HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1402-5
Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I beg to move, in page 17, line 28, leave out "and", and insert "or".

This is one of a group of six Amendments all of which are intended to improve the present drafting and wording of Clause 17.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 17, line 29, leave out "purpose" and insert "purposes".

In line 29, leave out second "and" and insert "or".

In line 30, leave out "and" and insert "or".

In page 18, line 4, leave out second and "and" insert "or".

In line 5, leave out "and" and insert "or".—[Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett.]

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I beg to move, in page 18, line 12, to leave out from "at" to "not" in line 13 and to insert: a harbour that is comprised in the group or is adjacent to any of the harbours so comprised". This Amendment runs with the next Amendment in line 15 to leave out, "the first-mentioned "and to insert "that". They are a little more than drafting Amendments. Although the object is to improve the wording of clause 17 (2,e) they make clear that the interests of a person, engaged in harbour operations at a harbour included in or adjacent to a group of harbours unified in a reorganisation scheme may be transferred to the new authority or to one of the statutory harbour authorities in the group.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 18, line 15, leave out "the first-mentioned" and insert "that".

In page 18, line 30, leave out "and" and insert "or".—[Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett.]

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I beg to move, in page 19, line 23, at end to insert: (7) If at any time it appears to the Minister that any such provision of a harbour reorganisation scheme having effect by virtue of subsection (2) (h) above as adjusts the rights of a person operates or is likely to operate so as to put that person in a worse position than he would have been in had the provision not been included in the scheme, he may by order amend the scheme in such manner as appears to him to secure that that person is or will be in no such worse position". This Amendment fulfills an undertaking which I gave during the Committee stage proceedings. It will be recalled that some hon. Members expressed concern about the possibility that an adjustment of pension rights under Clause 17(2,h) could prejudicially affect transferred employees. This Amendment is intended to allay those anxieties. It closely follows similar provisions made in Section 74(6,a) of the Transport Act, 1962. Any amending order made by the Minister under this provision would be subject to annulment by negative Resolution.

Mr. Mellish

I wish to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for keeping his word, as we knew he would, about this matter. I have one question. While this achieves the object of protecting individuals concerned in harbour reorganisations schemes, it would seem ironic that as the Clause now reads a harbour reorganisation scheme may be held up because the position of one person might be worsened. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary appreciates that point, and I should like him to say something about it. It is almost inevitable that in any reorganisation scheme someone may be hurt in that way. I should like to be sure that it is not the case that a scheme would be held up because someone might find that his position was worsened.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I can give that assurance.

Dr. King

May I thank the Parliamentary Secretary once more for fulfilling the pledge which he gave during the Committee stage this evening. We were anxious that nobody should be put in a worse position or suffer financially because of some reorganisation scheme. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at the wording, because it still appears as if when an individual is affected by a scheme we should alter the scheme rather than compensate the individual, which I am sure is not the intention of the Amendment.

I welcome the Amendment. N.A.L.G.O. and the Docks and Harbours Association pressed for a similar Amendment. It was a case of master and man both wanting it, and they will be extremely grateful to the Minister.

Mr. Jeger

This is what is commonly called a non-detriment Clause, and I wish to know whether it is drafted in what is accepted as common form, or whether the rather obscure wording is different from what is regarded as common form for such Clauses. Can the Parliamentary Secretary give an assurance that he will have another look at this to see that there is no ambiguity? As my hon. Friend has said, a scheme should not be held up pending any adjustment of a section of that schemes involving only one individual.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I confirm that, as I understand it, this is standard form, but I will go into that. My information is that it follows the provisions in the 1962 Act. In reply to the point made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), the reference to amending a scheme means pension adjustments will be part of the scheme. There will be a financial section of the scheme.

I had rather expected an hon. Member to ask why the word "may" is used instead of "shall". I had better answer that, because probably it will be asked. The "may" is, of course, permissive, but one hopes that it will not be necessary for my right hon. Friend to go through this rather elaborate procedure of making an order subject to negative procedure. If such a case comes to light, in 99 cases out of a 100 it would be agreed without hurting anyone at all.

Amendment agreed to.