provide.

The other argument advanced against the Amendment is the curious one that commissions cannot be limited and ought to be abolished. I think that I have answered that. The reason we put in limitation is that it helps enforcement. We could have two bites at it, there could be two lines of attack. We could ask people how much commission they were charging and they would have to declare the amount. It would be illegal for them not to do so. I am extremely sorry that this is the last stage in the passage of the Bill. We cannot send any Amendments from here to be dealt with by another place.

The Board of Trade has given no help whatever. The Government know very well that they can use the argument that this is badly drafted because there is no other stage to which we can take it. We protest at the way in which the Board of Trade is dealing with this matter—remembering that there are 94 Government Amendments on this stage of the Bill—and I suggest that we should take our protest to a Division.

Question put, That "subsection (5)" stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 157, Noes 125.

Division No. 116.] AYES [7.35 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Arbuthnot, Sir John Gammans, Lady Kerby, Capt. Henry
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) Gardner, Edward Kershaw, Anthony
Barlow, Sir John George, Sir John (Pollok) Kimball, Marcus
Barter, John Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Kirk, Peter
Barsford, Brian Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Leavey, J. A.
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Biggs-Davison, John Grant-Ferris, R. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bingham, R. M. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Litchfield, Capt. John
Bishop, Sir Patrick Grosvenor, Lord Robert Longbottom, Charles
Black, Sir Cyril Gurden, Harold Longden, Gilbert
Bourne-Arton, A. Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Braine, Bernard Harris, Reader (Heston) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) McLaren, Martin
Buck, Antony Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Burden, F. A. Harvie Anderson, Miss McMaster, Stanley R.
Chichester-Clark, R. Henderson, Sir John (Cathcart) Maddan, Martin
Cleaver, Leonard Hiley, Joseph Maitland, Sir John
Cooke, Robert Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Marshall, Sir Douglas
Cooper, A. E. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Maxwell-Hystop, R. J.
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hirst, Geoffrey Maydon, Lt.-Cbdr. S. L. C.
Cordle, John Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Mille, Stratton
Coulson, Michael Hocking, Philip N. Miscampbell, Norman
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Montgomery, Fergus
Curran, Charles Hornsby-Smlth, Rt. Hon. Dame P. More, Jasper (Ludlow)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Morrison, Charies (Devizes)
Doughty, Charles Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hughes-Young, Michael Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir- Richard
Elllott, R. W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Hutchison, Michael Clark Oakshott, Sir Hendrie
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Iremonger, T, L. Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Hendon, North)
Fell, Anthony Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Finlay, Graeme James, David Osborne, Sir Cynt (Louth)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jennings, J. C. Page, John (Harrow, West)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Partridge, E.
Freeth, Denzil Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Percival, Ian
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Pitman, Sir James Skeet, T. H. H. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Pitt, Dame Edith Speir, Rupert van Straubenzee W. R.
Pounder, Rafton Stainton, Keith Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Stanley, Hon. Richard Vickers, Miss Joan
Price, David (Eastleigh) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Ward, Dame Irene
Proudfoot, Wilfred Stodart, J. A. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pym, Francis Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Whitelaw, William
Quennell, Mies J. M. Storey, Sir Samuel Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Studholme, Sir Henry Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Renton, Rt, Hon. David Summers, Sir Spencer Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side) Wise, A. R.
Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Teeling, Sir William Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Roots, William Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin Woollam, John
Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey) Tlley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Scott-Hopkins, James Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Shepherd, William Turner, Colin Mr. MacArthur and
Mr. Hugh Rees.
Ainsley, William Hamilton, William (West Fife) Oswald, Thomas
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Harper, Joseph Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hayman, F. H. Pentland, Norman
Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central) Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Popplewell, Ernest
Bacon, Miss Alice Herblson, Miss Margaret Probert, Arthur
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hilton, A. V. Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Benson, Sir George Holman, Percy Redhead, E. C.
Blackburn, F. Holt, Arthur Reynolds, G. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Houghton, Douglas Rhodes, H.
Bowden, Rt, Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.) Hoy, James H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hughes, Ciedwyn (Anglesey) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Bowles, Frank Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Ross, William
Boyden, James Hunter, A. E. Short, Edward
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Silkin, John
Bradley, Tom Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney C.) Janner, Sir Barnett Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Collick, Percy Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Small, William
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jeger, George Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Snow, Julian
Dalyell, Tam Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Soakice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Darling, Goorge Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Steele, Thomas
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Kenyon, Clifford Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Delargy, Hugh King, Dr. Horace Stones, William
Dempsey, James Laweon, George Swain, Thomas
Diamond, John Lee, Frederick (Newton) Symonds, J. B.
Dodds, Norman Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Taverne, D.
Doig, Peter Loughlin, Charles Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Lubbock, Eric Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McCarm, J. Wade, Donald
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) MacColl, James Warbey, William
Evans, Albert McInnes, James Weitzman, David
Finch, Harold Mackenzie, Gregor Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) McLeavy, Frank Wilillams, W. T. (Warrington)
Forman, J. C. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Galpern, Sir Myer Mapp, Charles Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
George, Lady MeganLloyd (Crmrthn) Mason, Roy Winterbottom, R. E.
Ginsburg, David Mendeison, J. J. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Gourlay, Harry Milne, Edward Woof, Robert
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mitchieon, G. R. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Monslow, Waller
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Moody, A. S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gunter, Ray Mulley, Frederick Mr. Charles Grey and
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Mr. Ifor Davies.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. D. Price

I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, to leave out "if any".

