HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc406-7
Mr. Blackburn

I am very grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to correct a misunderstanding which arose on Monday evening in the debate on the Third Reading of the Welsh Shipping Agency Bill, a misunderstanding which could reflect on me as the Chairman of the Committee stage of the Bill and upon the Clerks, which could cause doubts in the minds of hon. Members of this House and which could have wider repercussions outside.

In a number of speeches there was the implication that Clause 25 of the Bill did not reflect the decision of the Committee. I twice intervened by way of correction, but this did not suffice to clear the matter up. You will appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that if there was a new Clause in the Bill which had not been added by the Committee, or which was not in accordance with the decision of the Committee, then the Chairman must be held responsible, for, as you will be aware, the Chairman of a Private Bill Committee has to sign the amended Bill and initial the Amendments.

The Committee stage took place last July, so memories could be at fault. I therefore felt it important, for my own sake and for the good name of Parliament, to check the published transcript of the proceedings. At the top of page 13 of the last day of the proceedings it will be found that I said: The Committee have considered the proposed Clause which was agreed with Newport restricting the use of the jetty and are prepared to insert the Clause in the form presented to them. The wording of the agreed Clause given by counsel for the promoters can be found on page 44 of the seventh day of the proceedings. The wording is identical with Clause 25 of the Bill. To make doubly sure, I asked to see the typed copies of the suggested Amendments submitted to the Committee. Again, the wording of this particular Amendment was identical with Clause 25 of the Bill.

At a later stage, on the last day of the proceedings, at page 19, counsel for the Somerset County Council referred to another Clause drafted by his clients restricting still further the importation which had already been agreed by the Committee. Hon. Members will be able to see that I restrained counsel from pursuing this as he was arguing against a decision that the Committee had already come to.

I felt that it was very important to show to the House and to others outside that nothing untoward had happened, and I hope that this account from the published transcript will clear matters up.