HC Deb 24 June 1964 vol 697 cc517-63
Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 27, line 4, to leave out from the beginning to "the" in line 8.

It might be convenient also to take, at the same time, Amendment No. 33.

In Committee, various hon. Members remarked on the complexities of what is now Clause 25. We have been looking at this and we think that it will be at least a little easier to follow if the opening lines of subsection (1), which repeal the existing code of Scottish hire-purchase law, are separated from the rest of the subsection. These Amendments reproduce the repeal as a new subsection (3). We are most indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) for the suggestion that these provisions might be moved and we have accepted the wording that he proposed.

The hon. and learned Member suggested that we should tie these words to Schedule 2, but I hope that on reflection he will agree that they really belong to Clause 25, of which in a sense Schedule 2 is the end product. I assure the House that the sense of Clause 25 is in no way altered.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

We welcome the Amendment I am most grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland for what he said about how the improvement originated. I think that this is an improvement, and that the matter has been most courteously and effectively dealt with.

Mr. J. Robertson

I presume that we are taking also the Amendment in line 20. If so, I assume that the purpose of the two Amendments is to try to make this very difficult and complicated subsection, and indeed Clause, intelligible. I doubt whether the Minister has achieved this. Obviously these Amendments do not do what is required and what I thought might have been done by the Minister following our discussion in Committee.

I heard the Under-Secretary of State's references to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine), and I am pleased that he recognises the assistance which he received from my hon. and learned Friend. I should have thought that he received a great deal of advice from Scottish Members of the Committee which might have produced something more tangible than what is being suggested here.

The Under-Secretary of State is not altering anything at all. All that he is doing is taking words from one place and putting them in another. We are repealing all but two Sections of the 1932 Act and modifying the Scottish provisions of the 1938 Act. Why do not the words in the Amendment in line 20 (in so far as it applies to Scotland) apply to Section 4(2), which is in the Scottish legislation, instead of Section 3(1), that being the English provision, both dealing with the same subject? This does not make any sense of the new Scottish legislation.

I should have thought that, having left out all the words in Clause 25 to the "the" in line 8, we might have had a rearrangement so that there emerged from this witches' brew of a Clause two distinct Scottish Measures parallel with the English legislation. That is not happening. The effect of this alteration is merely to modify the 1938 and 1954 Acts and then to take parts from Part I of this Bill and put them alongside these other Measures and call that the 1938 Scottish Act. Then we take other Clauses and modify them and call them the 1964 Act. If we had taken the 1938 Act and, I agree, the 1954 Act and called them the 1938 Act and modified this Bill and called it the 1964 Act, we should have achieved the desired purpose. But it would have been much easier to understand, and it would have been right in line with the English legislation, which we were told was the purpose then and was to be the purpose of this Amendment.

This is not a simple drafting Amendment. We understood that certain things would be done. They have not been done. All that is done here is to transpose words from one place to another. We need not have bothered. The effect is no different. I am very disappointed that the hon. Gentleman has produced these fiddling Amendments when we required something to make this a Bill which ordinary Scots people could understand. Perhaps I expected too much from the Government.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

I hope that the hon. Gentleman was not under the impression that in Committee I promised him anything of a radical nature. I said that we should make what improvements we could in the Bill. I say frankly that, complex though it is, there is now a slightly more positive approach to explaining what are, I agree, two very difficult Clauses. I must add, if only in self-defence, that this was the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine).

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that Clauses 25 and 26 will make it almost impossible not only for Scottish people but, perhaps, even for Scottish lawyers to understand just what our hire-purchase legislation now is? From what I have heard in the debate, it seems to me that the Government would have been very well advised to have separate legislation on this matter for Scotland. I say that advisedly because I am not one of those who continually cry for separate legislation for Scotland on all sorts of things. The very complex nature of this matter, however, seems to have called for it.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) that the Amendments which the Government have put down will not make the matter any more clear either to me or, I fear, even to Scottish lawyers.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 27, line 9, to leave out "and (2)" and to insert "(2) and (5)".

I suggest that it might be convenient, Mr. Speaker, if we were to consider at the same time Amendments Nos. 82, 84, 92 and 93.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, if the House so pleases.

Mr. Stodart

When the Bill was in Committee, there was added Clause 1(5) which, as further amended today, amends the financial content of the conditions upon which a hirer may voluntarily terminate a hire-purchase agreement. He may now be called upon to pay either a sum which brings his total payments up to half the hire-purchase price or such lesser sum as the court may consider equal to the actual loss sustained by the owner in consequence of the termination of the agreement.

The Scottish Amendments which we are now discussing are consequential upon the adoption of the revised financial conditions.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. Robertson

I beg to move, in page 27, line 20, at the end to insert: and shall be printed as a separate Act of Parliament to be intituled the Hire-Purchase (Scotland) Act, 1938".

Mr. Speaker

I venture to suggest that the House would wish to discuss with this Amendment the following three Amendments: Amendment No. 42, in Clause 26, page 27, line 36, to leave out from "Act" to the end of line 43 and to insert: shall be references to the Hire-Purchase (Scotland) Act, 1938 and references to Part I of this Act shall be references to such of the provisions of the said Part I as are extended to Scotland by this Act".

Amendment No. 43, in page 27, line 36, to leave out: and to Part I of this Act".

Amendment No. 109, in page 29, line 29, at the end to insert: (2) In accordance with the preceding section this Act shall extend to Scotland and shall be printed as a separate Act of Parliament intituled the Hire-Purchase (Scotland) Act, 1964.

Mr. Robertson

I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker.

Clause 25 does more in relation to Scotland than all the rest of the Bill does in relation to England and Wales. It repeals all existing legislation on hire purchase and establishes a new principal Act. This is extremely important because, as has been evident from the number of Amendments put down by the Government to the Scottish part of the Bill, Scottish practice and Scottish law on hire purchase are significantly different from the practice and law in England and Wales.

It is not a matter of legislation alone. One has to interpret the legislation which will be enacted by Clause 25 in the context of the Scottish legal system, the Scottish sheriff courts in particular. One cannot just take the English Measure as in Part I and put it immediately into the context of the Scottish legal system. Not only do we have to change the words but we have sometimes to change the whole idea. For instance, although there may be something approximately equivalent, there is really no such thing in England as the small debt court. There is not in England the practice of poinding, of arrestment, and so on. All these matters are very important.

I seek to have the legislation which Clause 25 will bring into being printed as a separate Act of Parliament for Scotland. We need this and deserve it. One cannot logically have a separate legal system and. then introduce parts of law as Clauses and Schedules in Measures of this kind. That is not good enough. I do not think that the Under-Secretary of State thinks it good enough, but he has had to accept it whether he likes it or not. The Scottish Office might have asserted itself a little more in this matter. Scottish lawyers consider that this is a step in the wrong direction, that it makes confusion worse confounded and that the introduction of a Clause and Schedules concerning Scotland into a Measure of this kind is not the way to enact legislation for Scotland.

Scotland has its own legal system and we should recognise the fact. We were told in Committee that one reason for the form of this Measure was that the Scottish Grand Committee took so long to do anything. It may be that Opposition Members of that Committee talk too much for the Under-Secretary of State's liking, but they were apt pupils of former right hon. and hon. Friends of his. My hon. Friends learned their lesson well, and it is not good enough for the Government to introduce in this way provisions concerning Scotland. The only decent thing that they can do is to accept, even at this late stage, the Amendment.

Mr. Stodart

We in Scotland are extremely proud of our separate legal system and law courts, but, as I ventured to remark in Standing Committee, whereas the Police Bill was a proper thing to take to the Scottish Standing Committee because of the complete difference between the criminal codes of England and Scotland, there had been unanimous agreement during the Committee stage of this Bill—an agreement which echoed the findings of the Molony Committee—that there should be a single hire-purchase code for the United Kingdom. I did not think there was disagreement on that.

Mr. J. Robertson

I am sure that the hon. Member would not like to mislead the House. Perhaps it was before he joined the Standing Committee but Scottish Opposition Members protested at the proposal.

Mr. Stodart

It is true that I was a late comer to the Committee but certainly on the occasions on which I propounded this view I did not meet with great opposition from the hon. Member.

If I understand it aright, the hon. Gentleman's object is to see that the Scottish hire-purchase code is printed as a separate Measure, thus facilitating reference to it by solicitors and others having an interest. I find some difficulty in following the details of how this would be done. The Amendment envisages that Part III of Schedule 2 should be printed separately and entitled the "Hire Purchase (Scotland) Act 1938". But that would exclude the very important provisions of Part I of the Bill, such as those dealing with the "cooling off" period, which are also to be part of the Scottish hire-purchase code. It would also exclude the provisions relating to motor vehicles and advertisements, which are also to apply to Scotland.

