HC Deb 19 July 1966 vol 732 cc569-85

Development areas

4.—(1) There shall be exempt from, control under this Act any work done in the construction or alteration of a building or of any works in a development area.

(2) There shall be exempt from control under this Act any work done in the construction or alteration of a building or of any works in a locality which has ceased to be a development area or a development district if

  1. (a) the construction or alteration was begun; or
  2. (b) a contract for the work in question, or for other work in the construction or alteration, was made,

at a time when the locality was a development area or development district.

(3) Work shall not be exempt from control by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of this section if the construction or alteration has been interrupted for a continuous period of twelve months or more.

(4) Nothing in subsection (2) of this section shall be taken as conferring any exemption on work in respect of a building or any works by reason only that the construction of any ancillary works for the building or works in question was begun, or that a contract for work in the construction of such ancillary works was made, at such a time as is mentioned in that subsection; but where work done in the construction or alteration of a building or of any works is exempt from control by virtue of that subsection there shall also be exempt from control by virtue of that subsection any work done in the construction of any ancillary works required for that building or those works.

(5) In this section— development area" means any locality at the material time specified as such under section 14 of the Industrial Development Act 1966; development district "means any locality at the material time specified as such by a notice in the Board of Trade Journal which has not been withdrawn by a further notice in that Journal.

This is consequential on New Clause No. 3.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

12.47 a.m.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

We should not give the Bill its Third Reading without some comment from this side of the House.

On Report, we have been dealing with a limited number of fairly detailed points, but the Bill contains a number of provisions which should he examined critically before we allow it to move on to another place.

Hearing the President of the Board of Trade defending the Bill, I have the impression that he still looks upon it as a baby in which he can take some personal pride. We on this side, despite what has been done in Committee and on Report, regard it as a misshapen monster and consider that the right hon. Gentleman is engaging in an unusual degree of self-deception.

It is a Bill with almost nothing to commend it. From the outset, it has been fiercely criticised by a great deal of British industry, not only those who have been omitted from the incentives that it contains—the transport industry, the tourist trade, the services, banks, insurance, building societies and the rest—but even by those whom it purports to benefit. Not only does it deprive them of reliefs which they have had under investment allowances on things like office equipment, canteen equipment, ambulances and other vehicles, but, even where it applies to qualifying plant, the benefits are less valuable than under the old system.

In the first place, the Bill embodies the principle of discrimination between manufacturing and service industries. It has become clear as the debates have proceeded, both in Committee and in the House, that this is a fundamental misconception. The economic activity of manufacturing and selling is one and indivisible. From the moment that the raw materials are purchased, the manpower recruited, the production planned, right through the manufacturing process to the advertising, selling, distributing and accounting, it is all one continuous process. It is quite futile to discriminate in favour of part of that process, to give grants, advantages and incentives to part of it, and deprive the rest.

It is ludicrous when the discrimination reaches the point, as we saw in a case earlier today, of depending not only on the nature of the asset on which capital will be expended, but on the identity of the owner of that asset. We argued at length the case of the maintenance contractor who buys plant identical with that of a man who owns the operating plant which is to be maintained.

We believe that the whole concept is basically unsound. It involves large areas of doubt. The food processing industry will find itself in acute difficulties. My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Cot-field) mentioned the pasturisation of milk, and questions have been asked about the bottling of beer, and so on. Are they in, or out? The only answer that we can get is that the Board of Trade has a discretion. and that it will administer this Measure reasonably.

I do not believe that a system involving £300 million should rest on administrative discretion. The old system of investment allowances was certain. They were granted as of right, and were the subject of appeal if necessary. The new system of grants is uncertain. It is at the discretion of the Board of Trade, and it is subject to no right of appeal. The Board of Trade says that it will administer the system reasonably, and no doubt it will try to do so. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite argue about the need for flexibility, yet when we try to define terms more closely they say that they want to avoid rigidity as this will prevent them from dealing with special cases.

No doubt this approach is admirable and will suit the big boys in industry, the chaps in the main stream of industrial investments, the people in respect of whom there is no doubt about whether they will get the allowance, but what about the small companies which may be operating on the fringes of manufacturing industry, which are engaged in marginal activities, and where there are doubtful cases? Will they be so pleased that they will be entirely at the mercy of administrative discretions, and that they will have no right of appeal to determine whether they come within this or not? I think that they will find themselves in acute difficulties.