It might be convenient, Mr. Speaker, if with this Amendment we were to take Amendment No. 3, as the two are linked.

Mr. Speaker

If the House pleases, the two Amendments can be discussed together.

Mr. Price

During the Committee stage, a new subsection (5) was inserted in Clause 1, and it has been referred to earlier today. If I may remind hon. Members who were not then present, the subsection deals with the case where the hirer terminates the agreement before on": half of the hire-purchase price is due. It adds a proviso to Section 4(1) of the 1939 Act. While preserving the hirer's statutory liability to pay one half of the hire-purchase price if he terminates the agreement, the proviso makes this a maximum only, and empowers the court to assess the hirer's liability at a lower figure if the court is satisfied that that would be sufficient and appropriate to compensate the owner.

As I have already explained, the Government accept that this new provision can serve a useful, if limited, purpose, and are not objecting to it in principle. But the drafting seems slightly unsatisfactory, and the purpose of these two Amendments is to remedy that without altering the meaning.

The first Amendment deletes the words "if any", because they seem to us unnecessary. If one half of the purchase price does not exceed the total of the sums paid and accrued due before termination, the hirer has no further liability under Section 4(1) of the 1938 Act; and there cannot be an amount less than nothing.

I am advised that, as at present drafted, subsection (5) could be interpreted as requiring the court to exercise a very wide discretion, taking into account a range of factors going beyond the circumstances of the hire-purchase transaction. The intention, of course, is that the court shall make its assessment of the loss sustained by the owner in consequence of the termination of the agreement. The second Amendment makes this clear.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

The Parliamentary Secretary has very fairly revealed that although in some sort this is a drafting Amendment in another it may have effects of some importance, and I would wish the House to consider these proposals from that point of view. First of all, to the extent that the proposed Amendment involves simply a change in the wording from that in the Amendment we carried in Committee, the effect would appear to be to narrow the court's discretion. Instead of having to arrive at a sum …sufficient and appropriate in all the circumstances to compensate… which was the wording that we originally recommended, the court has now to be satisfied, if the Amendment is carried, that the sum is equal to the loss sustained. That seems to us to set the court a harder task.

Further, we think that to introduce the concept of equation here is to reduce the ambit and scope of the court's discretion. I feel sufficiently strongly that this is a change of wording which is, first of all, of some effect and, secondly, of an effect adverse to the objects I have, to recommend my hon. Friends to divide against this Amendment. I do not think that I can usefully deploy the argument further on that aspect.

When considering this Amendment, it is appropriate to go just a little further. I am afraid that the position is that as the Amendment to subsection (5) of Clause 1 is now proposed to be amended, and takes the form of a proviso to Section 4(1) of the 1938 Act, there will, unfortunately, flow from this one or two quite difficult questions of construction about the effect of the law taken as a whole, and of the effect of the Amendments that have been made to this Bill since Second Reading.

Discussions which we have had with persons interested in this matter have revealed that there is some doubt about the overall effect of the original Section 4 of the 1938 Act as modified by the terms of the proviso which our Amendment introduced. As the whole House knows, a proviso does not merely from the fact of its being a proviso by any means have necessarily a limited effect. There are instances which will be known to hon. Members where the effect of a proviso in a Section of an Act goes very near to the point of implying repeal of the provisions which have appeared before it. Therefore, the mere circumstance that, by our Amendment of Clause 1 in Committee, which is now inserted in the Bill, there is a proviso should not be regarded by the House as a reason for thinking that its effect is not very substantial and important.

I desire to make clear my own view of the resulting position if as may well prove to be the case, the House determines in favour of the Amendment now proposed by the Parliamentary Secretary. The true measure of damages principle will be introduced in all cases of termination of hire-purchase agreements by notice of the hirer under the 1938 Act. The principle of the true measure of damages, which our Amendment introduced in Committee and which this Amendment which we are now considering affects, does not just begin to apply when half the instalments of the hire-purchase price have been paid.

To take the case of a £100 hire-purchase price for a chattel, if notice is given by the hirer terminating the agreement at an early stage, after instalments of £10 have been paid, in our reading of the matter, it would be open to the court to award something less than the difference between £10 and half the hire-purchase price as the amount which would have to be paid by the hirer. In the example which I have just given this would be something less than £40. This is my understanding, but quite possibly there will be arguments about the effect of this provision, taken as a whole, when the courts come to interpret the wording which we have produced.

My understanding, in addition, is that it is not contemplated in applying the true measure of damages principle that in any circumstances will it be open to the hirer to recover back from his owner any instalments which he has

paid. I think that that viewpoint will be generally agreed, but I want to make clear that it is my reading of it and I want placed on the record what we think will be the effect of the provision before we came to a conclusion on the merits of it in a Division.