Surely anyone wishing to consult a hire purchase code would prefer to have it in one Measure. An advantage we in Scotland enjoy over England is that the whole of the Scottish hire-purchase code will in future be found in one volume—Part III of the Schedule and in references to certain of the new things in Part I—whereas English lawyers will have to refer to, I think, three different Acts until consolidation takes place.

The hon. Gentleman's Amendment No. 109, to Clause 26, seems to propose a slightly different solution. I believe that it would cause the Bill to be reprinted exactly as it stands but renamed the "Hire Purchase (Scotland) Act, 1964". I do not think that it would be very helpful to have the same Act published under two different titles.

Mr. J. Robertson

The hon. Gentleman must do me a little more credit. Obviously, the Amendment I have moved would seek to have a "Hire Purchase (Scotland) Act 1938", which would include all the things now in Clause 25. By my Amendment No. 109 we would take Clause 26 and Part I of the rest of this Bill and call it the "Hire Purchase (Scotland) Act 1964". These would be two separate and distinct Acts and the 1938 Act would be amended just as the present 1938 Act is amended in the existing form of the Bill.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I am not sure that the drafting of his Amendment would have that effect. Indeed, I am certain that it would not. This is not nearly as easy a matter as he thinks. I have watched with considerable admiration and no little respect the way in which he has been trying to make the Bill easier for Scottish practitioners to follow.

As I said earlier, some of these difficulties can be exaggerated. Once the Bill is an Act the central part of the Scottish hire-purchase code will be in two places; Part III of Schedule 2 and Part T of the Bill, as applied to Scotland by Clause 26, along with the allied provisions within the covers of this single Measure. In due course, moreover, there will be consolidation. I cannot forecast the exact shape that these provisions will assume after consolidation has taken place, but I think I can safely promise that the utmost attention will be paid to making the resulting legislation as readily comprehensive as possible. The fact that the hire-purchase code will be within one volume is sufficient an advantage for me to ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

The Under-Secretary said that after consolidation the resulting legislation would be as comprehensive as possible. Should he not have said "comprehensible"?

Mr. Stodart

I beg the hon. Member's pardon.

Mr. Steele

This indicates the confusion which has been associated with the Bill from the beginning. I was one of the hon. Members of the Opposition who went to see the Leader of the House about this Bill and other Measures concerning their application to Scotland. The Under-Secretary said that the Sixth Schedule of the Police Act had been sent to a Committee of Scottish hon. Members upstairs, but I hope that he is aware that that was done only following a good deal of agitation by my hon. Friends. It had not been the original intention of the Government that the Measure should be dealt with in that way. Similarly, we argued with the Leader of the House that the Scottish parts of this Measure should be dealt with by Scottish hon. Members separately.

The Under-Secretary then said that he is proud of the legal system of Scotland. We have had little indication of that from the Government, particularly during this Session, because we have had the impression that although hon. Members opposite may be proud of Scotland's legal system, all the legislation of a Scottish nature they are producing is being tagged on to English Measures.

Almost half of this Bill is Scottish. Many of its Clauses and Schedules could have been placed in a Scottish Bill, despite the Under Secretary's remarks about having the hire-purchase code in a single volume. We have one National Health Service, but we have other legislation for Scotland and separate legislation for England and Wales. So while we have one hire-purchase code, that is no excuse for a Measure of this kind and it is obvious that the only way to overcome this difficulty is to have a separate and purely Scottish Bill.

The Under-Secretary went on to say how easy this would be for Scottish solicitors. I fail to understand that, particularly since in almost the next breath he said that it would be complicated for English practitioners. If that is so, it means that Scottish solicitors must inform themselves about all this legislation and the various regulations in which it will be contained. The hon. Gentleman paid tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley in connection with his Amendments and the arguments which he adduced in Committee. We who know my hon. Friend know that he would apply himself in that way.

Surely, the Under-Secretary has been long enough in the House to know that when the Opposition put down Amendments or put forward proposals, we are not concerned with the wording being absolutely correct, legalistic and all the rest. My hon. Friend's Amendments are framed in such a way as to give the Government an opportunity to accept them. Our purpose, however, is not so much to get an Amendment accepted as to get the principle debated. The principle here is not whether my hon. Friend's Amendments do the job that he seeks to do, but that the Government should be prepared at an early date to give us a Scottish Bill embodying in one Measure all these matters dealing with hire purchase. At least, we should have an assurance in that regard.

Mr. Willis

In a way, I am rather sorry for the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, because he is on a sticky wicket and he knows it. Scottish Members have been treated in astonishing fashion during this Parliamentary Session because of the Government's desire to do a bit of Tory propaganda and window-dressing. This is the third occasion when we have had practically complete Scottish legislation embodied in English Bills. In the case of the Housing Bill and of this one, it could be said with some degree of truth that the Bill makes more alterations to Scottish than to English law. But in spite of the fact that the alterations have been greater to the Scottish than to the English law, they have been considered by Committees on which there has been only a small minority of Scottish Members.

The Under-Secretary should be ashamed that he has allowed himself to be party o this treatment of Scottish legislation and of the fact that it should be considered by Committees in which the majority—not just a slight majority, but the big majority—of Members have been English Members with little knowledge of Scottish legislation. I do not suppose that they would claim any knowledge of Scottish legislation.

By the Amendment, we seek to get a separate Scottish Bill published after the passage of this legislation to make the situation convenient for Scottish lawyers and others who have to consider the legislation. I ask the Under-Secretary to read subsection (1) of the Clause and to look at the changes which he is making concerning Scottish law. Imagine the ordinary person who looks into this in Scotland looking at this lot here and seeing: (1) Sections 1 to 5 and 8 and 9 of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act 1932, the Hire-Purchase Act 1954 (in so far as it applies to Scotland) and the Credit-Sale Agreements (Scotland) Act 1961 shall cease to have effect and in lieu thereof the Hire-Purchase Act 1938, as amended by sections 1(1) and (2), 3(1), (2), (3) and (6), 12, 21(1) and 36 of this Act, shall extend to Scotland, subject to— (a) the modifications set out in Part I of Schedule 2"— we come there to two pages of modifications— and (b) the addition of the provisions set out in Part II". We then come to 15 pages. In other words, we are wiping out a lot of legislation and applying—this is what I object to, because we did this in the Housing Bill—a completely new English Act to Scotland by shoving it into a Schedule.

This Measure took probably 12 or 15 sittings to discuss in Committee, but when it is applied to Scotland it comes in simply by way of a Schedule and not as a Bill. How does the Under-Secretary think that anybody will find this simple to follow? He should read what the subsection says. I certainly do not consider it simple to follow.

I cannot see why this Scottish legislation should not now be published separately. Why should not we take out the parts of the Bill which apply to Scotland and consolidate and publish them as a separate Scottish Bill? We would be creating no precedent. It was done, I think, in connection with the Town and Country Planning Act because of the volume of protests received from the Scottish Bar against this practice. The whole of the Scottish legal profession is united in condemning this practice of interpolating Scottish legislation at the tail end of English Clauses and by way of Schedules. It has been condemned over and over again, yet the hon. Member tells us that it is a good thing for Scotland.

I wonder whether he would like to debate that in his constituency with some member of the Scottish Bar. Let him go to Edinburgh and try to explain it. He would find that there was a great deal of resentment of this method of treating Scotland. My hon. Friend has struggled nobly, but in a very tiny minority in Committee and on the Floor to try to provide that for Scotland at least we shall have a law which makes sense instead of all this legalistic jargon which precedes our Amendment and which requires much cross reference and reference in order that one may follow it.

I hope that the hon. Member will reconsider the matter. Let us have for Scotland something which makes sense and which is Scottish even if it does the same as is being done in England. Let us have a Scottish Act. Why not? We have had a Scottish Act in respect of town and country planning because of the large volume of protests. I do not know whether the Government feel that they are bound to be defeated and therefore it does not matter what they do, but this Session we have been treated in the most scandalous manner we have ever experienced in the House. Scottish Ministers have come to the Box apologising and trying to explain how beneficial this is—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on the Hire-Purchase (No. 2) Bill [Lords] may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.

Question again proposed, That the proposed words be there inserted.

Mr. Willis

The Bill has come from the House of Lords and cannot now be changed in another place, but the Minister could accept the Amendment and publish a separate Act. That is not much to ask. It would be appreciated by everybody who has to deal with the rather complicated matter of hire-purchase and credit-sale agreements. He should put those concerned to the bother—it would not be much bother—of producing a Scottish Act, which set out clearly, and in a manner which could easily be followed by people without having to wade through this vast problem, exactly what was done.