Then there is the appalling administrative problem which the Bill is bound to create. The President of the Board of Trade said during the Second Reading debate that there would be about 300,000 applications for grant each year. We know that this will involve the employment of more than 1,000 extra civil servants in the Board of Trade, with no savings at all in the Inland Revenue because it will have to consider the initial allowances for tax purposes.

The administration is bound to be rough and ready, and no doubt officials will try to do their best, but many of them will be of junior grade, and I cannot believe that it is right that the nation's economic life should depend on decisions made by relatively junior staff. When we ask how the matter will be handled administratively, it becomes clear that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have not an inkling of how the administration will be handled.

Then there is the question of sanctions. The Bill contains a number of severe penalties for those who make false claims. In Committee the President of the Board of Trade was asked how many prosecutions there had been under the old system of investment allowances. He said that the question ought to be directed to the Treasury. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) directed that question to the Treasury on 12th July and asked how many prosecutions there had been, and what sums were involved. The Financial Secretary replied, "None, Sir." I cannot believe that that record will remain unbroken in the years ahead. When money is being handed out in the form of grants, there are always the fly boys who come in and try to take advantage of it.

This discrimination, this arbitrary discretion, this complex administration, and the severe sanctions, might be justified if the incentives to invest were more valuable, if the incentives to invest were going to be more strongly encouraged than they have been hitherto, but this is just not so. Last Thursday at Question Time the right lion. Gentleman and I got involved in a fairly fierce altercation as to whose:figures were right. We accused each other of putting phoney figures before the House.

The right hon. Gentleman relies on a Parliamentary Answer to a Question tabled by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) on 1st March, and I rely on the figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave in answer to a series of Questions which appear in HANSARD of 1st July. The figures given on 1st March suggested that there was a small improvement compared with the former system, and that the improvement was somewhat larger in the development areas. The figures published in HANSARD on 1st July—and I seriously suggest that hon. Gentlemen who are in doubt about this should study them because they are carefully spelt out—show that there has been a small deterioration in the national picture, and a rather larger deterioration in connection with the development districts.

These two sets of figures start from two fundamentally different bases of approach. There are really three periods to be considered—the old, the middle and the new. The old period was the period with the old system of Income Tax and Profits Tax, and the old system of investment allowances. Then we had Corporation Tax, but we still retained temporarily the old system of investment allowances. Then, in the new period, we had Corporation Tax and the new system of grants which we have been considering.

The first set of figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave in answer to the hon. Member for Orpington compared the middle period with the new period, whereas the figures he gave me, on the assumptions that I spelt out—and where his officials were extremely helpful in interpreting the situation—compared the old period with the new, and not the middle one. I venture to suggest that the assumptions I spelt out for the President of the Board of Trade, on which his answers were based, were a very much more realistic comparison than the comparison between the middle and the new.

Mr. Darling


Mr. Jenkin

The Minister of State says "No". Does not he recollect that when the Chancellor introduced his Budget, on 6th April, 1965. there was a whole paragraph in his speech which recognised that the reduction of the corporate rate of taxation to 40 per cent. or 35 per cent. was bound to have the effect of devaluing investment allowances? We had a whole day's debate on the Finance Bill, 1965, which centred entirely round the question of the introduction of Corporation Tax. which had devalued investment allowances.

As a result, in his Budget speech the Chancellor said that the Government were looking for a substitute to replace the devalued allowances and restore the investment incentive to industry. The Government therefore recognise—even if right hon. Gentlemen opposite have not —that the middle period was essentially transitional, and a period from which the Government were determined to move at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, for the right hon. Gentleman to continue to rely on the figures he gave the hon. Member for Orpington is the sheerest nonsense.

