HC Deb 19 July 1967 vol 750 cc2364-5

3.15 a.m.

Mr. Corfield

I beg to move Amendment No. 102, in page 40, line 33, after `Act', to insert: 'or under section 41 of this Act'. This Amendment extends the provisions of the Clause to enable the Board of Trade, if it has an interim report, following the new provisions of Clause 41, that discloses that, amongst other things, civil proceedings ought, in the public interest, to be brought by a body corporate, to act on that interim report under Clause 41 in the same way as it can under the reports specifically mentioned in this Clause.

I find this a little confusing. In an earlier Amendment it was suggested that Clause 33 was not covered by a similar power of inspection and investigation as is contained in Clause 32 and applies to Clauses 25 and 27. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Section 172 of the principal Act, but there is a subtle difference here, in that Clause 32(4) provides specifically for inspectors to make interim reports to the Board of Trade, and is very much in line with the provisions of Clause 41.

Section 172 of the principal Act does not, as far as I recollect, and as far as I can see from a superficial glance at it, provide for these interim reports. As we have been concerned, in the Clauses dealing with enforcement, with giving power to the Board of Trade to act more speedily, it seems odd that there has been a somewhat ad hoc selection of Clauses to which these provisions—in respect of interim reports, and acting upon them, both in regard to disclosure and criminal and civil proceedings—have been made to apply.

This seems to require further consideration. On the face of it the Clause would appear to extend to Clause 41, but I may have misunderstood the situation.

Mr. Jay

I am always grateful to hon. Members when they propose adding to our powers on the ground that we have not taken sufficient powers already. The hon. Member is seeking to extend the Board of Trade's powers by allowing it to take civil proceedings on the basis of information passed on to it by inspectors in an interim report, without a final report having been made.

In our view, although there would be no harm in such powers being granted to the Board of Trade, it is so doubtful whether it would ever wish to embark on civil proceedings without waiting for an inspector's report that the Amendment appears to be unnecessary. My advisers would have favoured the power being given if experience had shown it to be necessary, but we believe it is not.

Amendment negatived.