That is eminently a reasonable request and eminently sensible. I am sure that everyone in Scotland who has to deal with these matters would thank the Government for doing it. It means no departure in principle. The Government need not alter their views or accept any views from the Opposition. All they are asked is to put this part of the Bill in an intelligible form. I hope that before we conclude the hon. Member will relent a little and think of the people who have to handle these provisions. Probably some of my hon. Friends will wish to join in the debate. Th Under-Secretary of State should say that he is prepared to accept the Amendment.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I apologise to the Under-Secretary of State because I did not hear his statement in the earlier part of the debate, although I gather that I did not miss much. I gather that in rather more words he said, "No" to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson), in line 20, at the end to insert: and shall be printed as a separate Act of Parliament to be intituled the Hire-Purchase (Scotland) Act 1938". I should like to know why the hon. Gentleman adopts that attitude. If the law is to be of value to people in Scotland, and especially to those who administer it, be they sheriffs or lawyers advising their clients, it should be clear and intelligible. English hon. Members should be concerned about the purity of their Statute. I am sure that they have no great desire to see in their Statute provisions which bear no relation at all to England and Wales. Here we have the worst of all worlds—complexity for the English and complete unintelligi-bility for the Scots.

One of the articles of the Treaty of Union preserved for Scotland its own legal system, with the result that in many aspects of the law we have separate legislation, separate Acts of Parliament, and variations within the various Acts. In the past we had separate legislation for hire-purchase.

I admit that we have had legislation which has applied to both Scotland and the United Kingdom, but, if we must have consolidation legislation—and this is not consolidation legislation, it is amending legislation, as the Title says—embodying in one Statute the law for Scotland and England, provided so that lawyers on both sides of the Border, and Members of Parliament, can follow it easily, we would be prepared to support the Government. But here we have the Government setting out with the desirable object of improving the hire-purchase law, but doing it in a way which makes it impossible for us to follow what is happening

I do not know how the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland fared in Committee. I remember the difficulty that we had when we discussed the Police Bill and the Housing Bill with the Leader of the House. He did not understand the situation. He did not approve of what we wanted to do, but, nevertheless, we achieved what we are asking for here. We got the Scottish Statute reprinted. In fact, we got more than that. That part of the Bill which related to Scotland was considered by the Scottish Standing Committee, instead of being considered by an English Committee.

Mr. Willis

My hon. Friend will remember that because of the row mat was kicked up about the Housing Bill we were given a promise of a consolidation Bill which would contain those parts of the Housing Bill which related to Scotland. We were promised that that would be produced by the autumn.

Mr. Ross

We achieved what we wanted in respect of the Police Bill, because of the way it was drawn up, but we could not do it with the Housing Bill because the United Kingdom and Scottish parts were so intermingled. Neverthelesss, we were able to convince the Leader of the House that it was an insult to expect Scottish Members to understand what was being done. That was probably the reason why, although housing is one of the most important social problems in Scotland, not a single Scottish Tory Member served on the Committee. They probably found it too difficult to understand the Bill.

We were unable to discuss the Scottish part of this Bill separately, because it was not possible sensibly to extract the Scottish aspects of it. I defy the hon. Gentleman to defend what is being done from the point of view of legal purity and legal intelligibility. We suffer enough from legal jargon even in the most simple and straightforward Bills.

This Bill makes absolute nonsense. One has only to read it to realise what ridiculous things we are wishing on the people and lawyers of Scotland. Clause 25, to which we propose to add the Amendment, says: Sections 1 to 5 and 8 and 9 of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932, the Hire-Purchase Act, 1954 (in so far as it applies to Scotland) and the Credit-Sale Agreements (Scotland) Act, 1961 shall cease to have effect"— we have to start looking through all those Statutes to see what we have to score out— and in lieu thereof the Hire-Purchase Act 1938, as amended by sections 1(1) and (2), 3(1), (2), (3) and (6), 12, 21(1) and 36 of this Act, shall extend to Scotland, subject to— (a) the modifications set out in Part I of Schedule 2 to this Act— Schedule 2 runs to about 15 pages and 19 or more paragraphs.

How can the Minister justify that? It is absolutely ridiculous. Let us consider all the parts that apply to Scotland. Clause 21(1) says: In the principal Act and in this Part of this Act ' credit-sale agreement ' shall not include a condition of sale agreement. What does it mean? We do not know until we put the whole jigsaw together. Hon. Members opposite are concerned about their image under modernisation. Alexander the Straight tells us that this is what the Scottish legal system has to work to. This is modernisation and streamlining.

I am sure that after he has finished his briefing from the Government Deputy Chief Whip he will agree that this is absolute nonsense. We are asking him to give the draftsmen a job during the next few weeks or months. They are not over-busy. Let them extract from the Bill and put into sensible and intelligible order those Clauses which relate to Scotland, so that we shall have some measure of consolidation. If the draftsmen would like to do that in respect of all the other outstanding and related matters we would have a full body of Scottish Statutes relating to hire purchase. If the Government are not prepared to give us a consolidated and intelligible United Kingdom Measure—if they are to maintain this separation, and jigsaw cohesion—they must give Scotland something which she can understand.

I do not understand the Minister's attitude. I remember him when he was a back bencher, and even when he was a Liberal, which was not so very long before that. He found that there was no path to fame in that party, so the Liberal farmer became a Tory farmer, and when he first became a Tory farmer and sat on the back benches he had plenty to say about jargon. I can remember the poetic speeches that he made, and the fun he had about our Statutes. He could not restrain himself. Now he has the power to do something about it.

The hon. Gentleman need not worry about the Secretary of State. He is away at the Highlands Show. His bull got first prize there yesterday. This piece of "bull" would not get a first prize today. He is a junior Under-Secretary, and the rest have fled the field. Momentarily, during our discussion we had the assistance of a former Scottish Solicitor-General, but he, too, is now just a humble back bencher, and we are without the confused aid of a Scottish lawyer on the Front Bench opposite. The power is the hon. Member's. Will he use it? If he wants to act for the benefit of Scotland he will say that he has changed his mind and will accept the Amendment, and that he is prepared to give Scotland a separate statute on hire purchase.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

I tell the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) that I have never said that this was simple to follow. On the other hand, I have said that unduly heavy weather can be made of it. We have one advantage, which I believe is worth while. I say no more than this. I have never denied that this is an extremely complex way of proceeding, but the end product means that whereas the present English code is to be found only by looking at three different Acts, the Scottish code is to be found—once this Bill becomes an Act—in Part III of Schedule 2, together with the new provisions which have been added to Part I. I have always said that consolidation will be coming along. More than that I am afraid I am not prepared to say, and I cannot advise the House to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Charles Longhlin (Gloucestershire, West)

I am sorry to intervene in a Scottish matter, and I have a great deal of sympathy for the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland who finds himself in this predicament. I am a simple Englishman. I can understand the implication of lines 9 and 10 and of paragraph (a), but can the Under-Secretary of State explain what is meant by paragraph (b), where it states: the addition of the provision set out in Part II of the said Schedule, being provisions corresponding to the provisions enacted for England and Wales by sections 2 and 3(1)"—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I should be obliged if the hon. Member will explain how his remarks refer to this Amendment.

Mr. Loughlin

They do, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in relation to the first Amendment. I have been sitting in the Chamber listening to the debate for the last three-quarters of an hour, and if they do not I am more confused now than when the debate started. I should like some clarification. As I see it, the Amendment submitted by my hon. Friend is an attempt to clarify the position. It states that it: …shall be printed as a separate Act of Parliament intituled the Hire-Purchase (Scotland) Act, 1964. I may be wrong, but as I see it this provision is affected by the Amendment. I am trying to be helpful to the Minister and I hope that he will be helpful to me.

Mr. Willis

I understand my hon. Friend—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. The House must remember that this is the Report stage and hon. Members who have made speeches cannot make a second speech.

Mr. Willis

I was not wishing to make a second speech. I understood that my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) was asking the Under-Secretary of State to answer a question. I should like to ask the Minister a brief question, which is that if he does not accept the Amendment, is not it still possible to achieve what the Amendment is designed to do? Will the Minister undertake to look at the matter again? He has admitted that it is complicated.

Mr. Stodart

At this stage I do not think it would have any effect to undertake to look at it again. Either I accept the Amendment or I do not, and I must advise the House not to accept it.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

I have been interested in this subject for a long time. In common with my hon. Friends I know something of the difficulties which have existed in Scotland and the impotency of this Government in dealing with them. We know that members of certain firms have virtually put their fingers to their noses at the Government and got away with it. The Government have paid practically no attention to them.

We know that the Act which is mentioned here the Credit-Sale Agreement (Scotland) Act, 1961, was brought in under great pressure and piloted by a former hon. Member of this House who sat on the benches opposite. We know something of the intrigue and effort that went or. in relation to this question. Scotland's hire-purchase difficulties are so much greater than those South of the Border that we had hoped at least to have had some sort of Measure that could be understood in Scotland. It was fairly clear when the Under-Secretary was asked what it meant that he himself hardly knows what he is dealing with.