There is another difference of approach between the two sets of figures. The figures in March did not take account of Schedule F tax paid on dividends, whereas the figures and the answers given on 1st July did. This, again, is entirely realistic, because Schedule F tax is just as much a tax on the profits of investment or the profits of enterprise as is Corporation Tax paid by the company. I concede that these calculations are bound to be complex if they are done in a sophisticated and meaningful way, but in spelling out the assumptions on which the figures of 1st July were based I put a reasonable case to the right hon. Gentleman. This was not a case intended to produce the most favourable answer for my purposes—

Mr. T. W. Urwin (Houghton-le-Spring)

On a point of order. Is not the hon. Gentleman making a Second Reading speech rather than a Third Reading speech?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

I was thinking that the hon. Member was straying some way from what is permissible in a Third Reading debate. I hope that he will finish with the Corporation Tax and confine himself to what is in the Bill.

Mr. Jenkin

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I will now turn to the Bill.

The core of the Bill is the new system of investment grants, and the basis of the Government's case is that this is more favourable than the old system of investment allowances. I was endeavouring to show that the figures supplied to me show that that is not so. The assumptions on which those figures were based had to take account of tax, and one cannot look at the grants in isolation—which is a mistake that far too many people make—and not as part of a general change in the system of corporate taxation.

I made sure that the reference to taxation in those Answers should be as neutral as they could, and that the rate of distribution should be the same, so that the same total tax liability would fall on the company, and no more. We were told that the grants would be paid 18 months after the initial expenditure was incurred, eventually coming down to 6 months; I have chosen an intermediate period-12 months. What do the figures show as a result of the new system of investment grants introduced in this Bill? On £1,000 of investment in a non-development area on the pre-change system, the increment was £98. On the post-change system it is down to £39, or less than half. Comparing the development district situation with—

Mr. Urwin

On a point of order. Is not the hon. Gentleman really imposing on the tolerance of the House by his insistence on pursuing a Second Reading speech rather than addressing himself to the Third Reading?

Mr. Noble

Further to that point of order. It seems to me that the debate would go on rather better if hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the Deputy Chief Whip, left you in command of the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am obliged to everyone who is trying to assist me. It should be realised that there is a con- siderable difference between what is permissible on the Third Reading of the Bill and what is permissible on the Second Reading. I think the hon. Member now addressing the House is now trying to confine himself to what is permissible on the Third Reading.

Mr. Jenkin

I am obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If one takes the figures—

Mr. Urwin

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope it is fully understood that I am not the Deputy Chief Whip.

Mr. Jenkin

If one compares the figures, comparing the old development district with the new development area, on £1,000 of investment the increment was £232 on the old system as compared with £148 on the new system. These figures represent the net present worth of a discounted cash flow, now regarded as one of the more sophisticated and better methods of evaluating an investment.

There has thus been a reduction of over one-third. Perhaps the most significant lesson to be drawn from these figures is that the margin between the old development district and the national picture was £134 whereas the margin between the new development area and the national picture is only £109. I do not think the President has yet realised that he has effectively reduced the attractiveness of investing in a development area.

Mr. Jay

In that case it is very remarkable that applications in South Wales for advance factories have trebled since we introduced this Measure.

Mr. Jenkin

That may be so, but the fact of the matter is that if one does these calculations for a perfectly reasonable, perfectly typical investment of £1,000, invested for plant and machinery, that is the result one gets. The margin of advantage has significantly narrowed. I wonder whether this is realised? If the right hon. Gentleman goes on pretending that this is a better system he is going to make himself a laughing stock, because people doing these calculations in industry realise what has happened.

This is a bad Bill, misconceived, riddled with anomalies and nonsense, and it poses frightening administrative problems. It is a typically bad piece of Socialist legislation and I venture to prophesy that it will probably fail in its purpose.

The nation is at present facing grave economic problems with the balance of payments, and falling, or stagnant, investment. It is nothing less than tragic that at this time the Government should have produced this substitute for the old system which was working well and providing valuable incentives—it is a substitute full of ridiculious anomalies and complex administration.

We have tried to do what we could, both in Committee and on Report, to improve it, but it still remains a bad Measure. It is the product of a political philosophy which we abhore, and industry and the nation will live to regret it.

1.5 a.m.

Mr. Alison

My hon. Friend has expressed perfectly the critical attitude and the pugnacious opposition which we on this side of the House feel towards this Bill. I will tread more delicately. I want to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to Clause 4, in which I think I have detected a flaw, although the flaw may be in my detection.