I am glad to have the opportunity of developing that point, but on the narrower point with which I began, that the wording proposed in the Government's Amendment has the effect of narrowing the scope of the court's discretion, in circumstances where we think it is desirable and important that that discretion should be capable of fairly wide exercise, I would say that the wording in the Government's Amendments strikes us as a good deal less admirable for the purpose than the wording of our original Amendment now standing in the Bill. I therefore recommend to my hon. Friends on that ground to divide against the Amendment.

Question put, That "if any" stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes, 113, Noes, 158.

Division No. 117.] AYES [7.57 p.m.
Ainsley, William Hamilton, William (West Fife) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Harper, Joseph Pentland, Norman
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hayman, F. H. Popplewell, Ernest
Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central) Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Probert, Arthur
Bacon, Miss Alice Herblson, Miss Margaret Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hilton, A. V. Redhead, E. C.
Benson, Sir George Holman, Percy Reynolds, G. W.
Blackburn, F. Houghton, Douglas Rhodes, H.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hoy, James H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Bowles, Frank Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Ross, William
Boyden, James Hunter, A. E. Short, Edward
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Silkin, John
Bradley, Tom Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Collick, Percy Jeger, George Small, William
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cullers, Mrs. Alice Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Snow, Julian
Dalyell, Tam Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Darling, George Kenyon, Clifford Steele, Thomas
Davies, Ifor (Gower) King, Dr. Horace Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lawson, George Stones, William
Deiargy, Hugh Lee, Frederick (Newton) Swain, Thomas
Dempsey, James Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Symonds, J. B.
Dodds, Norman Loughlin, Charles Thomas Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Doig, Peter MacColl, James Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McInnes, James Warbey, William
Evans, Albert Mackenzie, Gregor Webster, David
Finch, Harold Mallalleu, E. L. (Brigg) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fletcher, Eric Mapp, Charles Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Mason, Roy Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Forman, J. C. Mendelson, J. J. Winterbottom, R. E.
Galpern, Sir Myer Milne, Edward Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Ginsberg, David Mitchison, G. R. Woof, Robert
Gourlay, Harry Moody, A. S. Yates, Victor (Ladywood).
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Muliey, Frederick
Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gunter, Ray Oliver, G. H. Mr. Grey and Mr. McCann.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oswald, Thomas
Arbuthnot, Sir John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Pounder, Rafton
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) Harvie Anderson, Miss Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Barlow, Sir John Henderson, Sir John (Cathcart) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Barter, John Hiley, Joseph Proudfoot, Wilfred
Batsford, Brian Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Pym, Francis
Bavins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bingham, R. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bishop, Sir Patrick Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Renton, Rt. Hon. David
Black, Sir Cyril Hocking, Philip N. Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey
Bourne-Arton, A. Holland, Philip Roberts, Sir- Peter (Heeley)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Holt, Arthur Roots, William
Braine, Bernard Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Buck, Antony Hughes-Young, Michael Scott-Hopkins, James
Chataway, Christopher Hutchison, Michael Clark Shepherd, William
Chichester-Clark, R. Iremonger, T. L. Skeet, T. H. H.
Cleaver, Leonard Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Speir, Rupert
Cooke, Robert Jennings, J. C. Stainton, Keith
Cooper, A. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Stanley, Hon. Richard
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Stevens, Geoffrey
Cordle, John Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Coulson, Michael Kershaw, Anthony Stodart, J. A.
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Kimball, Marcus Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Kirk, Peter Storey, Sir Samuel
Crawley, Aidan Leavey, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Curran, Charles Legge Bourke, Sir Harry Summers, Sir Spencer
d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Tapsell, Peter
Doughty, Charles Longbottom, Charles Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Longden, Gilbert Teeling, Sir William
Elliott, R. W. (Newc'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Lubbock, Eric Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Farey-Jones, F. W. McAdden, Sir Stephen Thorpe, Jeremy
Fell, Anthony McLaren, Martin Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Finlay, Graeme McMaster, Stanley R. Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maddan, Martin Turner, Colin
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Marshall, Sir Douglas Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Freeth, Denzil Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gammans, Lady Mills, Stratton Vickers, Miss Joan
Gardner, Edward Miscampbell, Norman Wade, Donald
George, Sir John (Pollok) Montgomery, Fergus Wall, Patrick
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Ward, Dame Irene
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Giyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Whitelaw, William
Goodhew, Victor Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley
Gower, Raymond Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Grant-Ferris, R. Orr-Ewing, Sir Charles Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Wise, A. R.
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Page, John (Harrow, West) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Grosvenor, Lord Robert Partridge, E. Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Gurden, Harold Percival, Ian
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Harris, Reader (Heston) Pitman, Sir James Mr. MacArthur and Mr. Hugh Rees.
Harrison. Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Pitt, Dame Edith

Amendment made: In page 2, line 14, leave out from "termination" to end of line 17 and insert: would be equal to the loss sustained by the owner in consequence of the termination of the agreement by the hirer, the court may make an order for the payment of that sum in lieu of that amount".—[Mr. D. Price.]