It is not often that I disagree with my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), but I do so tonight. They have spoken of the Under-Secretary being in a position of power. I disagree. I think that this is where the humiliation lies. The hon. Gentleman is not in a position of power. He is not able on this occasion to say "Yea". His instructions are to say "No". It does not matter how long we talk here. In fact, when I came into the Chamber and saw him sitting there with a Whip, and only a Whip, it seemed to me that he was being given his instructions, "This is not an important matter. We will leave it to you. Let them talk their heads off for a wee while. It does not matter."

That is all there is to it. The hon. Gentleman sits there, and no matter how forcible the arguments he cannot say anything but "No". His right hon. Friend is far away—

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend is confusing the meaning of power. There is power in regard to what a person is prepared to say, and what he is prepared to use; whether or not he is prepared to use his power.

Mr. Lawson

The very fact that the Under-Secretary is not prepared to say "Yea" is indicative of his position. If he was prepared to stand up for Scotland, and say, "Come what may, I believe that hon. Members are right and [will back them up"—and say so—that would be all right, but we shall not get that from the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Willis

Surely, my hon. Friend does not suggest that the Under-Secretary of State is just a "stooge"?

Mr. Lawson

I hate to use any such word of a man who comes from Scotland. I should have thought that he could stand up for himself, but there is no evidence of it—

Mr. Ross

It is all right—the Under-Secretary is an Etonian Scot.

Mr. Lawson

That perhaps accounts for it. There are so many synthetic Scots. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East is not a Scot, but I will say it for him that he is better than many Scots—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but surely we had better come back to the Amendment we are debating.

Mr. Lawson

You yourself being a Scot of outstanding distinction, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and one who feels so much for his country, I am sure that you will agree that we are suffering here a humiliation, and that the subject now before us is the subject of the humiliation of Scotland.

I have nothing to say that is disrespectful to the Under-Secretary, but let him consider the position he is now in. He is a junior Minister—he is an excellent Member in himself, but he is a junior Minister—yet he is certainly not ready to stand up and fight on such a subject as this. He is put up to say "No", and will go on saying no on this matter of importance to us.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock has spoken of our discussions with the Leader of the House—it is a great pity that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not here tonight. The Leader of the House was at least very ready to understand our difficulties over the Housing Bill and the Police Bill. We gave him an undertaking that if he took the Scottish part out of the United Kingdom Police Bill and sent it to the Scottish Committee we would finish it precisely on time. I believe that we finished it about one and a half hours before we were due to finish it, which says something very much for the Scottish Committee. We were offered another day, but we said, "No, we undertook to finish the Bill at a particular hour." We finished with one and a half hours to spare. That shows that when hon. Members opposite are reasonable with us we can be very reasonable with them.

In many respects, this Bill is even more important than the Police Bill. It provides protection for people who have suffered over the years, something for which we have pressed for a long time. I am sure that the Molony Report was influenced very strongly by the type of practice in Scotland which was brought to the notice of that Committee.

Here we have a Bill which is unintelligible in Scotland. It cannot be understood by my hon. Friends, and surely cannot be understood by hon. Members opposite, because these are matters in which they have little interest. Is it to be allowed to be said in Scotland that the Under-Secretary was treated virtually as a messenger boy and did what he was told and was not prepared to stand up and say, "I will do my utmost even if I have to resign as one of the Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland"? This is not a big thing to do.

The hon. Gentleman will not be holding the position for very long. At most it will be only for about a month. Let him think of the gesture which he could make by saying, "I agree with hon. Members opposite and if the Government say that this will not be done I will resign my office". If he does that we will back him, and it may be that if we return as the Government we shall look kindly at him and treat him more generously than otherwise we might do.

Mr. Loughlin

On a point of order. A moment or two ago I rose to ask for information from the Under-Secretary and you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, questioned whether my remarks were in order. With my usual diffidence to authority I was a little nonplussed. I tried to explain why I thought I was in order and it is possible that in consequence of your intervention at that stage the Under-Secretary was not too sure whether he would be in order in giving me the information which I sought. Would it be possible, therefore, through you to ask at this stage whether the hon. Gentleman is in a position now to supply me with that information?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think that it is necessary to raise that as a point of order. I am sure that all that the hon. Member has just said has been heard.

Mr. Loughlin

Further to that, with due deference. A little confusion arose out of your questioning the validity of my remarks and in consequence it is surely in order for an hon. Member to raise the question whether there was some confusion also on the part of the Under-Secretary who has not responded to my request for information. [Interruption.] The hon. Member should mind his own business. He has only just come in, and he should go back to the Bar.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Enough has been heard for me to safely say that no point of order now exists for the Chair to deal with.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: In page 27, line 20, at end insert: (3) The following enactments shall cease to have effect, that is to say, sections 1 to 5 and 8 and 9 of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act 1932, the Hire-Purchase Act 1954 (in so far as it applies to Scotland) and the Credit-Sale Agreements (Scotland) Act 1961.—[Mr. Stodart.]

10.32 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move Amendment No. 34, in page 27, line 21, to leave out subsection (3) and to insert: (4) The following provisions of this subsection shall have effect for the purpose of the construction of any reference (however expressed) in any enactment passed before this Act to a contract to which the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act 1932 applied or would in certain circumstances have applied:—

  1. (a) if the reference is a reference to a contract to which paragraph (a) of section 1 of that Act applied or would have applied, it shall be construed as a reference to a hire-purchase agreement within the meaning assigned to that expression by section 21(1) of the Act of 1938;
  2. (b) if the reference is a reference to a contract to which paragraph (b) of the said section 1 applied or would have applied, it shall be construed as a reference to a conditional sale agreement within the meaning assigned to that expression by section 21(5) of this Act;
  3. (c) if the context of the reference requires that it shall be construed as a reference only to a contract relating to an article within the limitation as to value specified in the said paragraph (a) or, as the case may be, the said paragraph (b) it shall be construed as a reference to a hire-purchase agreement (within the meaning assigned as aforesaid) under which the hire-purchase price does not exceed the limitation for the time being specified in section 1(1) of the Act of 1938 or, as the case may be, a conditional sale agreement (within the meaning assigned as aforesaid) under which the total purchase price does not exceed the limitation specified or referred to in section 21(2) of this Act;
  4. (d) for the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that except as required by the last preceding paragraph no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938, or section 2 of the proviso to section 21(2) of this Act, in construing any such reference;
  5. (e) in relation to any such reference, expressions to which meanings are assigned by section 21(1) of the Act of 1938 shall in any enactment passed before this Act have the meanings so assigned to them respectively, unless the context otherwise requires; and any words defining the expressions "purchaser" or "instalment" 540 for the purposes of any such reference shall be disregarded.
It may be convenient to discuss with this the Government Amendments to Schedule 4 and to Schedule 7.

These are rather formidable looking Amendments, but I shall do my best to explain them as simply as I can. The first of them replaces Clause 25(3) with a more detailed provision which seeks to achieve the same object more precisely. The other two Amendments are consequential.

Subsection (3) is in standard form. Unfortunately, in this case it is not sufficient to say that a reference to a contract to which the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932, applies is to be construed as a reference to a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement to which the Hire Purchase Act, 1938, as now extended to Scotland, applies. There would still be difficulty in construing certain references in previous Acts.

The main difficulty arises in Clause 2 and Clause 21(2) of the Bill which were added in another place. This provides that the 1938 Act shall not apply to hire purchase and conditional sale agreements concluded by or on behalf of corporate bodies as hirers or buyers. It is, therefore, necessary to make clear whether references in previous Acts to agreements coming within the scope of the Scottish Act of 1932 are to include agreements made by or on behalf of corporate bodies.

We are also taking the opportunity to introduce rather more precision in applying earlier references to the question of the transaction involved and where the monetary limits specified in the 1938 Act of £2,000, which may be revised by Order in Council, are to apply. The 1932 Act dealt with two kinds of transactions. Rather strangely, it did not give a name to either, but the first was what this Bill would call hire purchase and the second was what this Bill calls conditional sale.

Paragraphs (a) and (b) of the Amendment make it possible to translate references to these transactions. Paragraphs (c) and (d) deal with financial limits and corporate bodies. The effect of paragraph (c) is that unless the earlier Act quite clearly intended to refer to a transaction within the financial limits prescribed by the Scottish Act of 1932, no financial limits will apply. If such a reference was clearly intended, the new financial limits of this Bill will be substituted.

In other words, if we find in an old Act a reference to a hire-purchase agreement for goods worth up to £20 or £100 or £300, which were the stages of increase in the various Acts, then we substitute £2,000 which is the new limit; but if we find no figure quoted or implied, then no limits will be imposed for the future.