Clause 4(2,a) and (b) deals with the terms under which a business concerned with the hiring out of assets can get a grant for those assets. Subsection (2,a) makes it clear that one of the conditions is that the asset has been hired out, which is perfectly satisfactory. Subsection (2,b) makes it plain that one of the conditions of the hirer qualifying for grant is that the person who hires the asset would have qualified for grant if he had bought the asset instead of hiring it. This is clear. We are referred back to Clauses 1, 2 and 3, in respect of plant and machinery, computers and hover vehicles, in respect of which the person hiring the asset would have got grant if he had bought them.

A fourth such asset is written into Clause 5—namely, ships. Some people hire out assets in respect of ships. I am thinking particularly of those electronic and electrical manufacturing firms like Decca Navigation and Marconi, which hire out advanced and sophisticated automatic and semi-automatic control, communications and radar navigation equipment, which many shipping firms hire rather as a householder hires a tele- vision set. They prefer it to be maintained on a rental basis by the supplier. They operate much expensive and important navigating equipment, the market for which is largely generated by its use in British ships.

It would be better if paragraph (b) included grants under Clause 5 as well as under Clauses 1, 2 and 3, so that an asset hired in respect of ships could be treated as are the assets in respect of plant and machinery, computers and hovercraft. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot comment on this now, perhaps he would write to me about it, or put it right in another place.

1.8 a.m.

Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)


Mr. Urwin

Hear, hear.

Mr. Biffen

Encouraged by the cheers of the ageing eagle below the Gangway, I want to make a few brief points on Part I, and particularly Clauses 1 and 2. Clause 1 is a new approach to investment incentives, because it empowers the Government to make grants, which is a fairly abrupt change. On Second Reading, in Committee and in the debate on the White Paper which preceded the Bill, the Government argued that it was a fundamental change. I would accept that. I would also accept such a change which at least gives us a chance to question the whole virtue of Government subsidies for manufacturing investment, whether by cash grant or under the system which the Bill replaces. In holding that view I echo the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) in the debate on the White Paper on 15th February.

A good deal of the argument on Clauses 1 and 2 has turned on whether the advantages to manufacturing investment under the Bill are more or less generous under the Bill than under the scheme which it replaces.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wan-stead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) said that this controversy was debated as a "fierce altercation" and it seems to me that it has been debated with a fair lack of charity. It seems to have been much more than a disputation between medieval schoolmen.

I wonder whether the Bill makes any difference to manufacturing investment decisions. My scepticism was underlined by a report of the Confederation of British Industry Trends Inquiry of June, 1966, which asked for comments on the cash grants. In development areas the answers were that the new system had affected the investment decisions not at all in 88 per cent. of respondents' cases on plant and machinery and 92 per cent. on buildings. In non-development areas 92 per cent. of the respondents said that it had not affected their decisions on plant and machinery and 93 per cent. said that it had not affected their decisions on buildings. Therefore, I am not entirely convinced of the need for grants.

I wonder whether, despite the benefits which are presumed to come from grants for manufacturing investment, the quantum which will be carried out by manufacturing industry will be very much higher. It seems that the bulk of the manufacturing investment would take place quite independent of this machinery for subsidies. This is not a proposition which is capable of proof, but it is undoubtedly true that we have had a most generous system of investment subsidies in the past with the tax allowance system, yet I do not think that that resulted in such an enormously high level of manufacturing investment in this country compared with others where subsidies are somewhat lower. I take the argument one stage further and say that it is far from evident that the level of manufacturing investment is in any sense related to growth, which is the argument for cash grants.

I will conclude my remarks [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."], as I do not want to trespass on the friendship which I thought I had with hon. Members below the Gangway. Dr. Aukrust of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Oslo, speaking to the Nordic Economic Conference in 1958, said: The high rate of investment in Norway and Sweden has not led to a correspondingly high rate of increase in the national product. What is the explanation? The relationships between investment and increase in production are far more complicated than is generally assumed.…. The human factor is at least as important to the rate of economic growth as the volume of physical capital. I got that information from the O.E.E.C. Productivity Measurement Review, February, 1959. The point has real rele- vance because the Financial Memorandum accompanying this Bill suggests that there will be an expenditure of £250 million this year. I would clearly be out of order to argue that the alternative would be to use the money to lower the rates of company taxation, but that alternative should be put before the country at some stage.