Paragraph (d) applies to corporate bodies. Quite simply, no previous references to an agreement within the scope of the Scottish Act of 1932 shall be deemed to exclude agreements by or on behalf of corporate bodies. If I may give a practical example, the Consumer Protection Act, 1961, refers to any contract to which the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932 applies. The object of the 1961 Act in the context where this is used is to prevent the sale under hire purchase of unsafe equipment such as, for instance, oil heaters. In this context, one would not wish by an over-precise reference to hire-purchase agreements as defined in this Bill to make it possible to sell defective equipment of this kind to corporate bodies or to sell it if, in total, its value is above the limit of £2,000 prescribed for hire-purchase agreements by this Bill. I hope that that will illustrate the kind of difficulty the Amendment is designed to solve.

Paragraph (e) of the Amendment provides that in any previous enactment expressions are to be construed in accordance with the interpretation Provisions of the Hire Purchase Act, 1938. Any definition of "purchaser" in a previous Act is to be disregarded because it is defined in the 1938 Act, and any definition of "instalment" is to be disregarded because we consider that the word "instalment" now requires no definition.

The other two Amendments are purely consequential. With that explanation, which I would hesitate to describe as simple, and which I feel will not be accepted I commend the Amendment.

Mr. Willis

I do not know whether the Under-Secretary understood his explanation, but I found it rather difficult to follow, particularly as the hour is getting late. I am not always at my brightest and best at this time of night.

Therefore, I endeavoured to understand what the Amendment really said in order to try to find out what it means. I must confess that this was a mistake. I have never seen a more unintelligible piece of legal verbiage, or, at least, it is a long tine since I have seen a more unintelligible piece of legal verbiage than there is in this Amendment. It demonstrates the points we were making in the previous debate, that there is great difficulty in following this legislation when there are so many cross-references.

I ask the hon. Gentleman to read paragraph (c), or, perhaps, I had better read it for him: if the context of the reference requires that it shall be construed as a reference only to a contract relating to an article within the limitation as to value specified in the said paragraph (a) or, as the case may be, the said paragraph (b) it shall be construed as a reference to a h re-purchase agreement (within the meaning assigned as aforesaid) under which the hire-purchase price does not exceed the limitation for the time being specified in section 1(1) of the Act of 1938 or, as the case may be, a conditional sale agreement (within the meaning assigned as aforesaid) under which the total purchase price does not exceed the limitation specified or referred to in section 21(2) of this Act. That is very clear, a brilliant piece of writing.

Mr. Lawson

Has my hon. Friend noticed the opening words of paragraph (d)?

Mr. Willis

Yes, it is clear that there was doubt about how plain all this was, though I must say that it would require a paragraph not of three-and-a-half lines, but of two or three pages to remove my doubts. Paragraph (d) reads: for the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that except as required by the last preceding paragraph no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938, or section 2 or the proviso to section 21(2) of this Act, in construing any such reference. Crystal clear, is it not?

The hon. Gentleman, whose prose is frequently to be found in the columns of the Edinburgh Evening News, ought to have applied his pen to this task. He would have made a better job of it than the draftsman has. At least, one can read his articles in that journal and understand them, but this takes a bit of understanding.

It arises from the frantic hurry of Scottish Ministers to cash in on anything they think might do them good in Scotland. Whenever an English Bill comes along, they seize upon it and say, "Let us have a look at it. Why not apply this to Scotland? We will go on with this, and it will help us in the coming General Election."

Mr. Lawson

Is my hon. Friend sure that they have even said, "Let us look at it"?

Mr. Willis

My hon. Friend is probably right. They might simply have said, "This sounds good. We will come in on it," and then, of course, they have endeavoured to apply it to Scotland, producing the muddles about which we have had to complain so often, and have later tried to clarify the hopeless position which they themselves created.

10.45 p.m.

It is significant that in respect of this Clause relating to Scotland we have had on the Notice Paper no fewer than four Amendments in the name of the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, which means that he has found it necessary to explain the Scottish adaptation of this Measure by means of four alterations of the original drafting. This shows the hurried way in which this Measure was considered, how the Scottish Office did not study it and how that Department was anxious to brighten up its rather tarnished image in Scotland by trying to get involved with something which promised it a little popularity.

I will not weary the House by reading the rest of the new Clause.

An Hon. Member

Hear, hear.

Mr. Willis

If I get that sort of support I will not only read the lot, but give my interpretation of each point, which could keep hon. Members for a very long time.

I am content to point out how involved all this has become simply because we have got ourselves tied up with an English Bill. The only answer would have been to have applied the 1938 Act in terms which were understandable, if not to the layman then to the average practitioner. I defy anyone, apart from an expert draftsman or a lawyer specialising in the hire-purchase law, to understand the proposed Clause. Indeed, I do not believe that the Under-Secretary understood it when he read it to the House so very carefully.

Mr. Darling

But he read it well.

Mr. Willis

He never lifted his eyes from his brief. That meant that he had no assurance about reading it. He obviously felt that it was important that he should stick rigidly to his brief.

I have no desire to delay the House, but I must continue to draw attention to this disgraceful way of treating Scotland. I am sure that in his heart the Under-Secretary feels ashamed of the way that he is treating Scotland. He must feel that he is being placed in an almost impossible position; of shouldering a responsibility which I do not think is his, a responsibility which arose before he came to office. To that extent I feel sorry for him.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) pointed out, at a time when we are unveiling a great memorial at Bannockburn, the Under-Secretary should be fighting for Scotland and flying the lion rampant, saying, "I cannot accept this. I will do something to try to put this matter on a proper footing". He should, in other words, treat Scotland as she deserves to be treated. If he decides to do that my hon. Friends and I will give him our full support.

Does not the Under-Secretary agree that it is a bit of an imposition to place a new Clause of this type before us at nearly eleven o'clock at night? The fact that we are keen to do what we can to improve this dubious, doubtful method of proceeding shows that my hon. Friends and I wish to assist the people of Scotland who have been suffering because of the activities of the hire-purchase firms in Scotland.

Mr. J. Robertson

It is rather late in the day, and I have no desire to stay any longer than is necessary, but I must say a few words on the Clause. It is not as clear as the Under-Secretary would have us believe. In time, we progress. Everybody knew what hire purchase was in 1932, but today, apparently, we have to explain what the 1932 Act meant. Section 1(a) is now to be construed as referring to a hire-purchase agreement. No one can complain about this. I suppose that it makes it a little clearer. Perhaps people from England have been in doubt, but everybody in Scottish courts knew what a hire-purchase agreement was.

Section 1(b), however, is made a little more difficult to understand. In the past, an agreement made under that paragraph was always thought and spoken of in the Scottish courts as a credit-sale agreement. That was the interpretation and the name usually given to such an agreement. Now, however, it has to be construed as a reference to a conditional sale agreement". The difference between a conditional sale agreement as defined in Clause 21(5) and a credit sale is defined elsewhere in the Bill. If, however, there is a difference between a conditional sale agreement and a credit sale agreement, paragraph (b) of the Amendment is not appropriate.

I am not sure about this, although I thought that I understood from the Bill in Committee that there was a difference between a conditional sale agreement and a credit sale agreement. There seem to have been doubts and differences in different parts of the Bill. There may be an error here, because if the Under-Secretary of State looks at the proceedings in Committee and in the House on the 1954 Act relating to Scotland as well as on the Credit-Sale Agreements (Scotland) Act, 1961—and, equally, on the 1932 Act—he will see that no one was under any misapprehension about what was being referred to in Section 1(e) of the 1932 Act. It was a credit-sale agreement. This is a significant point.

Another and tremendously difficult aspect is that when the Amendment refers to "the Act of 1938", I am not clear whether we are referring to the Act of 1938 or the 1938 Act. I am not splitting hairs. In the Clause, the Act of 1938 is defined as the Act of 1938 as extended to Scotland, which hereafter is to be called the Act of 1938, and any reference to the Act of 1938 will be understood to be a reference to the Act of 1938 as extended to Scotland. Amendment No. 49, however, which we will reach later, seeks to leave out "Act of 1938" in that interpretation and to substitute Hire-Purchase Act 1938 as extended to Scotland". We must get this clear. Do the words "Act of 1938" in the proposed Amendment refer to the Act of 1938 in its original form or the Act of 1938 as put forward in the Schedule?

Now this is significant, because the interpretation referred to in Section 1(b) of the Act of 1938 as we have hitherto known it, is not the interpretation as given by Clause 21(1) of the Act of 1938 in its application to Scotland. There are two different interpretations.

In view of Amendment No. 49, this has to be cleared up. This confusion about which Act we are speaking about—whether it is the English 1938 Act that we have and to which Part I of the Bill refers, or the Act of 1938 which we will still have to contend with—must be cleared up We have to discuss the matter as though all these Amendments had already been discussed and accepted in order to try to make sense of this. Really, it is a bit thick.

The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary has these back-room boys, and I am not sorry for him. He has got all this paperwork done for him. But I have got to try and do it for myself. Hon. Members may think that this is hairsplitting, but it is not. There is a very important point about a conditional sales agreement and Section 21(5) of this Act. I see that the Amendment uses the word "instalment", but paragraph (e) of it seeks to delete the definition of the word "instalment" from the Scottish legislation.

In the Bill as originally drafted it was understandable that we did not need the definition of "instalment" as the word had been deleted because the Act using the word had been repealed. But by this Amendment we reintroduce the word "instalment" into Scottish legislation while, at the same time, we are repealing the definition of the word "instalment".

Quite frankly, I do not think that this Amendment is quite as clever as it looks, although I admit it is complicated. Nor do I think—and, again, this is a matter of opinion—one would ever know exactly what this meant until one got into a Scottish court.

I am not convinced that when it comes to the question of the limitation of the hire-purchase price, paragraph (c) covers the position. It certainly covers the question of the £20 limit put down by the 1932 Act, but I cannot see how the same conditions would apply to the 1954 and later Acts where there is an increase to £100. I accept that under this legislation one would perhaps be able to construe the £300 situation, but there is nothing here to include the 1954 Act or the alterations made to the Scottish legislation by the 1954 Act, which is being repealed as far as it refers to Scotland by these two Clauses.

The Under-Secretary of State must do a bit better on this, and get his backroom boys to do a bit better. It is rather a pity that a complicated Amendment like this should come on at this stage of the Bill.

In Committee, there was a suggestion that hon. Members on this side of the Committee did not know what they were talking about, but obviously they did, because the debate has produced many of these Scottish Amendments. I am not sure that this Amendment achieves the objective outlined by the Under-Secretary of State, and he should look at it again. It is a pity that we are at the final stage of the Bill, because it is risky letting the provision go through.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Ross

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will make another attempt to explain the Amendment. I am surprised that the person named at the head of the Amendment did not appear to move it. Indeed, it is rarely that I have seen an Amendment put forward in this form because according to my Notice Paper nobody is sponsoring the Amendment. I do not know how you, Mr. Speaker, managed to call anyone to move it, and I should like your guidance on the point.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that any point arises, with respect to the hon. Member, for if he looks at page 3226 he will find one name which, according to our usaul practice, governs a series of Amendments—following through the Amendments until there is a change of name. That is the principle on which I have acted, and I do not think that it departs from our usual practice.

Mr. Ross

We dealt with the previous Amendment and then someone was called to move this Amendment. Generally, when there is a series of consequential Amendments they are taken together and dealt with together because they concern the same point. No one is sponsoring this Amendment. Yet it has been called separately and taken separately. I wondered who was responsible for it. But if you are saying, Mr. Speaker, that the name of the Secretary for Industry and Trade, which appeared at the top of Amendment No. 33, applies to this Amendment, I will take your word for it.

We are considering what is to happen to Scottish law. The Under-Secretary of State told my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) on a previous Amendment that these provisions would place Scottish lawyers at a considerable advantage and would make everything relatively simple, yet he has had to produce this further Amendment to simplify the position. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) referred to an event taking place on the Field of Bannockburn and a statue of King Robert the Bruce. One of my compatriots wrote of this event what is almost our national anthem—"Scots Wha Hae." One verse starts Wha for Scotland's King and law, Freedom's sword will strongly draw. The Under-Secretary of State refused to draw that sword for Scotland tonight. He preferred to knuckle under to the power fo the proud Edward, the Secretary of State for Trade, Industry, and all the rest of it. I wish that proud Edward had been here to sponsor his Amendment. It is not surprising that he did not put his name to it. He could not understand it, and I confess that I find it difficult to understand.

During the war I was consulted about how long it would take to break down the codes and ciphers being used by our allies, the Chinese. My knowledge of Chinese was strictly limited, but I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I found that task very much easier than trying to make sense of the Amendment.

I presume that the Government are trying to simplify the term, a contract to which the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act 1932 applied or would in certain circumstances have applied". Paragraph (a) says that if the reference is a reference to a contract to which paragraph (a) of section 1 of that Act applied or would have applied it shall be construed in a certain way. That is all very nice, but we must not forget what we have just done. Amendment No. 33, which has a name to it, says: The following enactments shall cease to have effect, that is to say, sections 1 to 5 and S and 9 of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act 1932 Thus, that Statute has been wiped out of existence.

What are we playing at? Are the draftsmen trying to make things as complicated as possible? Or is it that because of the way in which this has been drafted, their efforts to clarify the matter have led them into further obscurity? This is not clarification, elucidation, or simplification. If the Tory Chief Whip is annoyed that we are discussing this matter at this time of the night, the fault is not curs. The responsibility rests with the Government for the way in which they treat Scottish law, Scottish Statutes, and Scottish Members.

We are glad that a solitary Scottish Tory back bencher is present. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) is the vice-chairman of the Scottish Unionist Party. Its members are not Tories, they are Unionists. I hope that he will tell us what this really means, and how he interprets it. I hope that he will tell us how he will help his constituents when they ask for his help in dealing with Napier's and all the other private enterprise gentlemen in Scotland who have been fleecing our people.

Can the hon. Gentleman explain what this means? Or does he, like the Under-Secretary of State, need a brief before he even begins to understand what it is all about?

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

I began to understand it until the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends took part in the debate, and then they confused me.

Mr. Ross

The confusion arises from reading Tory statutes, because all I have done is to read the Bill. The simplicity that the hon. Gentleman found in this was the simplicity of unexamined knowledge—the simplicity of ignorance. One of the troubles of the Under-Secretary is the trouble of the Prime Minister and his speeches. It is not that he has any twists of character; he really believes what he writes. The question is: who writes what he reads?

We get a different meaning in every subsection for an Act of Parliament that is being wiped out. Then we get the "daddy" of the lot, in paragraph (d). Having given us a different meaning in the reference in paragraph (a) we are taken to an Act that does not exist, and assigned to it is Section 21(1) of the Act of 1938, which we find is not an Act of 1938 at all but a Measure of 1964. It s Part III of Schedule 2 of this Measure. This is retrospective legislation indeed. This is to be called the Act of 1938 in Scotland, but we are enacting it for Scotland in 1964. If that is not confusing to people outside the House as well as inside it, what is?

Paragraph (b) says: if the reference is a reference to a contract to which paragraph (b) of the said section 1 "— that is Section 1 of the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932, which we have wiped out in the last Amendment—it shall have a different meaning here. This time it relates to Clause 21(5) of the Bill, and not to Section 21(5) of the 1938 Act, which is incorporated in the Bill. We do not go to the Schedule to find out what the the terms of the 1938 Act are, but to the body of the Bill. The Under-Secretary says that this is helping the Scottish lawyers and the Scottish people, who want streamlined Tory legislation from a modernising Government.

But then paragraph (c) gives us an entirely different meaning. It says: if the context of the reference requires that it shall be construed as a reference only to a contract relating to an article within the limitation as to value specified in the said paragraph (a)… I presume that that takes us back to Section 1 of the 1932 Act, which we have wiped out. Why wipe it out if all these references to it are required?

How will we do it? In future editions of the Statutes it will not be printed. How will the Minister get over this? There is only one way he could get over it and that is by accepting the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley. There would then be no need for this Amendment.

Then we come to paragraph (d), which begins with words which should be enshrined on the front of the Bill: for the removal of doubt… The Bill should have started with those words. What will happen to the doubt that will remain after all this is finished? It will remain with the courts, which are left to sort out the tangle.

It says: for the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that except as required by the last preceding paragraph no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938. Let me tell the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke), who has just strolled in so elegantly, that when it says the Act of 1938 it does not mean that Act. It means the Third Schedule of this 1964 Bill which incorporates the Act of 1938 for England and Wales, as amended to suit the needs of Scotland.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ross

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to intervene?

Mr. Cooke

I said that I was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for pointing out to me the subtleties of the Act.

Mr. Ross

These are not subtleties. These are some of the simplicities of the Act. The hon. Gentleman should have been in the Chamber earlier if he wanted to know about the subtleties. He nearly put me off what I was saying, but he need not worry. Paragraph (d) says: …no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938… That Section, in its application to Scotland, says: This Act shall apply in relation to all hire-purchase agreements and credit-sale agreements under which the hire-purchase price or total purchase price, as the case may be, does not exceed £2,000; and the expressions 'hire-purchase agreement' and 'credit-sale agreement' shall be construed accordingly. That is a bold declaration. It might appear to mean something, but anyone reading it cannot understand it without having read Clause 25 and found that for the removal of doubt it is hereby declared that except as required by the last preceding paragraph no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938. This is indeed simplicity. I want to be fair to the hon. Gentleman of course. …no account is to be taken of section 1 of the Act of 1938…in construing any such reference to the Hire Purchase and Small Debts (Scotland) Act, 1932.

If this is simplifying the provisions with which my hon. Friend had to wrestle in Committee and simplifying the provisions which the Minister refused to simplify by giving us an intelligible Scottish Statute, then I dread to think how tangled and complex they are. I certainly hope that the Government will think again about the Amendment which they turned down. They have time for repentance even before the General Election or between now and the passing of this Bill.