I remain a little sceptical about the whole concept of the Bill. There needs to be strategic decisions concerning the functions and assumed responsibilities of government. This Bill subsidies manufacturing investment. I do not regard that as an incontrovertible role of government. It is a highly debatable fashion of recent origin.

1.17 a.m.

Sir J. Eden

My hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) has raised an extremely interesting point. Were it not so late an hour, I should be tempted to follow it up, because I think this matter is well worth more considered debate. I might be tempted to go into debate with him on the question of value of development areas alone.

I was interested in the interjection made during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) by the President of the Board of Trade, who referred to the number of applications coming from South Wales. I have an interest in South Wales and I can bear out what he said, but I think that much of this arises probably from business already in the development area. The proposals of this Bill will be of special value in that regard to those who already have business or manufacturing facilities in development areas, but they will not themselves be the overriding factor which will facilitate and encourage the movement of business or extension of business to a development area when it is not already there. I am sure that there are many other more important factors which come into the consideration of a company than the amount of grant it is likely to receive.

Later this week—if we get there—we are to be regaled with a series of announcements from the Treasury Box—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. There is nothing about that in this Bill.

Sir J. Eden

With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have not finished my sentence and when I complete the sentence it will have direct reference to this Bill. Later we are to have a series of extraordinarily depressing statements, depressing and unhappy for all of us to have to contemplate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

No. We cannot debate that on this Bill.

Sir J. Eden

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not debating these matters whatsoever. I am merely saying that we have this coming to us and we do not like the prospect. These measures, whatever they may be—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must stop the hon. Gentleman. We cannot on the Third Reading of this Bill debate statements which may be made on a later date.

Sir J. Eden

The Bill has no relevance to the economic situation. It has already considerably helped to add to the general confusion and frustration throughout industry because of the attempt artificially to differentiate between a variety of industrial and commercial activities. Any legislation designed to separate industrial and commercial activities into sheep and goats is complex and difficult. This is not likely to assist in the modernization of British industry. This is why I attempted to persist—quite improperly, agree—against your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because the main purpose of the Bill is said to be to speed up the modernisation of industry. The Bill is also designed to improve the balance of payments. I believe I am right in saying that the Government's policy in bringing the Bill forward is to divert our resources into sectors where they can be most usefully employed for the growth and future wellbeing of the economy. It was because I believe this to be the thinking behind the Bill that I made my earlier reference to what is coming in a few hours.

I do not believe that the Bill will help to achieve those objectives. It will result in a considerable increase in administrative cost and in general confusion and frustration. One of the key industries in the modernisation of our whole industrial complex is the electronic goods industry. This industry is a prime factor in the modernisation of industry, commerce, communications, health and welfare services, and in defence. There are many ways in which this industry will be handicapped by the provisions of the Bill. This is particularly so because of the element of confusion which Part I inflicts on those primarily concerned with the varied aspects of the electronic goods industry. It is an industry basic to our plans for future expansion. I regret that the Bill should be going on to the Statute Book and handicapping this important element in our economic development.

I am sure the Government will agree that more investment in the products of the electronic industry is needed throughout industry. That is why the Government have included in the Bill the Clause referring to computers. I agree that this will help. I hope that it will help substantially. I hope that it will achieve what the Government want it to achieve. The new system of investment grants and the artificial discrimination imported into Part I will not boost investment generally. I join in the general criticism of the tone of the Bill and the thinking behind it. In the Bill, which is now to be given a Third Reading and will shortly become the law of the land, we see a further example of that Socialism in practice which has already so substantially polluted and clouded the economic atmosphere of this country.

Mr. Darling

I do not intend to go over all the arguments that we put forward during the proceedings on the Bill —Second Reading, Committee stage and Report stage—to answer the points that have been brought forward tonight. We have discussed them at great length, and the only two new points were those raised by the hon. Members for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) and Oswestry (Mr. Biffen).