We have not yet reached the Third Reading stage. Even on Third Reading the Government can hurriedly consult the Leader of the House who, I think, is the only man who understands the position of Scotland in relation to this matter for the simple reason that he tried to understand previous Bills in their application to Scotland and, realising that that was impossible, ordered the Secretary of State for Scotland to reprint the Bills. Is it not remarkable that we have to go to the Leader of the House to get what we want because we cannot get it from the Secretary of State for Scotland?

I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State would like to agree with us and to exercise the power that he momentarily has.

Mr. Stodart

The hour is getting on and I think that the House would wish me to reply to the specific points made. I must confess that I found my own explanation with which I moved the Amendment slightly more lucid than what has been voiced by either the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) or the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). May I say to the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) regarding his question about credit sales and the general belief that the 1932 Act referred to them, that, in fact, it did not, because no legislation was introduced into Scotland to deal with credit sales until the 1921 Act. Therefore, what are referred to in the 1932 Act were not credit sales but what are known as conditional sales.

Mr. Ross


Mr. Robertson

What the hon. Gentleman is saying just does not make sense. I must refer him to previous discussions in the House, when agreements concluded under Section 21(1,b) of the 1932 Act have always been referred to as credit-sale agreements. The hon. Gentleman is saying that under subsection (1,a) there were no such things as hire-purchase agreements, even though the 1932 Measure is called the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, but the first part of the Amendment describes what a hire-purchase agreement is.

Mr. Stodart

I can assure the hon. Member that whether the transaction has been assumed to be a credit sale or not, the 1932 Act did not refer to credit sales, strictly, but to conditional sales—

Mr. Ross

Would the Under-Secretary give me chapter and verse of the Act? When he referred to credit sales he spoke of 1921. I suggested that he meant 1961, but he insisted that it was 1921.

Mr. Stodart

I am not aware that I mentioned 1921. If I did, it was a slip of the tongue. I am referring to the 1932 Act as the one that has all along dealt with conditional sales, not credit sales. Credit sales did not come within the scope of the law of Scotland until 1961. I am extremely sorry if I said 1921.

The point was raised whether the financial limits were widely enough drawn; I am informed that they are widely enough drafted. I was asked why the definition of "instalment" had been removed. I am on record as strongly approving anything that will shorten a Bill by dropping any words that can be omitted. The reason why this definition is not included is that I do not think that explanation is now needed. The word was comparatively new in this kind of use in 1932, but I do not think that nowadays there is any doubt about its meaning.

I am advised that we can drop the 1932 definition—and, indeed, it has never been defined in the English Acts. If we can make a small contribution to shortening the Bill, despite this very long Amendment, I think that it is a good plan. Finally, I was asked about the meaning of the "Act of 1938". It is, of course, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock said, the Act of 1938 as applied to Scotland.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 27, line 31, to leave out from "Scotland" to the end of line 35, and to insert: the provisions of this Act set out in the following Table shall extend to Scotland subject to the modifications specified in the next following subsection.


(2) The modifications referred to in the preceding subsection are as follows:—".

This Amendment is, again, an effort to make the Clause a little easier to understand. For this purpose it divides the Clause into two subsections. The first subsection lists the provisions of Part I of the Bill that are to apply to Scotland by virtue of the Clause, setting them out in a Table for what I think makes for slightly easier reference.

Subsection (2) contains the various modifications which have to be made to the provisions listed in subsection (1) in order to take account of the differences in Scottish legal terminology and practice. The meaning of the various provisions is in no way altered by the Amendment.

Mr. J. Robertson

I have no desire to say a great deal about this, though I am tempted to do so. The Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and a lot other things obviously has not had much to do and he has taken words hitherto printed along a line and put them in tabular form. He must think that lawyers cannot read along a line and must have the words set as a table one below the other. What is the purpose of the Amendment? It does nothing but perhaps make it a little easier for somebody to read the words, although others might read them more quickly in linear form. The Minister should not waste the time of the House and insult the intelligence of hon. Members by putting forward Amendments of this kind.

Mr. Ross

I only question the logic of the procedure followed by the Under-Secretary. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) that the hon. Gentleman has made no difference with the Amendment. Where he has succeeded is in making something which hitherto encompassed four lines now occupy ten lines, and he was the man who said a few minutes ago that he wanted to shorten the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 28, line 3, at the end to insert: (d) for any reference to a personal representative there shall be substituted a reference to an executor. It might be convenient also to take the Amendment to leave out lines 8 and 9.

They are comparatively minor drafting Amendments. There occurs in Part 1 of the Bill the term "personal representative." This is an English legal term. The effect of the first Amendment is to substitute for it, wherever it appears, the equivalent Scottish term "executor". The second Amendment deletes a similar provision which, however, made the same modification only in the context of Clause 17 of the Bill. Because of the subsequent amendments to Part 1, the term "personal representative" does not now occur only in Clause 17. It occurs, for example, in the Clause as to notice of the hirer's default.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 28, line 3, at the end to insert: (d) in section 10(3), for any reference to a condition or warranty there shall be substituted a reference to a stipulation.

This Amendment is consequential upon the new Clause 10(3) and substitutes the one Scottish term "stipulation" for the English terms "condition" and "warranty" in the application of that Clause to Scotland.

Amendment agreed to.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 28, line 6, at the end to insert: (d) in section 15, subsection (8) and paragraph (a) of subsection (7) shall be omitted. We have already discussed the new Clause which requires notice to be given to the hirer when he is in default. This Amendment provides that in the application to Scotland of that Clause subsection (8) and subsection (7,a) shall not apply. Subsection (8) deals with the application to the goods, in the period following the service of the notice of default, of the Law of Distress Amendment Act, 1908, and the Bankruptcy Act, 1914. I explained in Committee in a similar context that we were not applying such references to Scotland.

Briefly, the purpose of subsection (8) of the new Clause is to ensure that goods are not, after service of a notice of default, and while that notice is still outstanding, seized to pay arrears of rent owed by the hirer or regarded as his property if he becomes bankrupt. This protects the owner of the goods. In Scotland, goods already on hire purchase are not under Common Law regarded as the hirer's property if he becomes bankrupt. To that extent, therefore, we do not need subsection (8) of the new Clause. As regards sequestration for rent, which is the equivalent in Scotland, I think, of distraint or distress for rent in England, goods held on hire purchase can be seized in Scotland, but that branch of the law, as I informed the Committee, is at present being reviewed by the Scottish Law Reform Committee, and I think we should leave the law in Scotland as it is pending its report.

Subsection (7,a) raises an entirely different point. It provides that where a hirer has died intestate and his rights under the hire-purchase agreement have not yet passed to a personal representative, Section 9 of the Administration—

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman uses the term "personal representative". What does that mean in Scottish law? Does he mean "executor"? He took the trouble quite recently to amend the Bill because it offended by using an English term. Am I to take it that his brief was drawn up not by the Scottish Office but by someone more acquainted with English law?

Mr. Stodart

If the hon. Member were not quite so quick he would have heard that I was going to explain that I am using the term "personal representative" in the context of an English Act.

Mr. Ross

No relation to Scotland.

Mr. Stodart

Section 9 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 is not to be construed as enabling notice of default to be served on the probate judge in England, the President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court. The effect of this section, I should explain, is to vest the estate of the deceased in the probate judge pending the appointment of a personal representative. In Scotland there is no provision corresponding to Section 9 of the 1925 Act. In practice, anyone having a claim against the estate would have to await the appointment of an executor. This would be done by the sheriff as a matter of course. We therefore do not need anything corresponding to subsection (7,a) of the new Clause about notice of default.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 28, leave out lines 8 and 9.—[Mr. Stodart.]

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 28, line 17, at the end to insert: (v) in subsection (4), the words from "and in relation to" to the end of the subsection shall be omitted. This Amendment provides that in the application to Scotland of Clause 17(4) certain words which have no application to Scottish conditions shall be omitted. The printed Bill does not contain the words in question. They are added to Clause 17(4) by the Amendment to which we have agreed in page 17, line 29, which was Amendment No. 23. So far as Scotland is concerned, they now have to be removed. Put in another way, Amendment No. 23 will not apply to Scotland.

The effect of the added words is to enable the owner of goods held on hire purchase to set up the claim that the possession of the goods by someone following the death of the original hirer is adverse to the owner. When the Bill was in Committee I had occasion, with considerable trepidation in the presence of the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool. Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine), to touch on "adverse possession". I understand that in English law this is a necessary preliminary to certain legal actions. We in Scotland have nothing corresponding to the doctrine of adverse possession and so we do not need the words that the Amendment proposes to disapply in Scotland.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 28, line 40, to leave out "Act of 1938" and to insert: Hire-Purchase Act 1938 as extended to Scotland". Perhaps we could consider Amendment No. 49 at the same time, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker

If the House so pleases.

Mr. Stodart

These are drafting Amendments for the sake of clarity. In two places where Scottish wording is being substituted for the wording of provisions in Part I of the Bill, the words "Act of 1938" are replaced by Hire-Purchase Act 1938 as extended to Scotland. It is just possible that in the context of Part I of the Bill there would be doubt as to the exact meaning of "the Act of 1938". We are therefore making it clear that it is the Scottish version of that Act, if I may call it so, which is meant.

Mr. J. Robertson

One does not want to prolong this agony, but I have been looking at these two Amendments and trying to make sense of them in relation to Clause 25(4) which was not amended where "the Act of 1938" is defined. It says: In this Part of, and in Schedules 2 and 7 to, this Act, the expression 'the Act of 1938 ' means the said Act of 1938 as extended to Scotland by this section. Clause 26 is in this Part of this Act. Therefore, the definitions, alterations and Amendments now proposed seem to me either to be superfluous or contradictory. If the need for these Amendments arises on Clause 26, it would certainly arise also in relation to Clause 25(4). The words "the Act of 1938" as used in this Part of the Bill have been defined. Do we need to do it again? If we do need to do it in Clause 26, as the Amendments propose to do, do we not also have to do it in relation to Clause 25?

There is a contradiction here. Need we get into this kind of muddle and difficulty about words? Why do we have to accept this proposal in one context and reject it in another?

Mr. Stodart

I think that there is the possibility of ambiguity. In the English Part of the Bill, reference is to the principal Act, and in the Scottish Part it is to the Act of 1938. As regards the hon. Gentleman's questions about the difference between Clause 25 and Clause 26, Clause 25 does not refer directly back to Part I of the Bill whereas Clause 26 does, and I am assured that the Amendment is not, therefore, anomalous.

Mr. Robertson

Clause 25 does refer back to Part I of the Bill, and many of the matters which we have been discussing in relation to Clause 25 were taken in that context. I am not disagreeing with these Amendments, but I am saying that, if they are necessary in Clause 26, they must equally be necessary in Clause 25(4). It has been my complaint that we have taken some parts of the 1938 Act and called them the 1938 Act and we have taken other parts and called them the 1964 Act. We have been through all this before. Cannot we have another look at it and see whether the thing can be rectified?

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) has a point here. The Government ought to take note of what has been said. The Under-Secretary of State said that, for the purpose of preventing confusion which might arise—that was the understatement of the day—it would be better, instead of talking of the Act of 1938, to talk of the Hire-Purchase Act, 1938, as applied to Scotland. My hon. Friend took us back to Clause 25(4), which reads: In this Part of, and in Schedules 2 and 7 to, this Act, the expression 'the Act of 1938' means the said Act of 1938 as extended to Scotland by this section". Would it not be better to make this Amendment in relation to Scotland wherever it is necessary, rather than just in two places? Will the Government amend the reference in the Schedule to make it equally clear? If it is necessary for simplicity in one place, it should be done in all.

The whole trouble, of course, arises because of the utterly ridiculous way in which we are having to legislate. No one who has listened to the debate can fail to agree that it is thoroughly unsatisfactory. It is not very likely that hon. and right hon. Members opposite will have another opportunity to legislate about Scotland on major issues even during the remaining weeks of this Parliament, but if they were to do so, I doubt very much that anyone, after the experience of this Bill, the Housing Bill, the Police Bill and the rest would commend this way of doing it. Hon. Members on the Government back benches have set a very bad example. They have taken it all in silence. They now expect that this should be common form.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)


Mr. Ross

I am sorry if the hon. and gallant Gentleman objects to being kept here listening to our complaints. Responsibility for that rests on his own side of the House. This was his Government's way of doing it. Even when this Bill was supposed to be simple and easy to understand, we now have, at this point in the Report stage, Amendment after Amendment to clarify matters and remove doubt. The doubts and difficulties arise because of the way we are legislating. I am sure that there is not an English hon. Member who would be prepared to stomach this kind of treatment if it were English legislation being wrapped up in a Scottish Bill. I do not see why we should accept it in silence.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Stodart

I have asked the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) three times this evening not to misrepresent me. I have never said that this was simple. I have repeatedly said that I had not said it was simple; just that it was not nearly the heavy weather he has been turning it into. The general complaint of the hon. Member and other hon. Members opposite has been that this is not simple, and with that I entirely subscribe. I have given the House the explanation, which I repeat, that in this case there will be an ambiguity if the Amendment is not accepted.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 29, line 21, to leave out "Act of 1938" and to insert: Hire-Purchase Act 1938 as extended to Scotland."—[Mr. Stodart.]

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move, in page 29, line 25, at the end to insert— (iii) in paragraph 6(2), for any reference to an assignment there shall be substituted a reference to an assignation. This is a drafting Amendment. By an Amendment which we have still to reach—No. 119, to Schedule 1—it is proposed to add a new paragraph (6), which defines "buyer" and "seller" in conditional sale agreements and which twice uses the word "assignment". In the context in which it is used, this is an English legal term which requires to be translated for Scottish purposes as "assignation". I have consulted the larger Oxford Dictionary and I can assure the House that there is nothing of substance here.

Mr. Willis

I should not have thought that the larger Oxford Dictionary was the right reference book to consult for a definition of a Scottish legal term. There must be Scottish legal reference books which would have helped the Under-Secretary.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the use of the word "assignation" in Scotland, but this Amendment shows that in addition to the scores of alterations to the Bill we have already discussed in relation to Scotland, we continue to discuss them. This indicates the hopeless muddle the Government landed themselves when they agreed to this business of putting Scotland in this Bill in this fashion. All these alterations would have been unnecessary had the Government accepted our suggestion and given Scotland a Bill of our own. I must, once more, protest at this procedure being adopted by the Government.

Mr. Stodart

One point slipped my notice. I should have asked, Mr. Speaker, if it would be convenient for the House to discuss Amendment No. 119, to which I referred when moving this Amendment, at the same time, for it has entirely the same purpose. Might I ask that now?

Mr. Speaker

Not now because we have already had a speech on the basis that we were discussing this Amendment only.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Stodart

I beg to move Amendment No. 51, in page 29, line 29, at the end, to insert: (iv) paragraph 8A shall be omitted. The purpose of the Amendment is to exclude from Schedule 1 in its application to Scotland a paragraph which is not needed in Scotland. This is the paragraph which is proposed to be included by Amendment No. 64. In relation to England and Wales, the Schedule does not fully cover one matter, namely, the right in respect of a breach of condition. I do not want to anticipate more than necessary, but I should, perhaps, explain that the difficulty arises from Section 11 (1,c) of the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, under which the buyer under a conditional sale agreement might lose at the time of delivery of the goods his right to reject them for a breach of condition.

In England, because of Section 11(1,c), a buyer's protection under a conditional sale may be less good than it is under a hire-purchase transaction, but that Section of the Sale of Goods Act does not apply to Scotland. Instead, Section 11(2) does so apply. Under it, a failure by the seller to perform a material part of the contract of sale is a breach of contract which entitles the buyer within a reasonable time after delivery to treat the contract as repudiated. The new paragraph 8A to Schedule 1 will not, therefore, be required in relation to Scotland.

Mr. Ross

This is getting more and more confusing. I have been trying to follow the Amendment Paper. I read that paragraph 8A was to be omitted. I traced it back and discovered that it was paragraph 8A of Schedule 1. I turned to Schedule 1 and read that there was a paragraph 8, but I found no trace of 8A. It came out in the explanation given by the Under-Secretary that we are anticipating acceptance by the House of a future Amendment, but that we do not want that Amendment to apply to Scotland. Since it will not be applied to Scotland, the hon. Gentleman gave us a full explanation of its meaning.

I do not know what its purpose was. We would not have doubted had the hon. Gentleman said, "We do not want this to apply to Scotland and we do not need it." In view of the lateness of hour, he might have spared the explanation of a paragraph which we do not want and do not need. This is the second occasion when we have anticipated the agreement of the House to an Amendment. I hope that if we make Amendment No. 51, we will reach Amendment No. 64 tonight or some other night and that the Government do not decide to withdraw it after further consideration. In that event, we would be in the position of having accepted on behalf of Scotland a reference to an Amendment and to a paragraph which will not appear in the Statute.

This is a chancey way of doing things. Once again, it arises because of the crazy way we are legislating. It is impossible to follow what is happening. Some hon. Members had the advantage of serving on the Standing Committee. They probably know all the difficulties involved, but those of us who, on Report, have tried to follow matters certainly have not been helped by the way things have been done.

If we are to have future legislation like this, when an Amendment is put down in this way and, to understand it, reference to a future Amendment is required, as well as putting down the number of the Amendment we are discussing we should be referred to the Amendment from the reading of which we can make sense. I am, however, happy with the Under-Secretary's explanation although it was absolutely unnecessary.

Amendment agreed to.