At this time of night, I shall not attempt to test whether the scepticism of the hon. Member for Oswestry about the results of the new system is likely to be well-founded. We have to wait and see the results, and I back my opinion against his. I think that the new system will work extremely well and speed up the modernisation of British industry and increase investment in it.

The hon. Member for Barkston Ash raised the question of grants for radar equipment leased for use on board a ship which itself receives a grant because it was made in this country. This is an issue that I should like to examine. The general rule is that grants will not be paid on assets for use overseas, whether bought outright or leased. As the hon. Member recollects, we have decided that computers and so on should not receive grants if they are leased or sent overseas.

This raises a problem which I think that the hon. Member was getting at. If the radar set is a fixed part of the ship it would qualify for a grant. If it is leased and becomes portable in and out of the ship, it would not, as things stand. But I shall look at this again and write to the hon. Member.

The hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin), with his usual vehemence, attacked the Bill and said that it was a futile piece of legislation. I notice that no hon. Member opposite ever referred to Parts II and III, which are absolutely essential to the Bill. If we had not brought forward the Bill with these Parts in it, the Local Employment Acts would have run out next March, and all the work that we have been doing and want to continue to do for development areas would have been impossible. I thought that hon. Members opposite would seize upon these Parts of the Bill. We are carrying forward their 1960 legislation, to which I have paid great tribute during the proceedings on the Bill, but they have made not one reference to Parts II and III.

When one is calculating the sophisticated examples of whether a firm in certain circumstances, with a certain investment programme, at a certain time, in a certain area, would be better off under the old system than under this system, the answer depends a great deal on the assumptions that one makes. The hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford agrees that they are sophisticated examples. I shall not go over the whole ground of hon. Members figures and assumptions, but shall just take one case which he mentioned.

He brings Schedule F into account, and the tax on dividends is a very debatable factor here. It is debatable to what extent one should take account of this tax in considering an investment project, because the Government's grant scheme was introduced to encourage re-equipment, not to increase dividends to shareholders. One can take any level of increase in dividends to shareholders and make any assumptions to produce the answers one wants. If Schedule F tax were disregarded, the Answers to the hon. Gentlemen's Questions would be quite different, and I am convinced that, even if all his other assumptions were retained, they would show a higher discounted net present worth for investment under the new system in each case where the assets attract new grants. I have the calculations here based on more accurate assumptions of what actually goes on in industry, and I am quite convinced that the new system will work satisfactorily.

The House has finished this last stage of the Bill in, I regret to say, a somewhat acrimonious mood. I want now to pay a tribute on behalf of my right hon. Friend and myself to the generally helpful way in which hon. Members opposite have assisted us both in Committee and on Report. We know that they disagree with the principles of the Bill and they disagree with our view on the results which will flow from it; but on the technical aspects of the Bill, particularly on Parts II and III, in which we were all keenly interested, we had quite a degree of co-operation from hon. Members opposite, and I pay tribute to that.

I think that we can leave the Third Reading there, unless the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) wishes to say something.

1.31 a.m.

Mr. Noble

I join with the right hon. Gentleman in his last theme. As I said in the House last night, this has been, in a way, something of a model of what can be achieved between two sides of the House who disagree fairly profoundly about almost everything in a Bill and who yet manage to work out a system of co-operation, in which also, if I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman's staff in the Board of Trade were particularly helpful. We managed to get through the Committee stage quickly, and, in spite of what some hon. Members opposite who have only just come into the Chamber may feel, we have today dealt with 25 selected Amendments in pretty quick time. I am sure that both right hon. Gentlemen who have sat, as I have, through practically the whole of our proceedings, will not disagree on that.

Before parting with the Bill, I wish to say "Thank you" again, as we did in Committee, to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State. Through no fault of his and through no dereliction of duty on the part of the President of the Board of Trade, he had to carry the heat and burden of almost all this often complicated, ,often technical and generally not entirely agreed Measure.

It is a very happy circumstance that his elevation to the Privy Council has come during the course of our proceedings on this Bill. I know that my hon. Friends join me in thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the way he has conducted the Bill throughout. There is no part of the Bill we like—if there had been time I should have spoken at some length about Parts II and III because I do not agree with them either—but we do appreciate the way in which the two right hon. Gentlemen have handled it.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

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